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Positive Mental Attitude

Positive Mental Attitude


As I get older and teach and perform longer, I am ever more aware of the benefits that theatre training has given to me and I become ever more determined to teach young, upcoming children the theatre skills that I use every day.  There are so many skills and abilities that creating and performing plays teaches.  Think of how many times a day you have to organize your thoughts and activities in sequence and then attempt to carry out that sequence.  We all do that when we make a shopping list for a special party of eight and have to get in and out of the supermarket in 45 minutes, then time the rice and meat to be done at the same time as the more tender vegetables and have the table set with the special dishes and silverware and candles lit, our “props”, just in time for the entrance of our guests, the “cast”.  NEYT children do this over and over again, week after week,  month after month, “under the gun”, with fixed time constraints, pages of lines, song lyrics, and dance moves memorized, and wearing strange period clothing, performed at high intensity and volumn, under all-revealing lights, with 150 people watching!  To do this takes  an amazing amount of intellect, concentration, fortitude, courage, guts and an unshakable “Positive Mental Attitude!”
Think of the board meeting or classroom or work detail or political campaign or major fundraiser that you have had to organize and run with ease and panache.  Think of your people management skills, the teamwork skills you had to have to pull those things off. Theatre training teaches all these skills efficiently and infallibly over and over again to children of all ages, even the very young! Many of the critical skills needed to succeed in business, education, sports, politics, religion are all taught through theatre.  But most of all, my colleagues and I teach children to build unshakable confidence, courage and a “Positive Mental Attitude”.  A “Positive Mental Attitude” is absolutely essential to success in any endeavor.  Without it your teammates will avoid, even shun you, your company will not trust or invest in your vision, your staff won’t follow your lead, your friends will be few and far between, and, in fact, you will constantly doubt yourself.
Theatre is the great leveler.  In theatre there is no place to hide. When the lights come up, we enter the stage and trust each other and ourselves to play at our very best each and every moment. We don’t play to win, we play to create a magical, compelling event.  We don’t attempt to conquer others for they are our partners in the great quest to bring the play to life, that night, in that moment. We “leap” and the “net” we trust to catch us is our unshakable belief in our own and our fellow actors’ “Positive Mental Attitude”, an attitude that says, “together, all things are possible; we can be whatever and whomever we choose to be. In this moment on stage, we are invincible!”  That unshakable attitude is what we quest to teach all of our students, every day in every class, in every rehearsal, in every performance!  Watch closely what the children are doing right before your very eyes, under lights, “under the gun”, and see if you don’t agree that theatre is a great teacher of “Positive Mental Attitude” and that these children possess it.
Stephen Stearns

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