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Take a Bow

They filtered in each Saturday morning for 8 weeks. One participant would amble around the theatre and immediately walk on stage when Christina Hart, actress and facilitator, arrived, commenting on last week’s activities and what was in store for that day. Others sat quietly in the audience, eyes at half-mast. As soon as Christina signaled that it was time to begin, participants became actors and perked up, got on stage, and joined in for the next 2 hours for an amazing acting journey.

Volunteer peer role models served as invaluable participants and coaches throughout the 8-week period. They quickly blended in, became part of the acting troupe, developed relationships, and encouraged their fellow actors every step of the way.

Each workshop always began with warm-up activities—activities that made us all laugh, wake up our bodies, and get to know one another.  We stood in a circle and called out each other’s name; we mirrored each other’s facial and body movements in an interactive acting game; we tested our powers of concentration with a nonverbal memory game; and we marched to the beat of an emotion that was called out (i.e., “Furious!” and then “Joyful!”) by one of the actors. We strengthened our powers of creativity.

Warm-ups quickly moved into various skits and actors had to “stay in character” and listen and respond to others in revolving groups of four. Actors played animals in spontaneous scenarios, read body cues, and activities would slowly build and progress, until small scripts were introduced and participants paired up, practiced, and performed their scene. Small scripts taught actors how to interpret the language of a script, and these small scripts replaced larger scripts composed of short plays. One actor wrote his own script, cast the actors, directed, and starred in his own play. Teamwork emerged and the actors worked together and made each scene their own.

What was remarkable about the acting workshop was that the same goals targeted in social skills groups for children with developmental disabilities (i.e., conversation, nonverbal communication, peer interaction, listening skills, and team building) were all addressed through the acting workshop in a natural environment. The reward of learning was unnoticed and everyone benefited.

What’s next? Let’s do it again! We’re signing up interested actors for Inizio’s next workshop series. Interested parents and participants can contact Sally Torrens or Cara Stearns-Entz at 818.937.0882.

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