Growing as an Individual: A student’s perspective on Children’s Theatre Workshop

Michelle Khzakia

A play isn’t just about memorizing a few lines and spitting them out on stage in front of a bunch of people.

Children’s Theatre Workshop (CTW) is  offered every semester and gives students the opportunity to put on a show for young audiences. CTW meets twice a week for three hours. Students work on all of the different areas of production: acting, marketing, design, audience engagement and management. This workshop taught me the different qualities in a good actress. It is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding opportunities I have ever experienced as I definitely never believed I could be an actress.

“ANON(YMOUS)” is about a refugee boy named Anon. After being ripped apart from his mother he goes on a journey to search for his family. Anon is trying to find where he belongs. Throughout the play he learns to grow as an individual. Having an opportunity to put on a show to a young audience in our community is very meaningful as the play is very powerful and most people in our community can relate to it.

This process requires a lot of dedication. The students in CTW’s plays put in the time and effort into memorizing their lines. “If I have to take the bus, I am going through my lines. You have to read your lines and know your placements for where you have to be on stage,” Kaila Oquendo, NEIU student and character of Naja in ANON(YMOUS), said.

The students become their character. They feel what their character feels. For instance, I am a very quiet person and the character I am playing is a very strong and controlling woman which forces me to  get out of my comfort zone.

Students have to be committed to the play and to their role in order to give the audience the best experience. NEIU student Forrest Kiehm taught himself the lighting and sound techniques needed for the play. “Learning the light board seemed impossible at first, but it slowly made sense over time. It’s fun creating lighting and sound cues to go along with the play,” Kiehm  said.

Engaging with the audience is another important part of this particular story. An actor or actress must always be aware of the audience because ANON(YMOUS) is shared directly with them. The students must not only tell their story, but help influence the audience at the right places. In other words, the students become the storytellers.

Having a good professor teaching CTW makes a difference in the overall quality of the class and performance. Communications, media and theatre Professor Adam Goldstein guided my classmates and me throughout the whole semester.  

Sometimes reciting lines in front of other people can be a little nerve wracking and awkward. Professor Goldstein makes us feel comfortable by making the atmosphere very relaxing. He makes us laugh, which is another way to make us feel comfortable.

“When I had the biggest bulk of my lines right at the beginning of the play, he was super nice about me having time to learn them. When I messed up, he told me not to get down on myself,” said Julia Rudesill, NEIU student and actress playing the role of Calista.

This play is different from how most plays are directed. We only meet as a class twice a week for three hours. Most plays get a lot more rehearsal time as a group.

“So typically for a play like this, we would be rehearsing 5-6 days a week, 4-8 hours a day for 4-5 weeks. Instead what we get is twice a week, 3 hours a day, in the context of class over 7 weeks before we perform,” Goldstein said.  

I am very thankful to have the opportunity to learn from Professor Goldstein. He taught me not only how to become a better actress but to become a stronger and more confident individual.

Stage Center’s Children’s Theatre Workshop presents ANON(YMOUS)  Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. from October 30th to Dec. 6th