The words of Princess Fiona, the gentle hearted ogress of Shrek the Musical, ring true to the possibilities that exist when we are young: “In the end, remember, all your dreams come true! Say your affirmations and love will come to you. If you can conceive it, believe it, achieve it.”
These are the words that we want to say to our children. They represent as well the spirit and the values that we want in the community-based organizations that serve and guide our children — the boys and girls clubs, the Y’s, the young leadership groups, and community theaters.
For example, where better than the stage to unleash the imagination, creativity and character of our young people? Where better to learn and practice the fundamentals of teamwork and character? Where better to learn the importance of sacrifice for the common good?
Think about it! When a child enters the world of theatre, he or she enters a world of necessary collaboration, where the final production is the sum of so many essential parts — cast, crew, musicians, design, lights, props, etc.
It’s great preparation for the challenges that will follow in later life.
Fortunately, in the Valley of the Sun, we are blessed with companies such as
Valley Youth Theatre that are deeply committed to creating environments where youth can dream, believe, and achieve.
As parents search for the best fit for their children, they might well seek those places that have a passion for enabling young people to be all that they can be; that can serve as stepping stones for future professional opportunities; that prepare young people to manage their priorities and their time effectively; that build their self-confidence; and that invest in them the importance of good citizenship.
I recall how important it was to find such places for my daughter and what a difference it has made in her life and in the development of her character.
As a teen, whatever shyness she had when she entered the world of chorus evaporated as soon as she became part of an urban ensemble of diverse, mutually caring, and supportive peers. The disciplined instruction and coaching of the musical directors motivated and inspired her. Her work in high school theatre enriched her sense of self, her confidence, and her poise and reinforced the importance of teamwork. The applause is just icing on the cake.
The professional and accomplished woman she is today can, in many respects, be traced back to those early experiences on stage and her engagement in something bigger than herself.
Indeed, “All the world’s a stage,” and youth theatre can be a key step in preparing our children to navigate that larger stage and realize a world of possibilities.