The term ‘performing arts’ clearly describes creative activities performed in front of an audience. However, as I have found over the last year, taking part in performing-arts activities without the actual performance has its own rewards.

In January of this year I began meeting local performers and employing them to share their crafts with everyday Oxford folk who are not performers. The professional singers, dancers and actors have challenged themselves by adapting their teaching methods to meet the needs of people who do not necessarily wish to perform in front of an audience, but nevertheless are completely receptive to the processes, and keen to keep learning and experimenting.

My intention was simply to do a bit of acting and singing, but I have since learned that there is much more to be gained from ‘dabbling’ in performing arts. Participants tell me that they continue to come to the classes for many and varied reasons: some take part to boost their confidence and increase self-esteem; some want to push themselves to learn something new, and experience an immense sense of achievement when they realize their potential is greater than they once thought; a few of the ‘students’ speak English as a second language, and can practise and improve their language skills with pressure-free drama exercises; while others are keen to tap in to an inner creativity.

On top of the above, the sessions are great for relieving stress and making new friends.

When I decided to start the classes, none of these fabulous benefits had been on my radar, so the sessions have taught me as much as they have taught the ‘students’.

You may already enjoy performing with community choirs or drama groups, in which case the classes will complement those pastimes, but there is one final, and most important aspect that benefits everyone, especially those who do not have an acting background, nor a desire to perform in the future: the sessions offer the unique experience of taking part for the sole reason of taking part. With no extra agenda, the time spent in the studio is purely for the enjoyment of the participant, and for those two hours a week, the outside world may as well not exist.

So if you think that taking a performing-arts class simply sounds like a fun thing to do, you’d be absolutely right.