Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

Discovering the Next Superstar: Exploring Drama, Theater, and Acting with Children

Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

Discovering the Next Superstar: Exploring Drama, Theater, and Acting with Children

Article excerpt

Discovering the Next Superstar: Exploring Drama, Theater, and Acting with Children

Our Learning at Home column provides ideas and resources for you to draw on at home to support, enrich, and expand learning. We extend thanks to Dr. Holly Hertberg-Davis and Dr. Carolyn Callahan of the University Dr. Virginia for coordinating this series of columns.

Whether your child has a flair for the dramatic or a desire to be the next Fellini, Hollywood and Broadway hold great excitement and wonder for children. Children are natural performers. From the first time they create their own circus, magic act, or pretend to dance like a ballerina, their imaginations are actively constructing a world of fantasy. However, those games do not have to stay imaginary. It is difficult to determine if your child just has a passing fancy with the dramatic or if this is the beginning of a lifelong passion for theater. However, even if your child has a passing fancy, the skills learned through theater (i.e. art, sewing, leadership, and organization) are valuable and will transfer to other interest and passions. There are myriad opportunities for children to learn and get involved with theater, acting, and movies.

Children often marvel at the fame actors achieve, the creative freedom of expressing themselves through script and screenwriting, and the challenge of creating costumes and props that accurately depict the setting and time period of the movie, musical, or play. The following resources are intended to introduce children to the enchanting world of theater and movies. Although most of the resources deal with school-based or community theaters, parents can work with their children to scale the ideas to be appropriate for neighborhood or homebased productions as well.

Theater for Young Children

While many children have vivid imaginations and creative spirits, not all will want to pursue theater, acting, or movies. If you think your child may have the acting bug you can start with even a very young child using some of the resources below.

On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids (1997). By Lisa Bany-Winters. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, ISBN 1556523246. 180 pages, paperback, $14.95.

This book provides scores of games for children of all ages that will allow them to be creative and perform. The games are also designed to be educational and develop some of the basic skills children will need to be actors when they grow up. It also covers some of the other elements of theater, including puppetry, costuming, and makeup for beginners.

Puppet Mania: The World's Most Incredible Puppet Making Book Ever. (2004). By John E. Kennedy. Central Islip, NY: North Light Books, ISBN 1581803729. 64 pages, paperback, $14.99.

Many children love puppets, and this book is a good way to introduce your child to the magic of puppetry. This book explains how to make puppets and turn them into characters by lip synching, body movements, and imagination.

Theater for Adolescents


The start of any great movie or play is with a single idea that blossoms into a script or screenplay for the actors and directors to bring to life.

The Elements of Playwriting by Louis E. Catron (2001). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, ISBN 157766227X. 240 pages, paperback, $14.95.

Everyone must start with an introduction to a topic, and this book is an exceptional introduction to writing plays and dramatic fiction. Using a how-to format, the book describes the elements of a great play and will guide your child in creating his or her own play.

Playwriting: The Structure of Action, Revised and Expanded Edition. (2005). By Sam Smiley and Norman Bert. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, ISBN 0300107242. 336 pages, $19.95.

For those who want a more advanced experience with playwriting this book is a good choice. While it does not work from a how-to format, it covers many of the same topics as the previous book, but from a more poetic position. …

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