Arts Education Demonstration Project of the Marin Community Foundation
Rebecca Prather, Speech Therapist at Hall Middle School and Neil Cummins Elementary in Larkspur, was part of the Theatre Workshop at the Summer Arts Institute.
She believes the educational potency of theatre arts is that it makes thinking go deeper and become more sophisticated. It provides a way to work with many types of learners with physical disabilities, especially in speech and language, to develop clearer communication. As a speech pathologist I look through the lens of different kinds of learners, and my focus is how to support and help communication flourish. Thinking symbolically through Theatre puts you into the core of what is trying to be communicated and meaning is clarified and heightened. Really all the arts are based in symbolic thinking.
Language is often presented as a vocabulary list or a grammatical structure improvement. Working non-verbally boosts expressive language acquisition. Body language deepens the expressive component because it creates a semiotic connection to meaning. As individuals we strive to create meaning. When we’re given the opportunity to make meaning in new ways we become better communicators.
For example in Tableau, bodies are being used in ways that I wasn’t familiar with. You construct a story yourself and see if it makes sense. What can we do to make this more provocative? How does each gesture or blocking create a different meaning?
Theatre helps us express and access more complex ideas and emotions. I don’t know if there is another way to do that. If you can get the language to the side for a while, more is possible.