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How Acting Teaches What Books Cannot

What is acting?

Acting is pretending to be someone else. Acting is stepping into someone else’s shoes and walking around in them for a while - for a scene, for a song, for a dance. Acting uses your imagination. It’s creating an entire life and story for someone that isn’t yourself. When I am given a character to play, I ask myself: What does this person want and how do I connect with that? I start with what I know. I’ve played a mother but have never had a child; though I do know what it is like to love someone fiercely and need to protect them (I also have a dog who is the center of my being). I’ve played a doctor but have never gone through med school, and yet I do know what it’s like to work hard for something and be passionate about what you do. Before I know it, I’ve created a whole world and a whole life for this character that is rooted in something that is honest and truthful to me because I invested in the character and I used my imagination. The emotions I feel are real. I love all the characters I play (yes, even the bad guys!). Acting is therefore an exercise in empathy. It helps us understand each other. It challenges us to put away our judgements and really think about another person’s wants, fears, insecurities, and dreams. When we understand each other, we accept each other for our differences. If we are not willing to do this, we grow fearful and resentful of what we do not know and this leads to hatred and violence. ​This is why I think theatre and the Arts are essential in high school. We can learn historical facts and memorize data from a book, but what we miss out on is the capacity to understand ourselves and one another as human beings.

Science saves lives but the Arts are what we live for.

​I am passionate about SExT because I believe that we as a society can do better. I hate what I read in the news. I’ve seen bullying, harassment and domestic violence on the streets and people afraid to intervene or speak up. I know too many people in controlling and/or abusive relationships. The youth want to talk about sex. We as a society are silencing them and shaming them and this is what leads to unhealthy expressions of sex: violence against women, bullying, homophobia, and self harm. I have seen first hand what the power of acting has done for the youth at SExT. These young performers’ abilities to empathize with each other, see a different point of view, and then speak out about it inspires me. If they are able to do this, what are the rest of us capable of? Comment below and tell us what acting teaches you that books don't!

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