Thespian Troupe promotes the magic of theatre in schools

Sabina Massiah-Heywood, Staff Writer

Senior Lauren Molenda has been involved in theater since 7th grade, and has continued on to take on major roles, both on the stage and off. Despite her active involvement, she has some different plans for her future career.

“So, for my future career, I plan to major in elementary education and alot of people think, ‘Well how theater is connected to teaching or school?’, but for me theater has been one of the most educational things in my life,” Molenda said.

Molenda says her passion for teaching others stemmed from her own experiences.

“I’ve had such a good influence from my teachers…Mr. Mackey, the theater director, has been such a special teacher to me,” Molenda said. “He’s really helped me be successful and get to where I am in both theater and in general, in my life. Having that mentor figure in my life has really motivated me to make a difference. I can see myself being a teacher and making a difference in kids’ lives like he’s made a difference in mine”.

The senior is just one of many students throughout the country benefiting from the opportunities provided by theater education, which is being celebrated during Theatre in Our Schools Month.

Molenda recently just wrapped up her second term serving as an Indiana State Thespian Officer, which was an opportunity she believes gave her great experience in the professional world.

“I have learned so many things that  people wouldn’t necessarily connect to theater through theater,” Molenda said. “ I have learned so many life skills and through the opportunities I’ve had…I’ve been able to become a leader in my school and in Indiana Thespians as a state organization that has gained me lots of confidence “.

Before transitioning to teach theater courses and becoming the director of the Thespian Troupe back in 2012, Mr. Thomas Mackey worked professionally in film, television, and live theatre, making him a strong advocate for theater education. 

“Theater is such an all inclusive [subject], that when we teach theater it’s not just teaching you how to act or be athletic,” Mr. Mackey said. “We teach history, English, science, math… we teach the industrial parts, we teach design, you know, we teach everything. There is nothing that is off topic in the world of theater”.

Throughout the month of March, thespians across the globe have been celebrating Theatre in our Schools Month and advocating for the opportunities and benefits of theater in regards to learning. 

“Not only would you seem to improve academically, but it also improves soft skills, like leadership, time management, your ability to communicate to address crowds of people,” Mr. Mackey said. “It also teaches empathy and compassion, it helps you to understand different perspectives without judging those perspectives, and just by rule, makes you a more well-rounded individual”.

Throughout the year, students have multiple opportunities to participate in various performance and technical activities, building their creative and professional skills.

“Not only do we have extracurricular activities such as the fall play, the spring musical, the talent revue, but there are lots of classes that students can take, starting with theater arts, technical theater, and moving on to more advanced classes like advanced acting and theater production,” Mr. Mackey said. “The education that you get in these classes can help prepare students if they want to compete at the regional or state competitions, and furthermore, they can earn scholarships from various universities based on the work that they do”.

Molenda says that schools can support their theater programs by coming to see shows and overall advocating for the benefits theater education provides for students. 

Earlier this year, the Thespian Troupe performed their fall play, Rose and The Rime, during the school day, showcasing their talent to students and staff across the school.

“Having the opportunity to perform and show kids in the school what theater is all about…like what cool things we can do [in] the performing arts department was a great opportunity,” Molenda said. Because a lot of the time,  kids don’t even know that we have a Thespian Troupe or that we do shows here, so it’s good to get other students involved and to be able to show off what we worked so hard for.”