Children’s Theatre Workshop - A three week long summer program, generally starting the first full week after the 4th of July holiday, our Children's Theatre Workshop is an introduction to theatre and acting for children ages 8-13. Generally over 40 to 60 children from throughout our south central Wisconsin area participate. Each child is matched with a director and participates in theatrical exercises and activities that introduce them to the basics of the theater, learn basic acting skills and learn to perform a short play. The theater exercises are intended to develop poise, confidence, voice, movement, basic theatrical terminology and practices, and an understanding of their characters for the play. All of the students who participate in the program and attend the practices are on stage in either a speaking or non-speaking role. During the last week of the program the children host and perform the play for parents, relatves, friends and the people of our communities in our 285 seat Zona Gale Theatre.
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Youth Theatre Workshop – Generally over 50 youth from throughout our area although some from several other states such as Illinois, California, Texas and Missouri participate in this week long summer workshop. The week's theme is traditionally guided by a Shakespearean play performed at the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, though this is flexible. During the workshop the students are divided into groups of grade school, middle school and high school students. The groups rotate through a wide variety of classes, including studying Shakespeare, movement, Butoh, music theatre, acting and also a series of electives in topics such as set design, audition techniques, and improvisation. The instructors include both local leaders in theatre as well as regional and national guest artists.
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Youth Theatre Production - After the Youth Theatre Workshop is complete the Zona Gale Young People's Theatre focuses on one or two full-scale productions one in late summer/early fall and/or one in the winter/spring. Dr. Johnson serves as the Director and/or Artistic Director. One production is generally targeted at a specific audience group ranging from 1st through 6th grades. The other production is generally targeted at a specific audience group ranging from 7th through 12th grades.
The production team consists of professional designers and adult volunteers. The goals of the Youth Theatre Productions are to demonstrate excellence from the youth theatre participants as well as area adults who are cast. The average cast size is about 20 people who are cast age appropriate for the roles. The selections of plays are based on content and audience interest with consideration of stage and cast size. The selected plays are both entertaining and challenging for the actors and audience. Some of the subjects that have been addressed in past plays include; dealing with long-term illness and/or death, prejudice of those with mental challenges, confrontation of fears, family conflicts, homelessness, and the holocaust. These challenging issues are addressed in positive and sensitive ways which adults as well as grade school children can understand and appreciate.
Each play is generally performed over two weekends, for the public and on two school days, four shows, for area school children and teachers. The teachers are given study guides to use before and after the production with the children in their classes.
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