So in case you missed it, it’s New Year, and for many that means creating lists of ‘resolutions’. These are normally lifestyle changes to make this year infinitely better than the last. People sign up to costly gym memberships, fork out a fortune for online language classes, or buy themselves an expensive late Christmas present, such as an top-of-the-range camera or a pair of ice skates, which gets used once and then sits under the stairs gathering dust. These grand life plans decided on the 1st January are forgotten, as real life starts to take over and old habits rear their ugly heads again.
Now, evidently, I am not really a believer in New Year’s Resolutions as such. I do, however, recognise that the feeling of inclusivity New Year’s can bring is just the motivation many people need to change their lives for the better. What with everyone starting their healthier lifestyles, learning new things, or going on adventures, it is easy to be swept up in the excitement. The problem is this communal energy does not last all year. People set resolutions that are not sustainable, and this is why only 8% of people actually stick to their New Year’s Resolutions.
‘But what does any of this have to do with theatre?’ I hear you cry. Well I posit you this, rather than making dramatic, unsustainable New Year’s Resolutions, the art of drama can be a tool to help you stick to the goals you have set yourself for the year to come. Trust us on this one – Here are some examples of how some of the most commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions can be adhered to if you make them about theatre.
Learn a new skill
Many people start the year wishing to learn something new. While this is a very admirable, resolution, it can also be expensive as the cost of lessons and equipment adds up, while the obligation to continue with classes can make learning a chore rather than a pleasure. Drama, is the perfect new hobby. It need not be an expensive: get involved with your school, university, or local drama club. You can usually sign up for free, and then you have the opportunity to learn new skills that can help with public speaking, social engagement, and you have the chance to sharpen your intuition towards the emotions of others. In addition, an actor’s tool is their body, so no extra equipment is necessary. All you have to do is go and have fun with a group of like-minded people. See, we told you this could work.
‘This year I want to be more well-read’. It’s a goal to make you seem more cultured at those elusive dinner parties you haven’t had yet, but definitely will at some point. So you go out, buy a copy of War and Peace, and remain on page 20 for the rest of the year when the book falls under your bed and gets forgotten about. Now, if you struggle to keep up the regular reading necessary to make it through a novel, then the theatre is a perfect alternative. You sit for two hours and are led through the live-action story by the actors on stage. The immediacy of the piece make it much more memorable than if you were sat quietly, trying to get through Pride and Prejudice on your own. No extra effort necessary when you go to see a play, and you expand your cultural knowledge every time. So maybe now it’s time to organise that dinner party.
Everyone wants to travel and experience new things, right? Unfortunately, due to a lack of holiday time, the great amount of planning needed, and costs, this can be a very difficult resolution to keep. The theatre is a great way to travel without even having to leave the country. You can go to Austria in ‘The Sound of Music’, New Orleans in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, or even Ancient Egypt in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Now theatre gets a bad rep for being expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are often cheap tickets available on Ebay or with companies like Tkts, and smaller theatres offer tickets at reasonable prices for incredible shows. So it’s cheap and it’s basically the same as going on holiday, is what we’re saying.
Be less stressed
In our technological age, less stress seems to be at the top of everyone’s wish list. The theatre is not only a relaxing activity for an audience member, who gets two hours to forget about their daily worries and let their imaginations run with the characters on stage. Drama is also a relaxing activity for actors. Although an actor will undoubtedly be nervous before they go on stage, theatre is a way to communicate, to express emotions, and makes you part of a community that allows you to feel supported. Both as an observer and a practitioner of the arts there is an opportunity to shed the stress of our modern world.
See – didn’t think we’d do it did you – but it just goes to show, everyone can benefit from a little bit more theatre in their life. Especially with these New Year’s resolutions flying around.