An actress has warned that parents need to be aware that there will be a price to pay if children are allowed to just live in a world of social networking and mobile phones.
Maeve Fitzgerald, 33, from Kilbarrack, northside Dublin, has cultivated an impressive stage career over the past 10 years playing Shakesperean heroines such as Ophelia in Hamlet and King Lear’s Cordelia.
The award-winning actress, who also played a role in Jim Sheridan’s recent offering The Secret Scripture, knows what it is to get lost in a world of imagination – and this is something she doesn’t with to see Irish children being deprived of.
Maeve feels areas like northside Dublin, in particular would benefit from seeing more drama introduced in to schools and across the community – and this is something all parents need to be aware of.
“We are living in a time particularly when we need to think how important this issue is. We have children hooked in to Whats App, Instagram, the world exists in a screen and no-one looks up,” the Irish Times Theatre Award Winner 2010 winner, said.
“We are naive to think that won’t have an impact on the imagination of our children. If we can get children to create stories in this safe world of imagination, as they go into adulthood it provides them with security and being themselves.”
Maeve said there was a shortage of acting classes in the northside, where she had counted only 10, compared to 16 on the southside of the city.
“We don’t have the resources this side of the city to explore the benefits of drama, including self-expression and confidence.
“From my point of view, acting provided me with so much when I was in my teens. I had to travel in to the city centre to go to a class but it was worth it.
“I was very shy and acting gave me confidence. People I know who teach drama say the benefits for children are clear.
“A young child might be too shy to say their name in front of people but acting helps them gain confidence.”
Northside Partnership (NP) works to improve the opportunities for people and communities in north east Dublin to bring about positive changes in their own lives and in the life of their community.
NP offers initiatives and services to support individuals, organisations, groups and communities across the northside, including in Dublin 3, 5, 13 and 17.
Maeve even feels that drama could help combat bullying because it teaches children to have fun in a relaxed environment.
And it is an activity, she feels, shouldn’t be viewed as expensive. “We need drama in our lives,” Maeve said.
“Parents, communities, need to talk to groups like the Northside Partnership, to schools, teachers, and politicians to try to get investment in children’s creativity.
“Drama has put Ireland on the world stage. We have so many talented actors, so it is important we carry this tradition on in all neighbourhoods. And it doesn’t have to break the bank.”
Maeve estimates a drama teacher could be hired for a reasonable price if a class of 30 children paid 3 euro each.
“Drama, going to plays, is so much more of an exciting activity for children. Take children to plays and introduce them to reading plays.
“Take a child to acting classes for an hour a week and watch as they ditch their phones for a while to delve in to their imaginations – that really isn’t something we want to lose.”