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The young actors fidgeted with nervous energy and waited impatiently for their cues, ready to take the stage. Lines had been memorized, the set, was decorated, and props made. The excitement of opening night was in the air Thursday night at the little Theatre as a new generation of actors took center stage for the first of two performances of Stone Soup.
Over the past two weeks 20 novice thespians, ages 8-12, have learned the craft of theater at the summer drama camp. The annual camp is a partnership between the Little Theatre and Storybook Theater of the Sands Theater Center in DeLand.
The camp participants were Morgan Salerno, Charles Exum, Katie Turner, Kaitlin Djuren, Zoee Neyland, SavannahWosenske, Brittney Johnston, Jake MacMurdo, Jonah Powers, Michelle Henning, Deirde Love; Timp Crandall, Shannon Heil, Julia Kerti, Meggan Brockman, Gabrielle Chapin, Laura Henning, Sierra Ledgerwood, Allixandria Lehnig, and Alex Remillard.
Camp instructor LaVerda Felton, who has a degree in children's theater education, taught the camp last summer and several students returned this year. She also directed last year's Christmas show at the Little Theatre. Her many years of experience teaching children was evident as she expertly guided them not only in the art of theater, but helped build self esteem, discipline, and teamwork.
In 10 activity-packed days the students learned how a production is staged, from opening the script to performance. Classes included how to audition for a part, casting, character development, theater etiquette, the technique of applying makeup for the stage, and many rehearsals, with a final dress rehearsal before opening.
Blank flats soon came to life as the students decorated the set by painting stone work, trees and flowers. Props such as stones and colorful crepe paper flowers were made.
Lines were learned, in only 10 days. "Memorization of lines is never a problem," Miss LaVerta (as the students call her) said. "All kids are quick studies." Techniques for clear speech, enunciation, diction and projection of voices for the stage were learned.
Stone Soup is a French play about Napoleon's hungry soldiers entering a village in search of food. So accents and a bit of French language and history were taught. The play dea1s with overcoming suspicion, sharing.. friendship, and imagination, as soup is created from rocks and shared by all.
When asked how she keeps the attention of the students, Miss LaVerta described her freeze/focus/go technique. She said, "When I tell them freeze, they immediately stop all movement and talking focus means listen to what I am saying - and go is action." She uses this, technique throughout the classes.
Along with the hard work there was time for plenty of fun and games. Special days were a Day in the Tropics where students in tropical attire and, "Red White and Blue Day" where they dressed with a patriotic theme.
To help students overcome the fear of performing, a talent show was held where each student demonstrated their special talent. Some played the piano, sang, or recited poems. Others performed a magic act or danced.
After the opening night performance, the applause and bouquets of flowers from an enthusiastic audience of parents, relatives and friends brought broad smiles to the young faces. All the students agreed they had a great time at camp and all the hard work was worth it as they graciously took their bows.
The Little Theatre will begin renovation this summer and with the additional classroom and rehearsal hall, the children's theatre program will be expanded with after school programs and several summer camps next year.
Please call 423-1246 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on when the theatre will reopen in 2005.