Act better: Summer classes improve form

As the temperatures warm up a bit and the end of the academic year looms on the horizon, planning activities for the fast-approaching summer may be on your to-do list. If you have youngsters in the house who have even the slightest penchant for drama, you’ll want to know about all that the education folks at Live Arts have been up to. Jennifer Peart, the education director for the company, reports that this year’s line-up of workshops will be bigger and better than ever.
Thespians ages 8 to 13 can prep for the summer offerings by enrolling in the weekly sessions of “Making the World: Storytelling and Drama” running on Thursday afternoons beginning April 24. Andrea Rowland teaches the course that invites the students to explore great old stories and experiment with basic theatrical elements of sound, movement, and ensemble as they give these stories expression. “A student story showcase will be featured at the end of the course,” she promises.
Teen actors have a chance to get a jump on their training as well with Amanda McRaven’s course, “Acting Study,” taught on Tuesday afternoons beginning April 22. Designed for the serious acting student, this workshop focuses on actors’ vocal production and physical movement, skills that will then be put to practical use in work with monologues.
Through two or three different monologues, students will explore language, character, and physicality and leave class with monologues that can be used for auditioning for local plays as well as college productions.
The annual Summer Theater Institute, which runs for three weeks, beginning in late June after schools are out for summer break, features a session on comic forms, puppetry, masks, improvisation, clowning ,and acrobats; a Shakespeare intensive that includes a trip to Shenandoah Shakespeare Youth Company in Staunton to perform, to attend more workshops, and to see a Shakespearean production at the Blackfriars Playhouse; and a repeat workshop from last summer musical theater.
This session provides training in singing, acting, dancing, musical choreography, and improvisation. The week-long experience concludes with a public musical performance in the Live Arts Summer Theater Festival.
If last year’s success is any indication, Peart expects the Summer Theater Institute to be a big hit. "It runs so smoothly," she says. "The teachers are great, and the kids really come to learn about theater. We have a great time.”
Class rosters fill quickly, so mark your calendars now for the early in-person registration on Friday, May 2, and Saturday May 3. “You can phone in your registration after May 3,” Peart explains, “but we can’t guarantee that we will still have spots open.”

All of the workshop sessions will be held at Live Arts, 609 E. Market St. Call for information about dates and prices; they vary by course. 977-4177, ext. 100.

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