Saturday morning classes began with nearly full enrollment at NBYT! (Because of a couple of late withdrawals, there’s one space remaining in both Act Your Age and Acting 101. Anyone who’d like to join for the second week—at a pro-rated cost—should call 860-515-8115.)
A few times during this Winter term, we’ll update the blog with a short rundown of what each class is doing. This is so parents of the students in the class will get the more details (because we parents all know that most kids aren’t all that great at answering “What did you do today?”) and so anyone thinking about classes for the next term will have some idea of what they involve.
Both classes began with introductions and a quick review of class rules: (1) Follow directions; (2) Listen (to teachers and others); (3) Raise your hand; (4) Be polite; (5) No touching or grabbing (people or things that aren’t yours); (6) Do your best; and (7) Have fun!
Also in both classes, we asked who’s seen a play before and who’s been in a play. We asked what different things go into making a play and got all the right answers: actors, directors, producers, costumes, sometimes music and dancing, backdrops and sets, lights, and props. We said that two of the most important things are the actors and the story. Actors, we learned, use two things when they’re playing a character: their bodies and their voices. At the beginning of each class from now on, we’re going to warm up our bodies and our voices.
Both classes also learned that every character in a play has a story. They learned that those stories can be developed by where characters live (settings), what they wear (costumes), what they hold or use (props), how they react and interact with other characters, the expressions on their faces, and of course the things they say and do. Each student created a “Character Story,” and was encouraged to use creative, descriptive words in their stories. The children also got “Picture Yourself on Stage” coloring pages to bring home to draw a character on stage. (These don’t have to be brought back, but hopefully were just a fun activity.)
Each student was asked to read or tell their character story to the group. Among the characters were princesses and pirates, cats and other animals, and a few young boys and girls. The students were asked how their characters might walk, talk, and show how they feel—all part of playing a character on stage. In the next few weeks, we’ll learn that every character in a play wants something, or (as you might have heard from actors) has a motivation.
The Acting 101 students were given a few Monologues for Girls to take home and were asked to choose one to work on. They don’t have to memorize an entire monologue, but should try to learn a few lines. We’ll ask for volunteers in the next class to perform some of their monologue; over the term, they’ll all rehearse and perform their monologs. Most important, the girls were told that there’s no wrong way to perform these—what is important is that they make some acting choices and do their best. The goal is to use strong, clear voices; make strong, clear movements; and make some character choices. Over the next few weeks, we’ll all learn from working on the monologues and other scenes. Scenes we choose will be based on folktales from around the world.
The Act Your Age students will also work on short scenes based on world folktales. The first will be The Rainbow Snake from Venezuela. This class will also improvise stories with simple costumes and props, and will have the chance to create a short play of their own.
Act Your Age is taught by NBYT Producing Director and Teaching Artist Darren Farrington. Acting 101 is co-taught by Darren and Nicki LaPorte, who is a recent graduate of Central Connecticut State University who studied Educational Theater. Anyone with questions about the classes or other NBYT programs can email Darren or call 860-515-8115.