by Cathy Colliver
I almost don’t remember a time that Art wasn’t in my life.
My father served on the board of StageOne Family Theatre when I was younger, and I attended StageOne performances on field trips and outside of school. I particularly remember the productions of The Secret Garden and The Diary of Anne Frank.
The idea of taking stories from books and making them come alive on stage has fascinated me ever since, and was certainly on my mind when I reviewed East of Eden Part I at Actors Theatre of Louisville for my high school newspaper.
I became involved in the creative side of theatre early on as my siblings and I put on little performances at home, and I later joined the Drama Club in high school, with work as a performer, playwright and director.
I went on to intern in marketing at Actors Theatre before attending college where I majored in Theatre with a focus in directing, coordinated an open mic series and co-founded a student theatre group where I wrote, performed, directed and stage managed. I’ve held internships at New World Theater, Arena Stage and Trinity Repertory Company. After college, I co-founded and co-produced The Late Seating at Actors, a late night series featuring artists in performance, music, film and visual arts. I’ve also served as a board member and board president with Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble.
So I know first-hand that the Arts can teach self-confidence, creativity, empathy, diversity, cooperation, collaboration, problem solving, self-discipline, trust, spatial skills, memory, social awareness, analytical thinking and project management.
I have used every one of those skills in my marketing career.
And I’ve also heard countless stories from former co-workers and friends of the power of arts education to transform the lives of at-risk children.
But it wasn’t until my own son – who does not fit the typical “at-risk” profile – was impacted by this transformation that this idea really hit home.
While attending daycare, my son and a few of his friends were targeted by bullying behavior from a group of classmates. The situation was monitored by teachers and the center’s director. And they truly did everything they could to diffuse situations that arose, separate the kids instigating the behavior, and talk to both the children and their parents.
While this was happening, I saw my son almost shrink into himself. He didn’t want to go to daycare. He wasn’t enjoying the learning activities. He was not smiling. He was not himself.
No kid should have to experience bullying, but definitely not at the ages of 3 and 4.
Around the same time, the opportunity arose for him to participate in a weekly drama class. Within a few weeks, he was proudly telling me about the parts of the stage and how much fun he was having. He also started enjoying other school activities again. He had regained his confidence, and the smiles returned.
When the drama class performed their showcase, I watched with pride as my son performed as the “bricks” pig in The Three Little Pigs, and the troll in The Billy Goats Gruff. I could not have been prouder if my son was elected President of the United States. He remembered all of his lines, spoke clearly, and got really into the physicality of the roles.
Since then he has continued to participate in drama and perform as Charlie Brown, and as Max in Where the Wild Things Are. And I’ve started to take him to StageOne Family Theatre performances as well. We also go to art shows to see his step-grandmother’s work. And I’m planning on taking him to see A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre for the first time this year.
So to me #ArtIs the way art can be a part of our lives from the time we are children.
#ArtIs the way we as parents can actively introduce our children to art in all its many forms.
#ArtIs the way we as a community can help support organizations like Fund for the Arts, so that all children in our community can experience the Arts – regardless of their ability to pay.
#ArtIs My Son.