Whether you’d like to join a low-stakes acting class or participate in a live production, the state abounds with opportunity.
“We teach acting through improvisation, which is performance without a script. We also provide training in musical theater and film,” says Erin Scarberry, the artistic director for the Clark Youth Theatre and Clark Conservatory in Tulsa. “Many of our classes give students the opportunity to perform for a live audience; our Storybook Series is a great example.
“Theatre is a collaborative art form,” she continues. “Participation teaches teamwork, empathy and tolerance. At Clark, we work hard to build a strong and inclusive community, so students participating will gain friends and mentors that can support them as they grow.”
ArtWorks Academy in the Oklahoma City metro provides similar training for budding actors.
“There are numerous studios and performing arts academies across the state,” says co-owner Cheryl Morris. “At ArtWorks Academy, we offer musical theater, acting, theater art and dance classes for aspiring performers.”
According to Morris, the classes teach basic stage terminology and acting techniques. Students also learn the production process from start to finish, and private and group lessons are available to help students hone their skills.
Morris adds that acting classes are not just for the stage – the lessons can also impact students on a much broader scale.
“Our students become more confident in many aspects of their lives,” she says. “They find that they struggle less with speaking in front of a group, they learn about teamwork and how everyone must do their part for a project to work.”
Students develop life-long friends and even physical fitness can improve.
While COVID-19 poses an issue, Morris says the pandemic only kept classes online for eight weeks.
“Since then, we have managed to stay open with masking and physical distancing as much as possible,” she says. “Our families have been amazing about keeping sick and exposed students at home.”
Lyn Adams, executive director of the Oklahoma Children’s Theatre in Oklahoma City, does not like to use the term ‘amateur’ when referring to new actors. She says say calling one a ‘professional’ can mean a performer has a professional attitude toward the craft and fellow artists by showing up to rehearsals prepared and on time, taking directors’ notes seriously, researching their role and understanding the world of the play.
Some of the lessons taught in these classes, according to Adams, include collaboration, listening to learn and respond, following directions, compassion, understanding, creative problem solving and thinking and reasoning on one’s feet.
“Students get a greater understanding of and respect for life,” says Adams.
And as for the pandemic interfering with lessons?
“Moving online is just a different way to work with kids,” she says. “For many kids who are ill or homebound or isolated, online classes have been a gift.”
The fourth wall: An invisible division between the stage members and audience. If an actor addresses the audience directly, the fourth wall is broken.
In the round: A circular playing space in which the audience completely surrounds the space and performers.
Book: The script of the musical.
Ensemble: Members of the cast that are called upon to sing, dance and play smaller roles.
Call time: The time you have to show up for rehearsal or performance.
Blocking: The path the actors take on stage as decided upon by the actor and director.
Break a leg: Don’t ever wish a performer “good luck!” Say this instead.