“My Voice Is Power!”

About twenty boys and girls stood in an rough semi-circle, facing their audience.  One by one in quick succession they called out, “My voice is power!” until the room was ringing with positive energy.  This was the ‘opening number’ of the first Young Actors’ Workshop showcase, when friends and family got a glimpse of what our children have been doing on Saturday mornings for the past two months.  In a new program sponsored by Bristol Parks & Recreation, these young theatre kids have been learning real-life acting techniques from respected working actor Elise Arsenault.  But even in this short workshop they’ve begun to learn much more.  Theatre skills build confidence, poise, and self-control; theatre work emphasizes collaboration, empathy, and creative self-expression; and young theatre groups like this provide a sense of belonging and excitement for kids who are willing and even (secretly) happy to wake up early on a Saturday morning and spend time with their peers in an aged and drafty auditorium that practically sings with memories.

After a few more warm-up exercises (they killed it with ‘Machine’) Saturday’s informal presentation moved on to performances of original skits, written and acted by smaller groups of the Young Actors.  “Five, four, three, two, one-and-SCENE!” shouted the kids, cueing each performance.  The skits were original, a little bit fresh, sarcastic, and possibly even twisted – in short, they were a look at life (and humor) from the perspective of our young tweens and teens, and clearly the kids were proud to present their original work.  Good theatre workshops like this one present an opportunity for kids to shine, to think, to stretch themselves and to appreciate their peers.  In this brief showcase of talent and hard work I felt an abundance of creativity, confidence, and an underlying respect for the young person’s voice – and the rest of the audience did too, judging by the hearty applause and wide smiles on every face.  My thanks to Elise Arsenault for sharing her passion and experience with our children, for holding them to high expectations, and for cultivating in them a respect for their own voices and for that of their peers.

And now, an exciting announcement: Bristol Parks & Recreation is proud to continue the Young Actors’ Workshop and offer new and exciting acting classes with Elise Arsenault this winter!  Details below; to register call Bristol Parks & Recreation at 253-1611.  For class-related questions, email Ms. Arsenault directly at elise.arsenault@gmail.com.

Musical Theatre Camp (during school vacation) $60 per student                             Monday, December 26th through Friday, December 30th, 10am ’til 1:30pm                       open to 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders                                                                                Daily classes in movement, singing and acting, culminating in final presentation on Friday the 30th at 1pm for friends & family.  There will be a brief lunch break every day; students must bring their own lunches.

Young Actors’ Workshops – Winter (January 17th through March 30th, 2012)

Acting/Scene Study for students in grades 6-8                                                                  Saturdays 10:45am-12:30pm; limited to 16 students; $100 per student                      Acting Workout for students in grades 3-5                                                                       Saturdays 8:30am-10:15am; limited to 16 students; $100 per student                              Creative Dramatics for students in grades K-2                                                                 Tuesdays 4:30pm-5:30pm; limited to 12 students; $75 per student

The final class in each session will culminate in an informal showcase for friends & family.  The Arts Room thanks Bristol Parks & Recreation and Elise Arsenault for offering our local children this marvelous program!

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