The Value of Perspectives

Support for the Arts is Essential

Abigail Scianella, Staff Writer

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I, along with a few others, recently finished my last show with Paint Branch Perspectives. That show, Annie, was the last piece any of us will do as part of Perspectives, a program and group that has changed our lives.

Personally, high school theatre has changed my life in a variety of ways. It has enabled me to make friends I wouldn’t have made otherwise, it’s allowed me to express myself in new and interesting ways, and it’s allowed me to get out of my own head every once in a while. If you know me, you know how much I need to get out of my own head.

For many people, theater allowed them to make unexpected friends. On the last night of Annie, many of the theater kids cried about how they would miss the new friends they had made throughout their time with Perspectives, and how thankful they were to have made them. Many even expressed that they wouldn’t have any friends if not for the theater program. Everyone in this group is part of a family, and each person cares deeply about one another. This is why saying goodbye was so a painful and long.

Multiple kids in the theatre program struggle with a variety of personal issues, many of which now seem normal for the average American high schooler. For myself, that includes mental illness. Theatre is a fantastic way to clear your head and relax; a great way to just have fun being someone else and not having to deal with your own troubles. It is even a way to find a new support system.

“Theater helped me grow more confident and feel more comfortable with who I am. It also helped me gain skills and friends that I wouldn’t have been able to get elsewhere, creating support I desperately needed,” says junior Caitlyn Neils, who has been doing tech for multiple shows.

Unfortunately, shows can’t last forever, and neither can theatre. And this is the story nationwide as funding for the arts – especially in schools – gets cut and people in the community don’t go to see the shows. Theater, like many programs in schools, operates on a very tenuous plane where every dollar counts. If funding is cut and people don’t support the program by attending shows, those programs, and kids, suffer.

So much effort and precision goes into a theater show, and it’s painful to think about how little the program reaps from what it sows. Perspectives is a life-changing experience, however, if it is not better supported it may, one day, not be an option. Every kid who comes to Paint Branch deserves the opportunity to try theatre, whether it’s out of a life-long love for acting or out of curiosity.

So if you have the chance, come see the shows next year. Bring your friends and bring your family. Audition for roles or join the tech crew to come build the sets and hang out. These shows are incredibly well-done and the work that everyone – cast, crew, and directors – puts in is astounding. Everyone deserves to be seen, and these kids deserve to show off all they’ve learned. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.