Children’s theater program in gear

Register/Richard Luken
Above from left, Caden and Rylee Knavel strike a pose similar to characters in the television show “Charlie’s Angels” as part of the Children’s Summer Theater Workshop this morning. At right, Jasmine Bannister hoists Katie Bauer in an improvised scene as two clowns preparing for a trick, one of the CSTW exercises.

Groups of elementary and middle school students began dusting off their acting chops and dialing up their collective imaginations this week.
The students are participants in the annual Children’s Summer Theater Workshop, funded through the Sleeper Family Trust.
Directed by Tara Gray, CSTW teaches the young thespians the basic elements of acting and improvisation.
The two-week session will be capped June 27 with a public performance at the Iola Community Theatre Warehouse.
“It’s gone very well,” said Gray, CSTW director. Gray replaces Susan Raines at the helm this year.
Gray taught vocal music at Lincoln Elementary School and has performed in the past in ICT productions. Next fall she will teach in Ottawa public schools.
The classes are divided into two age groups, one for elementary school students; the other for middle-schoolers.
Today’s lessons focused on improvisation and displaying emotions.
One such exercise had the youngsters take to the stage in an emotional state — rage or sorrow, for instance — before encountering a scene in which they needed to find an opposite emotion.
“We get a bit more advanced with the older students, most of whom have been here before,” Gray said.
Assisting Gray are a number of student aides, Jasmine Bannister, Mack and Marah Melvin, Bryan Miller, Paige Schauf, Maggie Wilson and Hallie Wolf.
“My helpers have been great,” Gray said. “They called and asked beforehand whether they could take part. Two of them are volunteering their time because they have so much fun.”
The June 27 showcase will feature an assortment of improvised skits as well as a pair of longer plays, one for each age group.
The longer plays are developed from ideas from the youngsters themselves. The student assistants put the script together.