Students find more than an artistic outlet in Dayton’s theatre community

Part III of III


The Last Supper: Pictured are youth performers mid-show during a rehearsal for Dare2Inspire’s summer production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Karina Czeiszperger, Managing Editor

Dayton’s theatre community has a wealth of opportunities for students participating in and viewing the performing arts, but the impact of these activities goes deeper than the products seen on the stage. 

Abbie Stone (11), who participates in Lumberjack Theatre as well as various extracurricular theatre groups such as Muse Machine and Dare2Inspire, said, “Dayton is a big city of arts, so once you get involved in one kind of theatre outside of your own school it’s like a new world that you get to see.”

Entertainment can often be used as a break from everyday situations. People often get caught up in the rush of daily life and find solace in absorbing themselves in a fictional world for a brief period of time. For Julie Murphy (11), this extends to theatre.

“When you see a show it kind of pulls your attention from the stresses of normal life. That’s what I love about it. I love being distracted from everything and just focusing on what I love to do,” Murphy said.

Theatre cultivates a unique environment for young actors to learn and grow not only in their abilities, but in their own lives.

Executive director of Dare2Defy, Becki Norgaard, said, “Theatre is such an important thing for younger people because you get to learn about empathy, you get to learn how to walk in someone else’s shoes, you learn to be a better communicator.”

Learning skills like these can help young people interact with the world around them and teach them valuable lessons that apply to anything from interpersonal relationships to school. Managing a schedule that includes hours of rehearsal after school and homework means that students participating in these programs have to assume the responsibility of organization.

Murphy, who has worked both as a professional actress and performed in community theatre and school productions within the community said, “It’s definitely helped me manage my time better and realize there’s only 24 hours in a day, I have to plan [ahead].”

Murphy moved to Oakwood in 8th grade. She notes that her involvement in theatre made the transition to a new school much easier.

“Being a part of [theatre] definitely connected me with a lot more people,” Murphy said. “I got to know a lot more people at Oakwood than I did before, so it was great being a new student having that kind of environment.”

The idea of being a part of a group that provides a place to feel at home is a common thread when discussing the performing arts. Stone echoed that her experience in Muse Machine also connected her to an accepting community.

“[Muse Machine] is such a wonderful, welcoming environment and it’s so much fun and it’s good exercise; let’s be honest,” Stone said.  

According to Norgaard, transitioning to adulthood comes with a lot of changes and stressors that she believes theatre provides an invaluable way to cope and learn. She stresses the importance of being a part of an environment like the one that theatre provides, especially as a teenager.

“It’s a safe place to work through problems and find common ground with other people,” Norgaard said. “You also learn things like how to handle rejection and how to be disciplined and have a good work ethic and be a part of a community.”

To read Part I of this series click here

To read Part II click here