Production Blog

A behind the scenes peek at rehearsals, artistic choices, artist interviews, and the daily business of running a theatre.

How theater can teach our kids to be empathetic

A Washington Post Persepectives article by Alexandra Moe called How theater can teach our kids to be empathetic caught our eye recently.  

"Several studies show communication skills are the most essential skills for navigating American adult life — better communicators are hired more often, enjoy happier relationships and marriages, ascend to leadership positions, and possess higher self-esteem. The ability to manage personal emotions and to recognize them in others — also known as emotional intelligence — is a predictor of academic and professional success. These skills are often taught through Social Emotional Learning programs, offered in K-12 schools in 27 states.

But they are also a by-product of theater class, according to a recent study from George Mason University and the Commonwealth Theatre Center. The study follows children aged 5 to 18 over six years — the longest look at theater’s impact in kids to date — and finds increases in communication skills across age, gender and race. “The longer the kids spent in the theater classes, the more they gained in 21st century skills, like communication, creativity, imagination, problem solving, and collaboration,” says Thalia Goldstein, the study’s co-author and an associate professor of applied developmental psychology at George Mason University.

Theater involves “active learning” — getting up on your feet to take in information, rather than merely sitting at a desk. “When you put something in your body, it’s more durable, it lasts longer, and you remember it longer,” says Kathryn Dawson, associate professor of theater at the University of Texas at Austin. And theater involves more than one “mode”: verbalizing, while making a gesture or expression, which research shows boosts brain activity."

Keep reading the full article at the Washington Post. It is fascinating.

By the way, our theatre classes are registering now :)


Patron Spotlight: Al Celaya

 Stage West’s Development Director, Tonya Wilson-Brown, recently got the chance to chat with beloved and long-time Stage West board member Al Celaya. An avid theatre-goer, Al reminisces about many memorable shows throughout the years.

1. How did you hear about Stage West, and how long have you been attending?

I moved to the DFW area at the end of the 1980s, but my job had me on the road for about 48 weeks out of the year at that time. Things later slowed down and a friend took me to see Travels with my Aunt during the 2003-2004 season and I was hooked. I have been a season ticket holder ever since.

2. What is your favorite show you have seen at the theatre and why?

So many to choose from! Watching Jerry Russell and his monologues in The Pillowman and The Seafarer were memorable and powerful. Season’s Greetings (the first show back at the current location). All of the Jeeves plays and Martin McDonagh’s Irish plays. The magic stage in Noises Off. Even the October Playlets, which showed how Stage West was able to overcome pandemic problems and persevere. Every season holds several “favorite” plays of mine and it is hard to just pick one. It’s like trying to pick my favorite all-time Dallas Cowboy. But for some reason, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence is one that has really stuck with me.

3. What is your favorite show of this season and why?

Since we have only had one show so far this season, it would be Guards at the Taj. All of it created a believable yet magical place and time. Outstanding! But there is always one play each season which surprises me with the story, the excellence of the cast and the overall quality of the production. I look forward to all of the plays this season.

4. Why do you support Stage West?

Our world has changed so much in the past 20 years. We used to have critics on the staff of our local newspapers who reviewed plays and got the word out on what was available and kept theater in the minds of readers. But then, our world is always changing whether we notice or not. The arts in general have had to compete for the minds and support of the community and their role in nurturing and nourishing our environment. Stage West has recognized these changes and its mission has adapted. It is still a place to see the best theater in the region. The quality of the performances and the production space continues to improve. Stage West also has a strong and growing education program that has touched thousands of students of all ages throughout the area. Between the performances with the FWISD at Bass Hall each year, to the classes held at the theater for kids and adults, the theatre is spreading the magic of the stage to new audiences. I believe in the mission of Stage West and I believe in the staff who make it all happen and I am happy to give of my time and resources to help them keep growing.

5. If you had 3 words to describe Stage West to a new patron, what would they be?




We are so grateful to Al for his support of Stage West and the local arts scene through the years!


A moment with Director Illana Stein about the style

Q: This show is a romantic comedy in the best sense - hilarious, charming, heartwarming, and tender! While this is a genre that is familiar and recognizable to most people, it can be a deceptively difficult style to achieve. Without giving too much away, how do you think this script overturns our expectations of what a romantic comedy can be, and what excites you most about working on this genre?

A: What I love about directing Handle With Care is how many surprises and reveals are layered into the script. At first glance, the romantic comedy genre may feel predictable, but with this story, there are many twists and turns that take you to unexpected places. Working on this play has led to rich conversations with the actors about character relationships and family dynamics. What may feel deceptive is how deep this play can get especially when tapping into themes about destiny and soulmates. In the rehearsal room, the actors and I have to do the hard work of connecting all of the dots so the audience can fully enjoy the journey, watching as the story unfolds. It is my job to make sure the serious moments land, as well as the jokes, and that is only possible with casting capable actors. We got that part right! This cast is incredible. Join us for the mayhem and stay for the holiday magic!