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Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Wild Time at the Academy: Review of "Wild Things" Workshop at Act 3 Drama Academy

And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws- till Max said "BE STILL!" 

- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Days of Being Wild
Last week we accompanied our 4-year-old son Z for a class of a different kind. Invited by one of our all-time favourite theatre groups Act 3 International for a media workshop, we didn't quite know what to expect when we arrived at their premises. And the anticipation grew as we (the parents) were separated from them (the children) at the start of our 1-hour workshop.

As we ascended the stairs to our separate drama area, I was brought back to a time many years ago, when I, as a child, began my own foray into the world of drama. I was enthralled then by the three personalities who made up the original Act 3; as I now reminisced about how I, as a child, developed a healthier sense of the self through my explorations of body movement in drama class. 

And the workshop began.

As parents, we were invited to participate in a series of activities normally carried out by children at Act 3 International's Drama Academy. This included drama games exploring concepts such as the use of space, levels and body awareness. There were also opportunities to act as objects in a picture frame and even perform an improv (otherwise known as improvisation) activity where I got to play the part of a teenager who had stayed out too late and was now facing the wrath of his parents. 
The coach giving us instructions before the improv.

"Dunno.... Dun care.... Watever...."
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me; especially as my own journey into the world of acting included a recent stint as teacher in-charge of the school's English Drama Club in my previous place of employment. 

It was now time to join the children.

Entering the theatre, we discovered that the kids had been engaged in a re-enactment of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, a celebrated Caldecott Medallist, which tells the story of a boy named Max whose room transforms into an untamed forest where creatures called "Wild Things" dwell. We were then asked to join the children in a combined parent-child "performance", incorporating scenes from Sendak's book.
Z playing the role of a "Wild Thing"
"Now stop!" Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper. 
According to reports from Z's teacher, he was thoroughly engaged throughout the time with the other children, and at times it seemed he was the most vocal participant; likely because Wild Things is one of his favourite books, and he is able to recite many lines from memory. Z was however overwhelmed during the last part of the workshop, and chose to sit it out, something that the teachers say will happen to children from time to time. The kids would then be given time to process their own emotions, before rejoining the class when they are ready.

As we returned home that day, i was reminded about how important drama was for me during my formative years. I learnt to be more self-confident, how to develop a healthy sense of self and others awareness, and how to be resilient through it all. For acting is not always only about the final performance - it's about training yourself to be disciplined during the numerous rehearsals; it's about not giving up even when things seem difficult; it's about knowing what to do and how to adjust to the situation when something goes wrong... Acting has made me a better person and this is something that I desire for both my children.

Act 3 Drama Academy has launched its holiday classes for November and December with the theme "Whale of a Time". Workshops for children 2-4 will be based on Julia Donaldson's "The Snail and the Whale", while older children aged 5-7 will get to enjoy Rudyard Kipling's "How the Whale Got its Throat". For more information you may refer to the Act 3 International website here.

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