2008 Theatre for youth to start August 4 in Westwood Park
Those who participate in the program will give a performance for parents, family, friends and community members at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Aug. 17, at Westwood Park.
“Each year we try to do the program differently because the kids really like to be doing different things. We try to come up with new things they have not done before,” said Gail Brown, one of the Theatre for Youth program coordinators.
Staci Hammontree, another coordinator, meets with Brown and they brainstorm ideas each year. This summer the two decided to create a gypsy camp and teach children tricks, storytelling and other acts that visitors would see if they came to visit traveling gypsies. During the Sunday performance the audience will enter a camp of gypsy wagons encircling a campfire to be entertained by girls playing tambourines, snake charmers, singers, fortune tellers, and magic and money tricks.
On the first evening of the program children will be introduced to the theatre format and shown the various performance choices. The second evening they will pick the activities in which to participate and on Wednesday evening they will create their costumes. The next two evenings the cast and crew will map out the stage area and create a list of props so the second week can be dedicated to learning acts and preparing for the performance.
All children are welcome to attend Theatre for Youth and frequently parents will bring children from neighboring communities to participate. Brown said theatre builds confidence in children, improves speaking ability and helps them overcome shyness. There are some participants that have been performing since the beginning and these older students now provide artistic input and help teach.
Theatre for Youth is in its ninth season. It was launched the summer of 2000 with the play “Jack and the Giant.” The next year the children did “Cinderella,” in 2002 “Hansel and Gretel” and “The Elves and the Shoemaker” were produced and The Piper, an adaptation of the story of the Pied Piper, was performed in 2003.
Children wrote skits in 2004 that were delivered as puppet shows and they pantomimed songs from CDs. In 2005 a new medium, reader’s theatre, was introduced. In 2006 children were divided into acting groups and given a Greek Myth to perform. Each group worked together to determine how best to deliver the myth to an audience, whether pantomime, with puppets, narration or straight acting.
The theme last year was “Westwood’s Got Talent,” prompted by a variety of reality TV shows including America’s Got Talent and American Idol.
The Westwood Community Theatre Company runs the summer program with the help of volunteers, donated product and/or financial support from businesses, individuals and organizations. Brown and Hammontree will be assisted in their instruction by two other Theatre Company members, Edie Aparton and Annie Bower. Community members who would like to support Theatre for Youth can donate a snack for an evening, such as sliced watermelon or cupcakes.
Each evening starts with a game before children begin their lessons in theatre. During the evening’s activities they are given a snack. After the final performance the participants are treated to a pizza and ice cream party. They also receive a 2008 Theatre for Youth T-shirt.
For more information on 2008 Theatre for Youth call Brown at 256-2378.
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