From playground to stage
The Actory’s summer theater classes make thespians out of kindergarteners
There’s one in every family: the show-off. The performer. The kid who can’t sit still or be quiet. The kid who stages elaborate musicals with Barbie dolls and action figures.
This summer, instead of putting costumes on your household’s cranky cat, your child could be channeling those creative energies into something structured and still have a lot of fun. The Actory Theatre Arts Centre offers theater classes for children all summer, beginning June 11 and ending Aug. 24.
The Actory was founded in 1995 by husband-and-wife duo Paul Kiser and Saralinda Seibert, who met during a production in Denver and who both taught at an acting academy there. When they moved back to Reno—Seibert’s hometown—they decided to model their own theater company after the one in Denver.
“The arts were ready for some more theater,” Seibert said. “Things were really growing at that time.”
Kiser and Seibert’s dream has grown into not only a reputable theater company but arguably the most extensive theater instruction program in the Truckee Meadows.
“We think this is an integral part of our programming,” Seibert said. “We’re also supplementing what’s available through the schools. Some of the schools have really great theater programs, but others don’t have any program at all.”
But be warned, stage moms: “We’re not in the business of making little stars,” Seibert said. “Our goal is to introduce students to the theatrical arts … to make theater a part of their lives.”
This process can begin as early as age 4 at the Actory, with workshops like “Swinging on a Star,” June 11-15, and “Animal Capers,” July 2-6. Seibert said these workshops, for kids age 4-6, cause normally shy, reserved children to really play it up for the crowd.
“Those kids constantly amaze me,” she said. “At the end of the week, suddenly there they will be in full glory … they are hams!”
Workshops for the younger kids are structured, but relaxed, Seibert said. They involve music and movement and often revolve around stories and characters that are familiar to the children, like Winnie the Pooh.
For older children, ages 9 and up, the Actory offers a certificate program that comprises three “Skillshops,” which Seibert described as the “meat and potatoes” of acting. In these Skillshops, a young actor will learn theater vocabulary, ethics, techniques and a little history. After completing all three, Seibert said, a child would have “a foundation for what an actor needs to succeed.”
Production workshops are two weeks long and culminate in an actual performance. This summer, the Actory will offer two of these production workshops: Under the Ghost Lights (A Musical), June 18-22 and 25-29, and The N Files, Aug. 6-10 and 13-17. These two-week workshops cost $225, while the one-week workshops cost $100.
Seibert said the class size averages between eight and 25 students, and enrollment is higher in the summer than in the Actory’s winter and spring sessions. The Actory also offers after-school programs during the traditional school year.
But whether your child is the next Laurence Olivier or just wants to have a good time this summer, the Actory’s got you covered. Seibert stressed that the most important thing about the classes are the fun factor.
“We really have a blast."