Article by L’Albero
To investigate if entrepreneurial skills and theatre education have effectively something in common, the theatrical company L’Albero has interviewed one of the students of its theatrical school “La scuola sull’Albero”.
Americo Palermo is 35 years old. He’s been working for 7 years in a company that operates in the wholesale trade of electronic products. Since he was 9 years old, he put a theatre education alongside his academic studies (scientific high school, and degree in Business Economics at LUISS University in Rome). This passion and discipline (the theatre) began when he was a child and it is still ongoing. “Because the theatre” – Americo said – “is able to accompany you – literally – in each phase of your life and the desire and the excitement of going on stage turns into a self-development path.”
At the beginning of our talk, the first thing that he tells us is that when you enter the labour market it seems that everything you studied at the University doesn’t have much to do with the practice. Obviously, later you find out that it is not true, but there is a missing piece.
As when you play football: you train hard but then the match is a different story. “There!” Americo said to us “the theatre represents the workout necessary for the development of all those essential job skills that the University doesn’t develop, gaining a lot of experiences with a lot of different people and in a lot of different situations.”
According to Americo the most important transversal competences that the theatre is able to develop are: problem solving, communication skills, and self-confidence. And he has an explanation for all of these.
Regarding problem solving, Americo says: “In my work (and I think it is valid for each work) the most important skill is the ability to think fast and be reactive: the problems to solve are a daily occurence. No school trains you to handle unexpected events. The theatre does it. The theatre taught me to keep calm and manage the unexpected with clarity of mind.
But the theatre can develop social skills too. “Knowing how to communicate, how to understand the people with whom you work and how to handle them in difficult times” Americo says “is essential at work. Often, during a critical situation, there is a lot of tension. Some colleagues become anxious: the emotional component within the team is intense and it should be handled carefully. In this sense, thanks to the theatre, I can say I have learned to work in a team and handle the stress very well.”
And finally self-confidence: “When you are on the stage you should be aware. According to me, self-confidence doesn’t mean thinking you are the best, the most clever, the most talented, but being aware and confident about what you can do and about your contribution to the team. This is the self-confidence that I learnt thanks to my theatre education”
But Americo has something else to tell us: “Furthermore, I think it’s important to be curious, and open-minded. This trait is usually underestimated in professional training, too focused on specific and technical competences and knowledge.
Instead the theatre, being a social activity that cannot prescind from the encounter with the other, taught me to be open to the others point of views and to the most disparate interests and passions. It also taught me to seek the solutions less obvious and to use divergent thinking. The world changes fast and today’s work demands the ability to learn new things in the time of a click. The theatre teaches me how to observe and how to link together elements that come from different spheres. Isn’t this perhaps the beginning of innovation?”