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Children act up on stage

Students taking the Lincoln Theater Guild’s new drama classes are learning that working together makes for a great show.
“You contribute your part and your part makes the whole,” said Mary Williams, the class instructor to her students. “You could be a rock in the play, and you could be just as important as someone who has 50 gazillion lines.”
Josh Walston, an 11 year old student, nods knowingly.
“I was a tree once,” he said.
Many of the students attending the classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights lack experience, but have big dreams.
“It’s fun and challenging, and it pays in cash,” said Jake Bridges, a 12 year old student with movie star aspirations.
Casey Beam’s mother, Lorie Messer, wants to encourage her daughter’s interest in the entertainment field. Who knows, says Messer, some day she could be a model in New York City.
“I’m more or less doing this to get her started,” said Messer. “She’s got a knack for it.”
Casey likes to act because it gives her a chance to pretend to be somebody else and builds her confidence. She also doesn’t mind the attention.
“I like being in the spotlight,” she said.
Her instructor agrees.
“I like being a ham in front of everybody,” said Williams.
The class focuses on ensemble work, and Williams plans to make sure that each superstar gets a fair amount of stage time.
“To me, theater is not just a showcase of individuals on stage,” said Williams. “It’s a community.”
During the class students will have time to goof around and play improvisational games. They will also learn about the importance of speech inflection and body movement.
Some young actors already know where they want to put their focus.
“I like to be the bad guy,” said Jake. “The girls go for the bad guy.”
While most students mention the fun of disappearing into a character, some students feel that taking theater classes helps them be themselves.
During Thursday’s class students were mirroring each other while making funny faces and hopping up and down.
“I like acting because you can just be yourself around everybody,” said Dakota Brocato, a 14 year old student. “It doesn’t matter if you act stupid.”
Williams hopes the classes help students build confidence, something theater has done for her.
“It’s given me the tools to be more the person I want to be – more vocal and comfortable in social situations,” said Williams. “I hope my students will get the same thing I got out of it.”
The theater classes run for the next 10 weeks. Each class is an hour and a half. Younger students meet on Tuesday and older students meet on Thursday. Young actors who are interested still have time to sign up for the classes.
Previous acting experience or an immediate knack for the stage is unnecessary.
“It comes more natural to some people, but I think everyone has it,” said Williams.
For information about acting classes, call the Lincoln Theatre Guild at 704-735-2281.
by Sarah Grano

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