February 24, 2017

Junior Players Classes At Henry Fonda Theatre Academy

Kids can be so dramatic, right? My preschooler loves the spotlight, and earlier this week I told you about her experience in Creative Drama, the class for children ages 4 to 6 in the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse. Today, I’m writing about my son’s experience in Junior Players, the Academy’s class for children ages 7 to 10. 

Henry Fond Theatre Academy Logo

My son is definitely creative and is enthralled by live theater, but he is not hungry for the spotlight like his little sister. He had a different experience from her. I’m so happy both got to get a taste of theater thanks to Omaha Community Playhouse, whose education department invited my kids to attend Academy classes complimentary so that I can tell you about them.

What is Junior Players 

Theatre class for 7 to 10 year olds at Omaha Community Playhouse
Farley, center and trying not to smile, in a supporting role for a scene his group presented to parents the Junior Players’ “share” day.

Junior Players is a six-week session for children ages 7 to 10. The motto of the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy is “Life skills through stage skills.”

Like all classes in the Academy, children learn about the tools of the actor: Mind, body and voice. They learn ways to manipulate each of those areas with the long-term goal of developing stronger interpersonal communication skills.

The sessions for Junior Players build upon each other. In the fall, they do an American Sign Language integrated session, where body language and physicality of character development (as well as sign language) are the focus. In the winter, they do character work. In the spring, they add text-based scripts.

Junior Players sessions are developed to stand alone. Farley wasn’t in the fall session and he was able to jump into the character development session without issue.

For these past six weeks, each of his hour-long classes were divided in half, where the first 30 minutes are exercises to warm up the three actor tools. Then they do improv games and work on the backstory of their characters. 

What parents should know

Junior Players theatre class at Omaha Community Playhouse's Henry Fonda Theatre Academy
The Junior Players’ teacher, Rachel (far right), explains what students learned over the course of six weeks while the first group of Junior Players gets ready to present a scene they wrote.

Like other classes at the Academy, parents are not allowed to attend any of the classes. This, no doubt, was a relief to my son who can be so easily distracted. Parents did get to attend a share session during the last class, where we watched some of their favorite warm ups and improv games featuring their created characters.

The share session allowed me to see how his teacher, Rachel, was with the students, plus see how young actors with different levels of comfort in the spotlight were able to participate fully.

How to register for Junior Players

Junior Players Henry Fonda Theatre Academy wall of art

The next session of Creative Drama begins the week of April 3 and registration is already open! You can register your child for the spring session here (and if you’re a plan-ahead kind of person, you can register for the summer there, as well). 

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February 22, 2017

Creative Drama At Henry Fonda Theatre Academy

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know I like exposing my kids to performing arts experiences around Omaha. Our latest arts adventure has been at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse.

Exterior of Omaha Community Playhouse
Omaha Community Playhouse is home to the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy, which offers classes for a range of ages.

The education department at the theater invited my kids to attend the classes complimentary so that I can tell you about them. Since my kids fall into different age groups, I’ll write separate posts about each. Let’s start with Creative Drama, the adorably fun intro to theater for children ages 4 to 6. Later this week, I’ll tell you about Junior Players, for children ages 7-10.

How To Teach Drama To Preschoolers 

Creatie Drama teacher at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse
My daughter and the teacher of Creative Drama, Matthew, a seasoned actor you’ve likely seen on different stages around Omaha.

Creative Drama is a six-week session for children ages 4 to 6. The motto of the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy is “Life skills through stage skills.”

Like all classes in the Academy, children learn about the tools of the actor: Mind, body and voice. They learn ways to manipulate each of those areas with the long-term goal of developing stronger interpersonal communication skills.

What my daughter thought the class was: An hour-long silly session with Mr. Matthew.

What the class really was: Children play games that teach them how to use their bodies and voices to share emotions. In one session, they played “I’m a little teapot” using angry, sad, and happy voices and posture. They do a lot of games that involve following directions on cue and learning ways to use their voices without damaging vocal chords. In a later class, children played a game where they tried to guess the emotion of a volunteer based on their body language. All helpful stuff for my daughter!

What parents should know

Creative Drama class for young kids at Omaha Community Playhouse
This may have been the scene during the Creative Drama “share” day when the children were to act like knights. They look like they’re galloping, right?

Parents aren’t allowed to sit in on these classes. If you’re a manic photo taker like myself, it’s a tough pill to swallow. However, this allows the children some independence and removes the parental distraction out of the equation.

Mooch wasn’t very forthcoming with what she did each week in class. She seemed to leave class each week with a smile on her face, so I’ll take it as a good sign.

You do get to see some of what they’ve worked on, though. At the end of the six-week session, parents are invited to sit in on a “share” day, which was the final 15 minutes of the last class.

During my daughter’s “share,” we saw her do an improvised puppet show with a classmate, as well as some pretend scenarios. We also got to see the teacher interact with the students, and Matthew was fantastic, patiently trying to herd the kittens coach the children and encourage the more stage-shy children to participate.

How to register a child for Creative Drama

Theatre class for young kids at Omaha Community Playhouse
The dramatic tale about a princess, a queen elephant and some missing pencils, presented in a Creative Drama class at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy.

The next session of Creative Drama begins the week of April 3 and registration is already open. You can register your little one for the spring session here (and if you’re a plan-ahead kind of person, you can register for the summer there, as well). 

Stay In The Know!

Subscribe to Oh My! Omaha’s bi-monthly (ish) e-newsletter. It’s totally FREE, and tells you all about the things going on in the Midwest, offers travel inspiration, and more! Subscribe here.