Inspired by ‘RISE’ and High School Theatre: Top 10 Things to Do Now in Your School and Community

(Cincinnati, Ohio, March 14, 2018)– A new television show RISE, which premiered March 13 on NBC, promises to shine the spotlight on the influence that a teacher and a drama program have on the lives of high school students, their families, and their community.

School theatre is big business and has a bigger audience cumulatively than might be realized. There is data that enumerates the benefits of participation: everything from teaching listening, collaboration, and empathy to increasing SAT scores and instilling lifelong self-confidence and voluntarism.

But, warns Educational Theatre Foundation president Julie Cohen Theobald, there is a troubling gap in opportunities for access. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 28 percent of public high schools in high poverty areas offer theatre instruction.

“That is why,” she adds, “I am excited for the RISE TV show to illuminate to a general audience the impact of theatre on students and communities. School theatre is not just a fun activity; it can put kids who are in challenging situations on a positive path and set them up for success in life. Being in a school play is a mini version of life: students work collaboratively in a team environment, build their communication skills and creativity, and must be disciplined and accountable to deliver a final production in front of an audience.”

The network behind RISE established the R.I.S.E. America project, standing for Recognizing and Empowering Student Expression, and donated half a million dollars in the form of $10,000 grants to 50 high schools to enhance their theatre programs.

Everyone can take the inspiration created by RISE and make it possible in their own schools and communities. The easiest way to start right now is to participate in Theatre in Our Schools month in March. Share facts, hashtags, videos, and graphics to make others aware of the benefits of school theatre.

Here are 10 more ideas.

Parents and Community

  1. Attend a performance at a nearby school. More than 49 million people did last year.
  2. Go one step further and buy an ad in the show program for your business or to congratulate the participants.
  3. Volunteer to help use your knowledge and skills—be an usher, a carpenter, etc. No theatre knowledge needed!
  4. Advocate for theatre and the arts with your school board and school district, since most decisions about budgets and curriculum for school theatre are made locally. Here are ideas and resources to get you started.
  5. Make a donation to help more students gain access to school theatre.

Students

  1. Take a risk: sign up for a theatre class or audition for a show. Many famous actors first discovered their talent in high school theatre, and public speaking skills will help you in any field.
  2. Encourage your school to join the International Thespian Society to increase the recognition of your theatre program and give you access to resources and opportunities beyond your school.

Teachers

  1. Join a professional association as a member to strengthen your theatre skills and gain the support of peers.
  2. Attend a national conference dedicated to theatre educators. There are grants available for both teachers and college students majoring in theatre education.
  3. Build a network of supporters in your community, such as a parent booster club; theatre is collaborative on and off the stage.