I just watched the season premiere of NBC's new show "Rise." "Rise" follows high school teacher Lou Mazzucchelli (played by Josh Radnor from "How I Met Your Mother") as he takes over the theater department and tries to build up the program. So much happened in the pilot episode alone! I'm intrigued to see where the show goes. I'm not sure yet how realistically the show portrays a high school theater department, but it got me considering again how vital theatre is to our society and what it can do for our communities.

1. Theater welcomes unique people

The Greatest Showman

People have a want and need to belong. Theatre gives people a safe space in which they feel cared for.

2. Theater provides a safe space to explore controversial issues

Spring Awakening

There are musicals that contain content related to suicide, abortion, adultery, crime, and even Mormon missionaries attempting to convert people. No topic is off limits, and it provides the audience a unique perspective on the topic. No actor telling the story should be physically hurt. These topics can be considered in the hearts and minds of audience members and actors. Each audience member's emotional interaction with the content is intimate.

3. Theater inspires conversation and critical thinking

Leslie Odom, Jr.

Theater provides an opportunity to take yourself out of your own life and consider what it would be like to be in another person's situation while they are literally right in front of you! When considering difficult topics, audience members and actors can discuss the meaning and multiple perspectives that arise. Powerful performances and stories stay with you after you've seen them on stage. I think the best shows make us critically think about the way we interact with people and what kind of impact we're making on the world.

4. Theater teaches the value of hard work, commitment, and dedication

Dear Evan Hansen Tony Win

It takes so much to put on an entire show. Being a part of it opens your eyes to see a whole community come together and see a project through.

5. Theater gives us more beautiful and inspiring stories to love all the time

Audra McDonald

There are so many musicals that I've come to love and adore. The best part is that the more great stories there are, the more creativity will spark, and the great stories will continue to flow. I have a feeling there are more untold stories just waiting to be written down and said out loud.

6. Theater allows people to be expressive

Eponine

Theater gets your energy going and welcomes emotional expression. Sometimes an emotional outlet is needed. As an actor, it's nice to play roles that allow you to experience a range of emotions that you don't always feel comfortable expressing. For audience members, it's nice that they can do that from afar.

7. Theater provides a space to create lifelong friendships and relationships.

Hamilton

I've met exceptional, genuine people through participating in the theater who just love to tell stories. Seeing theater with my own squad is also one of my favorite bonding experiences

There's nothing that beats the magic of a live performance being able to transport you to another time and space. Beyond that, the theater is empowering- it requires a certain level of fearlessness. When a message or story gets told to an audience, that fearlessness pays off and hopefully encourages people to go change the world #artwillsaveusall.