Theodor Herzl: one of many schools caught up in a creative storm

BY DAVID LIMBERT
Schools throughout Port Elizabeth have been creating artistic productions of a professional standard for over a decade.

Adding to the audience experience, Magnetic Storm1 has offered mentoring to these schools, coupled with the hire of equipment for the technical crew to create sound and lighting experiences one would expect in established theatres.
So much goes on behind the scenes to create a theatre production, much of which falls under the heading of technical services, and although technical in name, the execution is more creative. Lighting and sound create mood. It enhances any performance on stage and gives the audience goosebumps and puts them on the edge of their seat. Without technical creativity and skills, ‘behind the scenes’, productions would be a less immersive experience.

Sparking an interest

By spending time with young people, professionals in the arts can spark an interest in the entertainment industry and expose them up to experiences and potential careers they may have never considered. Plus, according to researchers, studying the arts also improves student capabilities in other areas as well, including in the sciences, maths and reading.2 So it’s a vital element in the education system.
At Magnetic Storm, we
train and mentor learners so
that they run the shows themselves. Mentoring is available for positions of great responsibility such as stage management. By empowering the students, we are teaching them about responsibility, leadership and teamwork.
Magnetic Storm also exhibits at the Working World Exhibition in Port Elizabeth3 to showcase the roles that exist in the events and entertainment industry, and to encourage work experience and further studies within the field. Working in entertainment gives you an opportunity to travel the world. You meet the most amazing people, see some interesting sights and get to flex your creative muscles to wow audiences on a weekly, if not daily basis.
The training also filters throughout the school system, as skills learnt are applied to smaller school productions (house plays and assemblies, etc.) and shared with other learners through extra-mural clubs. Passionate young ‘theatre people’ can then use their skills in local community theatre as they get more involved in productions.

Arts deserves focus in schools

In South Africa, everyone understands the value of sport, not least because as children, we all took part on playing fields across the land. But there is an obvious disconnection between those who are lucky enough to experience the value of the arts and those who are not.
If we are serious about finding the Chad le Clos4 of the theatre world, we must begin to fight way the arts are sidelined in many schools.5 Theatre arts and sport command the same disciplined team-building skills and provide the same adrenaline-producing confidence boost in children as sport does. One way to secure meaningful change, is for schools to put the arts on the same footing as sports, by dedicating a certain number of hours a week for creative learning taught by drama teachers in every school, just as physical education is compulsory in early education.
Theodor Herzl School, which staged “Cirque Spectacular” in March 2019, is an example of a school working to prevent the steady decline of the arts. And it’s up to corporates and professionals working within the entertainment industry to support them.

How to hone the ‘soft’ skills

In my opinion, as artificial intelligence develops and grows in the workplace, the new ‘must-have’ for prospective employees will be emotional intelligence.6 Honing empathy and creative leadership skills will empower a new generation of cultural heroes. From Australia to Singapore,7 researchers and commentators are observing how the performing arts benefit young people.
I urge you to get involved in youth theatre, support where you can and champion young South Africans looking to enter the entertainment industry.

David Limbert is head of creative services at Magnetic Storm in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

References:
1. See: http://www.magnetic.co.za/content/hire-and-events 2. See: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-
chalkboard/2019/02/12/new-evidence-of-the-benefits-of-arts-education/ 3. See: https://workingworldexpo.co.za/
4. See: http://chadleclos.com/
5. See: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/jan/06/secret-
teacher-unbalanced-curriculum-sats-assessment-children-art-music-languages-
sidelined
6. See: https://hbr.org/2017/02/the-rise-of-ai-makes-emotional-intelligence-more-
important
7. See: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/childhood/professionals/
learning/ecliteracy/interactingwithothers/Pages/performingarts.aspx and http://singteach.nie.edu.sg/issue02-ideas02/

Category: Winter 2019

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