Act Out! Ashland Children’s Theatre Invites Rogue Valley Kids to the Stage
A primal aspect of childhood is “playing pretend” and Ashland Children’s Theatre (ACT) sets just the right stage for kids in the Rogue Valley to just do that. Whether a round of “Half the Time,” where three individuals act out the same scene over and over, each time being only given half the time as the previous. Or the “Yes, and …” exercise which teaches trust, confidence and support of your scene partner, not allowing for an idea to be rejected. Or even their upcoming spring double feature, The Tales of Anasi the Spider and The Improv Games: TeenProv Showdown on May 11 and 12. Regardless where each child’s imagination starts, one thing is for sure, it will grow by making and celebrating the mistakes along the way.
Providing an atmosphere where children can learn in a supportive environment is what Ashland Children’s Theatre strives to achieve, an essential aspect to figuring out who they are and how to express themselves.
Co-Director Eve Smyth explains, “They learn ethics, that an actor’s work is done at home, how to show up prepared and make your [scene] partner look good.”
They learn vital skills that will apply to other aspects of life such as listening and supporting one another. They build trust, form bonds and learn what mutual respect is. Ashland Children’s Theatre focuses on returning an elemental social interaction to kids, in a day and age where social media has taken over.
“The kids are allowed to come in, learn how to express themselves and find a family here,” Smyth adds.
ACT offers a variety of workshops for children ages 4 through 17, including performance and improv classes throughout the school year as well as camps during their summer season. Many of these classes will help prepare the students for performance level participation in future productions, however enrollment is not a requirement to be cast in a play with ACT.
Founded in 2017 by Kate Sullivan and Smyth, ACT was created for local kids and teens to find their voice. Having worked together for nearly 15 years, the way Smyth and Sullivan communicated by finishing one another’s thoughts, made it evident that the two are united in their passion and drive.
“We want to meet kids where they are and welcome them in to help them grow from there,” Sullivan stresses. They see a lot of growth especially on the occasions where a child is enrolled in their Make Believe Explorers Class at age 4 and continues to move through their Creative Improv Fun (7-10) and into the Teenprov Company as a teenager.
Not only are there opportunities for kids on stage, but also for them to learn about technical theater, including stage management, costuming, lighting and sound design. One of the basic principles in this self-proclaimed safe space is to celebrate mistakes, this foundation allows children to expand on their natural curiosity and learn how to stop holding back and really go for it. By practicing this, they can support their scene partner, connect with the audience and build self-confidence in an awe inspiring way.
The Tales of Anasi the Spider and The Improv Games: TeenProv Showdown
7 pm, Saturday, May 11
3 pm, Sunday, May 12
The Dance Space, 280 E. Hersey Street #10, Ashland
$5 – $10, advance. $6 – $12, door.