Natchez Little Theatre hosts workshop for young actors
Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 30, 2014
By Olivia Mcclure
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — Professional actors may spend months rehearsing a play to ensure the performance is perfect. The Natchez Little Theatre had a different goal in mind, however, for its workshop on Monday — give children something fun to do, and give their parents a free day during the holidays.
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There is still an important benefit, though. The workshop can spark children’s interest in acting, which is a good way to teach them to be comfortable in front of people, said Natchez Little Theatre Board of Directors member Leigh Anne Mason.
That is one of the most important lessons some of the 16 children who participated said they learned.
Abbie Dill, 10, and Carolyne Heatherly, 12, both of Natchez, have attended NLT workshops before, but agreed they learned more about self-confidence Monday.
“Be yourself and do your best,” Dill said.
Dill started acting nearly three years ago after seeing plays at the Little Theatre. She was nervous on stage as a beginner, but has overcome her fears and now “It just comes to me,” she said.
Her favorite part of the workshop was singing.
Heatherly, who has been acting most of her life and whose family is involved in theater, said the workshop was fun. She said she enjoys any chance to polish her skills.
Led by teachers with theater experience, the students developed skits in the style of variety TV shows, from Disney Channel sitcom “Sonny with a Chance” to the retro, country music-heavy “Hee Haw.” Students also practiced two songs — “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” and “The 12 Days of Sickmas.”
In one skit, titled “The Invisible Bench,” a few students sit on a pretend bus stop bench. Passersby ask what they’re doing, and eventually, someone moves the bench and everyone falls to the ground.
Olivia Estes, 13, said she and her classmates also did warmup exercises and improvisation games. She and her 11-year-old sister, Katherine, are from Oxford and were in town visiting their grandparents.
Olivia and Katherine have had parts in school plays before, but said they enjoyed meeting and working with new people at the workshop. Katherine said she likes theater because she gets to “be with everyone, and there’s no reason to be nervous.”
Theater, much like team sports, can teach children a lot about working together, Mason said.
“There’s a team concept in theater, too,” she said. “If one person slips up, their partner can help guide them back.”
This is the first year the Little Theatre has hosted a winter workshop. It gives students a taste of what they would experience at the month-long summer workshop, which the theatre has conducted for 10 years, Mason said.
While participants in the summer workshop prepare for a performance of an entire musical, Monday’s workshop focused on short skits that the children performed that night for their parents.
Fees for the workshop and performance also help the nonprofit theater raise money, Mason said.