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Learning with theatre

In psychology, the term "cognitive functions" refers to human processes such as thinking, perceiving, sensing, judging, desiring and acting. The term "cognitive", which originated in psychology, refers to those human abilities that are related to perception, learning, memory and thinking, i.e. in connection with human cognition and information processing.

In addition to cognitive functions, executive functions are also promoted. Executive functions refer to a group of cognitive processes that are necessary for goal-oriented and self-controlled behaviour. They are crucial for planning and organising tasks, initiating and monitoring actions, and suppressing inappropriate or disruptive responses.

The abilities to calm oneself, to control one's attention, to store information and to work with the stored information are controlled by the frontal brain.

This means that children can learn specific impulse control when playing theatre.

Playing theatre teaches us exactly that:

  • Setting goals

  • strategic action planning

  • self-control

  • conscious control of attention

  • self-correction

  • sequencing and coordinating actions

Well-developed executive functions are an important prerequisite for successful learning and the controlled handling of one's own emotions.

For all these reasons, we call theatre a school for life!


Or why it is not so important that children understand everything straight away

Playing theatre can help children develop a better feeling for language, because by memorising texts, previously unknown expressions, words and phrases are imprinted in their memory and gradually become part of their language use. Sometimes children do not understand many expressions at first, which is why it is immensely important to do good text work and explain terms. In fact, repeating the texts is an essential element of learning. You will be surprised how quickly children often use words previously unknown to them at first as fun, but then soon really see them as normal.

Why classic texts?

Of course, they don't have to be classical texts, but from our experience we know that classical texts offer many advantages:.

Firstly, the content is often timeless, it is about love, jealousy, envy, reconciliation, in short: about topics that affect humanity always and everywhere. The plays are often transposed to the present day, though usually little changes in the content.

Secondly, although the language is difficult at first, this challenges the children and encourages their linguistic development. The scenes we have chosen are very exciting. This tension is important because it is the only way to get the children's attention.

Children do not like boring and instructive plays.

We don't want to teach moral values, but above all to promote the children's cognitive and linguistic skills.

Classical pieces are always available everywhere, no royalties have to be paid for playing them and the choice is limitless.

Voice, Breath and Articulation


The working instrument of an actor is his voice. Without a voice, an actor would be like an orchestra musician without his instrument. But we are not so aware that this "tool" also has to be learned and trained.

Voice and breath have to be trained daily and theatre schools offer a whole repertoire of exercises.

The actor must speak in such a way that the listener can listen and understand. Only if the volume and linguistic clarity are sufficient can the listener follow what is being said.

Frequently inserted pauses are a very important instrument that must be used purposefully. They can be short or long, depending on your preference.

Sometimes one has the impression oneself that one is speaking quite exaggeratedly clearly, but for the audience it is often only then that it becomes understandable what is being spoken on stage.


Speaking is always part of a whole-body process and can hardly be used in isolation from the other bodily means of expression. This means for the training of speech that it must be created within the psychophysical overall function of the human body if it is to be successful.

The goal of speech formation work is the awareness of one's own vocal, articulatory and speech-forming means.

The term articulation comes from the Latin articulare and means to pronounce clearly. In the linguistic sense, articulation refers to the formation of sounds and words in human speech, i.e. the motor process of speaking in spoken languages.

It is possible to improve articulation through targeted, logopaedic exercises, to refine and make speech more precise. If speech, articulation, often seems self-evident, there is much more behind it, because with every new contact the voice decides how what is said is perceived, how it affects the other person. In everyday professional life, the articulation of the voice is an essential factor for success or failure. Clear articulation embodies self-confidence, seriousness and intelligence. A clear formulation of words and a pleasant tone of voice are among the essential factors for achieving professional success. Targeted voice training can significantly improve articulation so that the right tone can always be struck. A simple exercise to improve your articulation is to speak frequently in front of a mirror and check the opening of your mouth. It can also be helpful to speak sentences on a dictation machine to check how intelligible the pronunciation is.

For people who speak a little slurred or "mumble", the so-called cork exercise is recommended. This involves taking a wine cork between the teeth and reading a longer text aloud. By having to speak through a resistance, the chewing muscles are trained. Stronger chewing muscles lead to clearer articulation.

Notes on developmental psychology

In order to create optimal conditions for learning, interpersonal actions and emotional well-being must be present. Emotional experience and cognitive performance are directly linked in the human brain. Scientists also assume that the development of synaptic connections in the brain is influenced by the experiences of our environment.

And it is precisely for this reason that concrete support through a diverse range of activities in these delicate phases of growing up is downright essential to guarantee a child's healthy development.

However, this stimulus in development can only bear fruit if the appropriate developmental tasks can be mastered at the respective stage. As a result, harmonious further development occurs.

Social / Empathy

By slipping into a role, the child learns to immerse itself in a different emotional world. He has to put himself in the role of a desperate lover (Romeo), a somewhat eccentric craftsman who is desperate to put on a play in front of the king (Sequence) or a rejecting bride who is running away from her lover (Hermia). How does this character think, what is his relationship to the other characters and how do the others think about him?

In one scene, for example, a child has to play the aggressive challenger, then in the next already the abandoned lover. These are very different levels of feeling. That means that you have to leave the emotional level of aggression very quickly. If you have practised this on stage, it is easier to control your feelings in "normal" life.

That is precisely a very basic challenge and also the true school for life. Empathy can be learned.

What it means to slip into a different role

The role we assign to a child is very important. One should be aware that the child is confronted with many different feelings and information during the time he or she is involved in the creation of a character - be it for a week or even a few months.

First of all, it will spend its time studying the psychology of the character; this contact is very close. The child will draw comparisons to similar life experiences or, if that is not the case, use their imagination to picture certain actions or feelings that they might go through in the future (or even in the present). Sometimes this process can be so intense, and the role taken so seriously, that the child can adopt tics, gestures, reactions or even life concepts from the character they are studying. Therefore, good teaching and training, as well as fine observation of the children during this process are necessary.

There is a saying in theatre: the right distribution of roles is 50% of the work in a performance.

Class community

For the class community, however, much more counts: The goal of all children is a successful performance, which can only be achieved together. Not one star alone should shine on stage, because a performance can only work if everyone works together.

If someone forgets his or her lines, the other children on stage have to improvise and support him or her. In this way, the children learn spontaneity and flexibility.

The children also become aware that not only the actor:in who plays a major role is important, but also the prompter, the ticket seller and the set designers. Theatre is TEAMWORK!

The joy after a successful performance strengthens the cohesion of a group enormously. Therefore, there is a motto that can be repeated before every performance: "One for all and all for one!"

Many things in theatre are learned consciously: the text, the direction, the movements etc.. But what is even more important for children and speaks for playing theatre with children is everything that happens unconsciously in the children's heads: thought and perception processes are triggered, such as thoughts, wishes, attitudes, opinions, knowledge and experiences that cannot be measured but are priceless.

In every role you play, there is a certain part of yourself in it. It has to be like that, otherwise it's just not acting, then it's lying. (Johnny Depp)

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