Saturday, July 4, 2009

Canajoharie- Fort Plain Drama Club- "Peter Pan"

Taking notes from the house.

Observing a scene

The Pirates!

Giving notes on the relationship between your character and your physicality.

Immediately after the Miss NY Pageant, I spent a few days at my mom's house in Fort Plain, NY before heading back down to Brooklyn. While there, I was thrilled to be invited to do an impromptu acting workshop with the cast of Peter Pan, currently being produced by the Canajoharie- Fort Plain Drama Club in the beautiful Arkell Performing Arts Center (special thanks to Shawn Barnes, director of Peter Pan). Any opportunity to work with kids and theatre is my idea of a good time, but this visit had special meaning because the C-FP Drama Club is where my life changing involvement in theatre began.

Finding refuge in the theatre while growing up with considerable financial hardships in this economically depressed area inspired me to use theatre as a tool for social change, impacting both the cast and the audience. Acting Out (the no-cost performing arts program I developed) focuses mostly on using theatre as a means to obtain personal growth, development, emotional release and empathy- I've developed it to be process driven (a mainstage production, or product, is secondary). This is not to say that production based programs have no benefits, and I was thrilled to speak with the cast about the fundamentals of good acting!
The kids were awesome. Their natural ability to accept imaginary circumstances and react realistically never ceases to amaze me. There are, of course, common traps that nearly every high school or community theatre production falls into, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to point out, both from the perspective of a professional actor and an audience member, what these issues were, and how to fix them.
Unfortunately, arts are quickly cut from schools and communities when finances are tight, so the idea of being an artist for a living was all but unheard of when I graduated from high school. If nothing else, my visit was worth it solely to see the looks on the faces of these young actors when I introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Keelie. I'm a professional actress who now lives in NYC, and I got my start here."