For two to three hours every week in Tacoma, WA., students ages 10 to 18 join class from early Fall to late Spring, the Drama Dragons are at work on many different aspects of theatre. In the first part of each session, they work on getting to know each other. After everyone is well-acquainted, they begin studying a subject that varies from year to year. Some examples are puppets, masks, Shakespeare, and the history of theatre. We also cover basic theatre terms, and shorthand. Even if they don’t like acting, the Drama Dragons will teach them useful life skills, such as confidence, self-esteem, cooperation, and how to overcome personal inhibitions. All in all, it proves to be a fun and educational experience.
The second half of the session is spent in the acting realm of theatre. The first step is to read many scripts and take a vote on which would be the most viable and most entertaining to perform. Following that decision, the students audition for multiple desired parts, and the cast is chosen. We then work on memorizing lines, blocking, and overall acting. The students are encouraged to personalize their character, giving him/her a backstory, vocal and physical mannerisms, and internal dialogue. Also during this time, we brainstorm about props, stage pieces, costumes, and music for the upcoming performance. The students learn about enunciation, pronunciation, emotions, building their character, and the proper way to move onstage. Near the end of the production, we visit the theater and discuss lighting, set, and stage properties. Then, after multiple dress rehearsals, the students perform the show for families, friends, and others.
Throughout the session, the students play many fun games, all of which have underlying purposes. In these games, they learn improvisation, actions/reactions, staying in character, memorization, and much, much more.
At times, homework is given, no matter what they’re learning. Homework is always an important factor in the Drama Dragons. Students are assigned tasks that should be turned in either the next class or a few classes out. They are assigned such things as writing summaries, critiques, or poems, doing research on a topic, history, or a script and memorizing monologues/dialogues in their spare time.
Depending on the show, there can be many different implementations into the student’s acting experience. These can include stage combat, pantomime, monologues, and impersonation. Many of the skills practiced in each session give the student lifelong abilities to be a confident public speaker and techniques to handle many an unfamiliar situation.