theater of anger
With a strong theater curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels in Athens City Schools, Tantrum Theater Performance Teacher and Director of Education Rebecca VerNooy saw a gap in school education. Athens Intermediate School (AMS) and the need for arts education for young people in this age group.
VerNooy said there is such interest in theater in Athens – citing the Tantrum Theatre, the Ohio Valley Summer Theater (OVST) and other theater troupes – so teaching theater etiquette is crucial. profession from an early age.
“We’re here to cultivate theater culture, because a lot of people don’t know what theater entails,” VerNooy said. “We are such a city of theater that we want to train people in [theater] protocols, etiquette and vocabulary. So what if [students] continue, they have the training, they have a good foundation.
The AMS Drama Club rehearses at the ARTS/West arts venue in the city of Athens and is supported by funds from the Ohio Arts Council through the Tantrum Theater and the College of Fine Arts at the University from Ohio.
“By using this rehearsal space, the connection between community and arts education is strengthened,” VerNooy said. “We have three parts of our community served including the university, community and local school districts. ARTS/West is a community arts center, so I want to use it like that. »
VerNooy added that the AMS Drama Club had 60 students enrolled when it was established, and with the number of students enrolled, the program was divided into groups for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
The club’s most recent performance, “Middle School Madness”, took place at the end of March and allowed students to write and perform their own pieces. VerNooy said the theme centers on moving forward after the impacts of the pandemic.
“People are writers,” VerNooy said. “It’s amazing, creatively (what we can do) when we go out of our own way.”
The program also benefits members of the OHIO community, such as Dayton alumnus Edward Willison, BSS ’10, and Jane Regan, a freshman performance graduate student, who are both involved in teaching to students.
Regan began working with AMS students through her graduate assistantship in teaching drama in undergraduate education. Part of the class program involved working with the AMS Drama Club, ensuring that middle school students received a sharp and informed education, as well as allowing students to immerse themselves in theater pedagogy.
Regan, who works with sixth graders, gave students the chance to write, pitch and perform their own plays.
“We started by trying to build a whole between the sixth graders and get them out of their comfort zone because for a lot of them at that age it’s really unbearable to be perceived as looking weird. “, said Regan. “A big part of our challenge was to show them, yeah, you’re going to look silly, and if we all look silly, then that’s fine.”
Regan’s favorite part about working with younger students was their depth of imagination and creativity.
“For me, I spend most of my days with my fellow theater class graduates trying so hard to get back into that childish imagination,” Regan said. “Seeing it firsthand is like, ‘Oh okay, I’ve got all of this in me.'”
Willison said teaching drama at the middle school level can help foster creativity and playfulness, especially at a time when students are experiencing other life changes.
“That part of you doesn’t need to change,” Willison said. “It gives them space for their creativity, and [they realize] it must never disappear.
Willison added that the program teaches life skills in tolerance and teamwork, as students are expected to collaborate in their performance.
With this approach to teaching, students not only learn about theater, but about themselves, VerNooy said.
“What I love about a drama club is that these kids find their people,” VerNooy said.
Upcoming theater and performance opportunities this summer include offerings from Tantrum Theater and the School of Drama through the College of Fine Arts’ Summer Pre-College Arts Programs for Youth and Fine Arts. arts.