The Kodiak Arts Council’s Sum’arts for Kids classes are in full swing in Kodiak. One segment is challenging a small group of actors to explore how they approach emotions while in character.
A young actress exclaims, “Avast there matey it be talk like a pirate day! Hand over those donuts.” Sitting in a circle on the stage of the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium. A young group of actors are practicing lines and discussing each other’s performance. Leading them is Lissa Woodbury Jensen. She’s the instructor of this class, Acting Techniques. It’s a part of the summer arts program, Sum’arts for Kids. This workshop is meant to challenge the kid’s view of acting and push them to be in better touch with the emotions of the characters they play.
According to Jensen, “Lot of people think acting is to get a costume on and kinda get a character and walk on the stage and know their lines and perform it. But to me acting is more the emotional state you’re in.” The way Jensen helps her students improve is by having them play parts that may be outside their comfort zone. Then, as they perform, she examines their delivery and gives notes. “I look at myself as a coach. And at first when actors are starting to work with me they get annoyed because I stop them, but I don’t want it to get away from that moment,” says Jensen.
Derek Rocheleau is one of Jensen’s students that’s found value in her method. Jensen offers feedback as he works through a scene:
Rocheleau: We have a photograph from when I was a baby wearing one of my mother’s turtlenecks.
Jensen: No, lets try something different. Do it again, but when you go to the photograph. Laugh. Like it’s just funny. I’m just playing with you cause I know you can take it.
By adjusting his line delivery, Rouchelau’s performance is received enthusiastically by Jensen and his peers.
Rocheleau: We have a photograph of when I was a baby wearing one of my mother’s turtlenecks. Swimming in one of my mother’s turtlenecks more like it. Just a bald head in a big shirt.
Jensen: Isn’t that good! Did you guys see that? That was brilliant.
Even though this class is only two weeks long, Roucheleau is already seeing how it’s helping him grow as an actor. He says, ” Before now I only thought really about one way an actor could portray something or one way an actor could feel something. Now I’m realizing that character can be portrayed so many more ways than one or two.”
With what they’ve learned these young thespians will hopefully continue forward better prepared for future parts. This class will end on the 14th and all other Sum’Arts programs will finish by July 28th.