Did you know in the basement of the Children’s Theatre Company lives a bug? A bug that is invisible but extremely busy. It’s the Acting Bug, and it dwells in the basement of the Children’s Theatre Company. It latches onto any small or almost grown child that makes his or her way into its hideaway.
A handful of active onliners with their own websites were invited to check out the home of this enthusiastic bug–Theatre Arts Training–and experience a one-hour class with our children.
And oh, boy, did we have fun!
Upstairs, the CTC actors were putting the last minute touches on Shrek, so under their feet, the TAT was getting us in the William Steig mood. Who is William Steig? The author of Shrek! When we entered, many of Steig’s books were spread across the floor to read until the entire crew arrived.
It wasn’t long before Chris, our Training Arts teacher, got us moving. As we warmed up all the books were put away but one–Zabajaba Jungle. Chris read us the story, and she asked poignant questions about how we would feel or what we would do in the situation or what we would put in the story instead. And the cool thing was how she really took into account what the kids were saying and validating them! I was so impressed.
Chris asked, “What three things does a story have?”
And my brilliant daughter said, “A beginning, middle, and end.” I was so embarrased; that was not the answer she was looking for.
Chris gasped, “You are absolutely right! Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. So tell me about Zabajaba Jungle. What happened at the beginning?” I gave my mom, who I had invited to come with us, a sheepish look. My third grader had put me in my place. I sat there shamefaced as Chris walked the TAT Students-for-a-day through summarizing the story, and I missed most of it.
Once the story was summarized and changed up a little to fit the personalities in the room, Zabajaba Jungle was re-enacted in an extreme flair of the Acting Bug.
When the story had been relived by the actors as butterflies and monsters and the council and the mom and dad stuck in a glass jar in the jungle, there was one thing left to do.
Create beautiful butterfly puppets. With markers and stickers and glue and googly eyes and popsicle sticks.
I had a few tentative participants, but even while watching the others, they felt included. And those who were a little shy to participate in the acting, jumped into the puppet craft!At the TAT experience we shared, we had children as young as 2 and as old as 3rd and 4th grade and everyone who wanted to enjoy it did.
TAT holds classed for children in preschool all the through high school. This is an incredible program designed to mold the next generation of theatre professionals in a guided, dynamic, studio-style program that is tailored to the needs of each individual student. (I got that directly from their website) And it will bring out their creativity, too. In the summer, they hold one week or two week-long camps with classes throughout the rest of the year.
My children were infected with the Acting Bug as was their mama and grandma. We’ll be looking into their programs and scholarship availability this fall, I think.