Why Theater Majors Are Important in Our High-Tech World

character-acting“Theater (slow, communal, physical) may be the cure for what ails us in the digital world,” writes Tracey Moore in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

According to Moore, today’s students are unfamiliar with the experience of being alone with their thoughts or of following their thoughts, unimpeded, wherever they might travel. And cellphone use is altering modes of attention, reducing eye contact, hurting necks and hands, and changing our brains and sleep cycles.

Moore continues: The skills you learn as a theater major, on the other hand, could be an antidote for college students who are said to be lacking empathy, isolated and narcissistic, distracted and jaded.

Moore also writes about “foresight,” which is the talent to envision many possible outcomes or possibilities, and which was present in all theater workers (playwrights, directors, designers, actors) who took an online survey from the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation between 2011 and 2014. And foresight would be impossible without empathy — “a kind of stepping into another person’s shoes that social scientists say is dwindling among college-age students.”

Moore points out that while some people may question the legitimacy of theater as a college major, businesses have recognized that elements of actor training can be used to develop creativity, improve communication, and resolve conflicts, and many corporate consultants with bachelor’s degrees in acting make a good living teaching improvisation, role play, and collaborative problem-solving to M.B.A.s.

As technology takes over more of our life, Moore suggests that theater can help us remember what it means to act like a human.

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