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Blogging with Brendan: Beyond Acting Class – Teaching Theatre in New Ways

What continues to amaze me about my chosen field (which is theatre, by the way) is its versatility. “All the world’s a stage,” wrote Shakespeare famously in my, ahem, second favorite play of his, As You Like It— and elements of the theatre really do crop up everywhere you look. What’s more, the lessons that theatre training affords have wide-ranging applications, from public speaking, to improved team work, to creative problem-solving. Theatre education truly is the Swiss army knife of disciplines. Minus the sharp edges.

When you take a theatre class at QCT, we address this right off the bat. We talk about how you can take lessons learned in your acting class (such as how to work with a scene partner) and use them to strengthen your work in school with, say, a lab partner. We applaud your bravery in “putting yourself out there” every time you step on stage and remind you that, next time you give that book report, you can remember this moment of triumph. But what if we approached theatre education the other way around? What if we brought the world to the stage? And what do I even mean by that?

As a theatre maker and a theatre educator, I love to experiment with new ideas on stage and in the classroom. The versatility of theatre and its constant evolution inspires me to keep expanding the boundaries of what we can even call “theatre.” This applies to my approach to course development at QCT, too. In addition to offering classic acting and movement classes, you will occasionally see this idea of “bringing the world to the stage” in the form of YouTube Creator classes, “Jukebox Musical” playwriting, and even a class this summer on building an Escape Room. On the surface, these aren’t your typical theatre classes. In fact, you might wonder why a community theatre would be the right place to learn such things. Well, it is!

Let’s take our Escape Room class, “Escape the Lab,” for an example. An Escape Room is an immersive game where you and a group of other participants are “locked” in a room (trust me, it’s fun). Working together, you must solve a series of clever puzzles that will, eventually, allow you to unlock the door. Escape Rooms have become very popular outings for groups of friends, family members and even coworkers looking for a unique team-building opportunity. So where does theatre come in? Escape Rooms are themed (I’ve participated in a prison room, an ancient tomb, and a crashed airplane, to name a few) and often feature a story that is communicated to the players in clever, non-linear ways. Sometimes there are characters that are played by actors, which add to the immersive narrative experience. The player is both the audience member and main character in this story, and they get to make choices that impact the experience– the story moves closer to its goal when each puzzle is solved. Finally, the very nature of an Escape Room requires teamwork and creative problem solving to complete; these are two skills that the theatre holds a particular domain over. To create an Escape Room will also require incredible collaboration, as well as a unique perspective on storytelling. Just like a playwright crafts a play carefully to engage an audience in its story (often asking them to “connect the dots” throughout the narrative), our Escape Room makers will use the tools of the theatre to develop a satisfying experience with deep audience participation. 

We hope that, by involving our community in classes like “Escape the Lab,” that they join us in thinking creatively about how theatre is more than just great productions on the stage; theatre really is everywhere! Who knows what we’ll come up with next? 

To learn more about QCT’s education program and all it has to offer, visit the Education tab above.

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