‘Learning how to be an actor’

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Campers sit in a circle and take turns gazing at a smallmirror.

With each holder, the mirror represents something different, anew object altogether, such as a ray gun or a flower, or a newemotion – love, joy, hate. The children are asked to convey actionsor feelings through their movements and facial expressions.

The activity is just one of many ways the 35 campers will belearning about the theater over the next two weeks during theBrookhaven Little Theatre’s Summer Workshop. The morning camp, forstudents in first through sixth grades, began Monday at the Havenon West Cherokee Street and continues through July 29.

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Organizers had been aiming for 50 campers, but instructor anddirector Jana Russell said she was more than pleased with the levelof participation.

“That’s fabulous,” Russell said. “I’m very excited.”

While students could choose to attend only for one week, Russellsaid most signed up for the full two-week program. The two-weekcamp costs $100 per participant.

The summer workshop will culminate with two performances of”Robinson – History of an Unusual Cat,” written by Walter Andersonand adapted for stage by Mary Anderson Pickard. The performancesare scheduled July 28-29 at the Haven.

“We are not just doing a play. We are learning how to be anactor,” Russell said.

With activities like Monday’s, Russell said she is encouragingcampers to approach acting using the five senses of touch, taste,feel, seeing and hearing. Also in the acting mix are the five W’s:who, what, where, when, and why.

“Building on those 10 things is what makes a believablecharacter,” Russell said.

The campers’ experiences, though, will not be limited to justthe stage.

“The kids are doing all stages of this,” Russell said,mentioning set design, props, costumes, makeup and other aspects ofa production.

The camp is the first fund-raiser as part of the Save The Havencampaign. The campaign is looking to raise money to repair theHaven’s roof, upgrade its interior and improve other parts of thehistoric building.

With the help of Carole Bennett, Jan Kincade, student counselorswho are supervising the campers and other volunteers, Russell saidthe event is off to a great start.

“This is coming together,” Russell said. “People are jumping inand helping.”

Russell gave special credit to Emily Henderson and JoAnnaSproles for helping to publicize, organize and registerparticipants.

“This is something I’ve been talking about for years,” Russellsaid of the workshop. “JoAnna and Emily got involved and they ranwith it.”

Russell said the first year is a learning one for organizers.She hopes it will grow in the future.

“My vision is I want to build this into something we can doevery year,” Russell said.

Russell said she would like to see either additional summertheater camps or drama clubs, which could be held more often. Also,she mentioned the possibility of establishing a yearly musical forall age groups.

Events like the camp will help raise funds to preserve the Havenbuilding as well as grow membership and participation in BLTactivities in the future.

“As a theater, we have to get more of our young peopleinvolved,” Russell said. “That’s what this is for.”