By Misty DUPLESSIS
For eight years the CV High School Theater program has offered local youths the opportunity to see what theater is all about through the Falcon Outreach Program. The course is designed for first through eighth grade students and is held in the high school’s auditorium.
The classes run for just under three hours each Saturday for 12 consecutive weeks. For many of these students it is the first experience they have with a drama program.
Classes are hosted by the school’s own theater students who volunteer their time and experience to help the younger kids get valuable exposure to the arts. Even the adult directors give their time in order to keep the tuition fees low.
Among the adults overseeing the program are a professional actor who teaches students about stage combat, a North Hollywood theater owner who helps guide students through scene development, a marionette master, a skilled make-up artist and GUSD teachers Brent Beerman and Kathi Chaplar.
During the first half of the day students are separated into age appropriate groups and participate in a variety of exercises and games to build up their energy. Each week the student volunteers are given a curriculum to follow which focuses on one aspect of drama. One week the young performers learned all the ins and outs of a scene. The following week was designed to teach them about conflict and how it relates to theater and translates to their personal lives.
Beerman said teaching students through acting out rather than just reading from a book helps them get a better understanding the material.
“Getting up and performing choices are much better than just reading about it,” said Beerman of teaching students the conflict-themed lesson.
Since the younger ages may have a hard time reading, first and second graders are encouraged to learn by using props. During an exercise the little ones wore different hats to demonstrate various roles and create characters.
Older students got a chance to play with lights and other stage equipment for a truly hands on training. Many of the students will attend their first play, complete with a full orchestra, on Feb. 25 for CV’s production of “My Fair Lady.”
Beerman stressed how important it is to introduce theater to young children. With this class many of these kids develop a love for theater. The training also helps students feel more comfortable in different settings and many of them will learn to develop the ability to hear constructive criticism, which helps them in their daily lives.
In the beginning of May the various groups will have a chance at demonstrating how they connected to the lessons with showcase performances.
Although classes have already begun Beerman said it is not too late to sign up and feels that even one day in the workshop is an experience that students will gain from.
For more information on the program and upcoming events visit falcontheater.org.