On the list of ridiculous things for which teenagers are mocked, participating in theater seems to be a major one. Younger thespians, commonly referred to as theater kids, should receive more credit and less ridicule. Many of the renowned and well-respected celebrities society cherishes took part in the same extracurricular activities and shared similar interests with the average theater kid when they themselves were younger. Despite this, statistically, students who engage in theater-related activities are more likely to be bullied by their peers and other children in their age group.
Confirmed by results of a national arts of education study, middle and high school students partaking in some form of art have a 34% chance of being bullied, meanwhile students who are not affiliated with the arts only have a 25% chance. This is not any fault of the young thespians, as this behavior is primarily due to the conformist way of thinking and insecurities of the persecuting students. Theater is and should be recognized as an admirable form of expression, since it calls for courage, passion and discipline.
The amount of bravery adult actors have to possess to perform on stage for an audience is impressive. High schoolers and middle schoolers, on the other hand, engaging with theater are just as admirable for the courage they’ve mustered up to continue doing what they love. It’s no secret that the teen years for many are filled with insecurities, anxieties and plenty of self-doubt. For someone to pursue a hobby that requires them to overcome those issues to a certain degree is an incredible feat. Instead of punishing young thespians for putting themselves out there, they should receive praise and encouragement.
There is an array of hobbies teenagers develop a passion for, and it’s unfair to pick and choose which ones are acceptable and which ones are considered shameful. It can be pretty difficult to figure out what exactly interests teenagers, considering high school is a major time for self-exploration. Acting is an objectively challenging passion to have, so students committed to continuously pursuing it deserve positive recognition at the very least. When it comes to any harmless pastime that someone is particularly devoted to, excessive and harsh judgement is uncalled for and illogical.
Being a thespian entails a large helping of discipline, which can be difficult to conjure up with other academic demands. Memorizing lines is just one of many aspects of theater that requires a strong work ethic. Stage positions, physical gestures, facial expressions and more go into representing a character in a particular way. After weeks or even months of preparing to perform for a live audience, young actors have to put in a tremendous amount of effort to cultivate a solid production. With this in mind, ridiculing students for participating in theater invalidates their hard work, which is an unpleasant experience.
Some might point out that anyone can become an actor if they’d like to during middle school and high school. The hobby may seem like it doesn’t require much talent or skill, considering actors are only expected to pretend to be someone or something else. Especially with many content creators on social media platforms, such as TikTok, sharing videos as self-proclaimed actors, the label “thespian” doesn’t hold as much importance as it did in previous generations. With this in mind, it doesn’t seem logical for theater kids to receive much more praise than what’s already been given. However, theater acting and acting seen on Tik Tok as well as other corners of the Internet are significantly different, with theatrical acting having more rigorous expectations. While talent isn’t an essential quality in young thespians, their acting skill set can be and typically is sharpened by simply engaging with theater. If the actor holds consistent dedication to the art, more likely than not, skill improvement over a course of time develops into an impressive performance. This logic applies to any hobby in general. Even then, actors who don’t consider themselves necessarily talented are still deserving of the same respect because they prioritize their innocuous, personal interest over the negative opinions of others.
While the instant reaction of some students when they hear the phrase “theater kid” is contempt and discomfort, young thespians are more than worthy of better repute. This misconstrued perception of them is a direct result of people’s endless pursuit to conform to whatever is considered socially acceptable. If met with the opportunity to stifle an unnecessarily rude comment or action towards a fellow student in theater, do so. Treat young thespians the way people should be treated for being openly authentic: with common decency. Ultimately, people who look down upon their peers who are harmlessly expressing themselves are making it abundantly clear that they would struggle to do the same.