Drama workshop offers basic skills for children’s theater | SteamboatToday.com

Drama workshop offers basic skills for children’s theater

Margaret Hair

Gathered in a small circle of students on the Steamboat Springs Middle School stage, Maggie Carrigan pulls an invisible ladybug out of the invisible box sitting in front of her. She lets it crawl across her fingers then tosses it into the air to fly away.

This, explained children’s theater teacher Rusty de Lucia, is acting.

“The whole idea is not to tell us, but to use your body to communicate what it is,” de Lucia said about the improvised exercise, which teaches students to act out spontaneous thoughts. The exercise is one of many covered in de Lucia’s two-week children’s theater workshop presented by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

Classes start Monday and run from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday for two weeks. Enrollment caps at 15 students and is limited to fifth- and sixth-graders.

The classes – which during eight after-school sessions will cover general stage directions, pantomime skills, creative thinking and voice projection – will serve as a pilot program for a larger children’s theater program, said workshop organizer Paula Salky.

“I think the children’s theater will encompass so much more, but we have to start small and take baby steps, because we want to do it right,” Salky said. If there is enough interest in de Lucia’s workshops, Salky and other organizers will look into expanding the age range and incorporating musical theater.

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De Lucia, who started teaching acting to children at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in 1958, said the classes will focus on helping students feel natural on stage. She hopes the classes also will foster a passion for acting in front of an audience.

“My hope is that they will want to come back for more and be in a production, or that they’ll want to come back for more and be on stage,” she said.

At $2 per class, the acting workshops are a way for children to get exposure to extracurricular arts instruction, Salky said, explaining the benefits she has seen for students who participate in the arts.

“I think the element of acting teaches you so much about being confident and being sure of yourself and working with others,” she said. “And I think that’s a dynamic that’s missing in our community.”