Since I directed my first theatrical extravaganza starring Hawaii Barbie as an alternative Snow White and my new baby born as the evil queen, I have always been addicted to theater and have always been involved as an actress, writer, dancer, etc. At the end of 2014 I decided to spread my wings and go do something completely different and see the world before I become too old to read my own lines.
Little did I know that "something completely different" would turn out to be so close to acting. I've noticed so many similarities between the acting and teaching professions. I should probably stop making notes about them on the back of essay papers, so here they are:
Both theater and teaching requires preparation for your performance.
Vocal warm-up and technique
It's no news that theater actors have to do a thorough vocal warm-up before a performance, but I've found this to be extremely beneficial and necessary for teachers as well. It is common for teachers to get vocal nodules or suffer from vocal fatigue from time to time. To protect my voice, I do vocal warm-ups every morning before class. I also practice the same diaphragmatic breathing technique in class as I do on stage to support my voice. In theater you do vocal gymnastics for about an hour or two. As a teacher you have to scold difficult children and constantly talk loud enough for everyone to hear for roughly 8 hours. You see why I think warming up your voice before teais crucial?
Time and content specific
When you choose a theater show, you choose the genre and content that you would like to see and you can already have a good idea of what to expect. Same goes for teaching. If you go to a geography class, you expect trees and waterfalls and some shit. I didn't pay attention in geography class at school.
In general, both professions work from a worked out text. Actors have scripts, teachers have textbooks.
Communication with the goal of informing or delivering a message
Theater is so diverse that you can hardly ever say something to be true for theater in general, however, in essence all forms of theater is a form of communication, an attempt to connect, to convey information or a point of view in some way. Some theater shows can be very didactic where an obvious link to teaching can be drawn. Other shows deliver a message or opinion in a more subtle way. Either way, the audience will hopefully be enlightened in some way. As a teacher you hope for the same outcome. Personally, I hope for enlightenment past the curriculum. If I can teach these children more than English, I will be a very happy teacher :).
Audience / Class
Actors have audience members. Teachers have students. Both can be difficult to control. Both sometimes need to be quiet and sometimes need to interact. Sometimes the audience /class is ignored. Sometimes there is a very direct and interactive connection.
Capturing and keeping attention
Both actors and teachers have to keep the attention of their listeners for the duration of the show or class.
Sometimes in theater you experience something truly magical. That moment when you're so connected to your audience that you completely zone out together and for that moment you forget about every and anything outside of the performance. I live for those moments and have had similar experiences in class where I am so connected to the students that I completely forget about time.
Although both are, at least roughly, planned, both are subject to interference and thus, both involve some improvisation for time to time. A lot can go wrong and you have to think on your feet and improvise.
Allows for immortality
If you're an actor or a teacher you serve your audience or class and try to make such an impression that can will leave a mark past your existence.
Love / hate relationship
Sometimes the audience will leave hatemail in your car wipers, sometimes they will bring you flowers and buy you a drink. Sometimes the kids can be very rude and sometimes they can make you feel so special.
Both professions can be very physically demanding. Especially if you're a kindergarten teacher or a physical theater performer.
If you're in it for the right reasons and are there to serve the audience or the students, then both are very noble professions.
Whether you're a good actor or a bad one, you will know it. Same goes for teaching. If they love you, you will definitely feel it and vice versa.
Change in the individual
Personally as an actress and cabaret artist, I hoped that each audience member would walk out of the theater a slightly different person than they were before the show. To let them think about something or consider their convictions. As a teacher, the goal is similar. The students come to me unable to speak English. They will hopefully leave each class a little more proficient in the language and, hopefully, learn some other valuable life lessons in the process.
Outgrowing a performance
Most probably, and there are obviously exceptions, you will constantly reach new levels of growth where things that once baffled or shocked your or experiences that once shaped you or information you once found stunning will no longer amaze you. I guess this shows that the experience had some success in it's goals in improving you.
You can always be a better actor and you can ALWAYS be a better teacher.
Turns out, I may have walked off the stage for a while, but I am still playing the same role and I am loving it.
Published by Dinie