I teach theatre.
Because I teach theatre, I also teach a fair bit of psychology and sociology.
Because I teach a fair bit of psychology and sociology, I also teach a little bit about evolution.
Why, you ask?
Because it’s useful to know, as an actor, not only that a quick movement is more likely to draw the audience’s attention than a slow one, but to internalize the reason why (because we evolved, as all predators do, to zero in on movement). Or why the audience’s attention naturally shifts to the actor closest to them (because the person closest to you is the one who poses you the greatest threat — so it’s best to keep your eye on them). Or why it’s so important to use the body when telling stories (because we understood pantomime and gesture long before we developed language). Or any number of other curiosities of the brain.
And two things occur to me, every time I go down this road of teaching evolution in a theatre class:
- I am very likely teaching these students more about evolution than some science teachers ever will.
- There are almost certainly students sitting in my seats rolling their eyes because they have been indoctrinated to believe evolution is not real.
Both of which are pretty shocking. But because 1) is true, I think it’s vitally important that the kids hear it from somewhere. And because 2) is true, it’s important to expose kids to voices that don’t agree with them.
Plus, I just love to get on their nerves.
“Wait, I thought this is theatre — why’s he on about evolution?”
Because my job is to teach the whole child, kid.