Inner West Independent

Kids acting out? Get them acting

Actors Lounge: Jack Wade, Velvet Sheridan, Manon Sheridan and Mia Brown. Photo: Chris Peken

If the kids are proving a handful these school holidays, it might be time to let them loose on the big stage.

While sports camps and beach trips are summer holiday staples, the inner west boasts a string of drama workshops for budding thespians and T.V. stars.

In Rozelle, the Actors Lounge will run two week-long workshops for 8-16 year olds. Drummoyne-based Shae Brewster, formerly the host of Saturday Disney, will conduct a workshop in television presentation, teaching kids how to work with a camera, conduct an interview and interact with a professional film set.

The second session, run by award-winning director Hannah Hilliard, will see the students plan and execute their own T.V. commercial, all the way from pitching the idea, casting the ad and directing the performance.

At the end of the workshops the kids receive a DVD recording of their performance. Actors Lounge managing director Jules Tyler says parents are usually blown away by the quality, and by their kids’ abilities.

“A lot of them are surprised by the performances of their children,” she said. “We try to seek out their best qualities and make them look their best.”

One of the school’s outstanding success stories, Jack Wade, started attending classes when he was just five. Now 12, he has been the voice of the Nickelodeon channel, has four television commercials under his belt and does regular voiceover work.

Even for those who don’t pursue acting careers, Ms Tyler says the workshops are enduringly valuable.

“I think it helps them get to know themselves, build their confidence and helps them with their social skills and claiming their place in an adult world,” she said.

“It’s hard work as well. This process is a team process; it’s not just about the actor.”

The skills of acting, such as understanding emotion and the ability to empathise with a character, are particularly important for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Aspire runs a series of early intervention programs which for the first time will include a holiday theatre workshop called “Drama!” The program is being designed and run by Glebe-based drama teacher Tara King from January 6-9 in Wentworth Point near Rhodes.

“Empathy is one thing that I find children develop very frequently from doing drama because they’re constantly feeling what it’s like to be somebody else,” Ms King said.

“How does someone who’s angry look? How does someone who’s angry use their body?”

Ms King, who has run workshops for ADS children previously, said she likes to ask her students to discuss the emotions and behaviour of the characters being enacted.

“The discourse that happens in a drama course is so valuable.”

Ms King said she has seen enduring friendships and even marriages blossom from her previous workshops.

“Children with spectrum disorder have so much trouble making friends and when you put them in an environment where they’re being creative and having so much fun, they bond with each other. It always happens.”

Kaylene Squires, whose daughter Gabrielle was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome last year, has eagerly signed up.

“It’s a chance for [Gabrielle] to start developing little friendships without fearing her confidence will be knocked,” Ms Squires said.

“It’s exciting to find an appropriate channel for Gabi to express her more dramatic side.”

Ms King said some parents should expect their kids to catch the theatre bug as a result.

“It could be the beginning of something big for their children.”

Related Posts