VATV Blog

Live Theater Provides Major Benefits for Students.

Vocabulary, Comprehension, Empathy, Tolerance

Frankly, I thought Mel Gibson’s Hamlet was pretty great, but my most vivid memories are of going to see Measure for Measure at The Arena Stage when I as in High School, despite the fact that I hadn’t yet read the play.

Stephan Wolfert in Bedlam's Hamlet Streamed live to NYC Schools

Stephan Wolfert in Bedlam’s “Hamlet” Streamed live to NYC Schools

Every student in the US studies Shakespeare as part of their English curriculum. The challenge with teaching Shakespeare of course is that Shakespeare was never meant to be read, it was written to be seen and heard and experienced. Mel Gibson’s Hamlet or Polanski’s Macbeth or Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet are great alternatives when you can’t get to the real thing – but I’ve long believed that no movie is a substitute for a live experience and have dreamt of live-streaming Shakespeare to schools for years. Now – a formal study bears my passions out.

Just realeased by EducationNext.org and summarized in Science Daily a new study concludes that there are Major Benefits For Students Who Attend Live Theater. Those benefits include:

  • increased understanding of the text
  • increased vocabulary
  • greater tolerance
  • improved ability to read the emotions of others.

Now this study refers to all live theater experiences as “field trips”. Of course it does, the only way to view live theater, until now, was to hire buses and transport your students to a local theater. However it is not the taking of the field trip that the study sites as creating such a significant benefit to students, rather it is the intensity and immediacy of live performance – is is this very intensity and immediacy that makes live-streamed theater – (when done right!) so exciting so engaging and so effecting. To quote our audience members:

The thrill of live theatre, the feeling of being part of it and yet I’m miles away…amazing. – Carolyn, MA

You can actually hear her breathing!… Wow. Like a front row seat. – @cyncooperwrtr

Do you realize what you are doing?!?! I live in the middle of the woods in a city of 300 people and I am watching live New York Theater! This is a breakthrough! – Elsa M, Oregon

Heather Van Velsor in Mythos  -

Heather Van Velsor in “Mythos” which VATV is live-streaming to students throughout the country this winter.

There is no reason why live-theater can’t be a great teaching tool for every school – because now we can bring it right to you and everyone of your students will feel like they are sitting in a front row seat. And, unlike in a physical theater, your students can tour backstage, can talk to the actors, can hear their name called out when we answer their personal questions. Today’s educational theater is live-streamed, it is immersive, it is interactive, it is thrilling and deeply educational!

Learn more about VATV’s Educational initiative here

And check out the article in ScienceDaily and EducationNext.

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