Montana Actors’ Theatre began its new youth workshops Monday in The Ryan Building, led by Youth and Children’s Theater Director Angela Pratt.
The workshops will teach the basics of theater over the next year. The workshops will include auditioning, character development and basic movement; costume design and construction; intro to classical theatre, Shakespeare, and stage fighting; one acts: writing, development, and performances; light and sound; intro to puppetry; and prosthetics and makeup.
“It is giving the students just another chance to experience theatre in all the ways that they can,” said Pratt.
There is a monthly charge of $50 for the first child and $35 for additional children from the same family. These workshops are for grades 6-12 for the time being, however, Pratt said they hope to expand the program to include grades K-5 as well.
She said that older students will have a chance to volunteer and teach the younger students when the K-5 program gets up and running as well.
“We wanted to just be able to give them a taste of everything. So, they are going to learn how to write scripts. They’re going to learn how to audition better. They are going to learn how to do body movement. They are going to learn stage fighting. They are going to learn how to costume. They are going to learn how to make masks. I mean they are going to learn tons of different things. They are going to learn lighting and sound, all of the ins and outs of theatre,” Pratt said.
She added that she hopes to continue the program annually and have the program grow with the students.
Pratt said the program will have opportunities for attendees and students not attending the workshops to audition for different productions throughout the year. There are three productions planned as part of the workshops to include an awareness piece for which she did not give a name as well as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Shakespeare’s “Midsummers Night Dream.” After the school year begins the workshop students will learn about puppets and make their own puppets to put on a production of “A Christmas Carol.”
“You don’t have to be in the workshops to be in the productions,” she said. “It is important for people to understand with these workshops that if they can’t afford it we still want them to come be a part of it. There are scholarships available and if anyone wants to donate to help with those scholarships, we would love to have anyone that wanted to donate to MAT to help this program.”
Pratt added that children who want to participate in the theater workshops do not have to be in public school district. MAT welcomes all children including homeschoolers.
The workshops are set up with COVID-19 guidelines, and will be limited to 20 students. The students will be required to sign in each day and, if ill, they should stay home. Students will be required to wear a mask at all times when in a building or social distancing is not available outside. Students will also be expected to sanitize hands, sit in assigned seats and stay in assigned small groups.
Workshops will be held Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. The workshop schedule is as follows:
The February 2021 workshop will be auditioning, character development and basic movement. The April 2021 workshop will cover costume design and construction. In May 2021 intro to classical theater, Shakespeare, and stage fighting will be covered. In September 2021, Pratt will teach one-act plays: writing, development, and performance. October 2021 will consist of the students learning light and sound during the workshops. In November 2021 the students will learn puppetry and start working on the Christmas production. In the January 2022 workshop students will cover prosthetics and makeup.
Students interested in participating in the MAT workshops can sign up at https://mtactors.com/youth-programs/ .
Pratt was the Havre High School drama director for six years and was assistant director to Jay Pyette at the high school for five years prior to that. She resigned last month from the high school to take the Youth and Children’s Theater Director position with MAT.
MAT is looking at doing productions of “Matilda” and “School of Rock” in the coming years that will also include children in the productions, although those productions are not set in stone, said Pratt.
The MAT production of “Mama Mia” is still on hold, she said. The production was scheduled to start in March, in Little Theatre in Cowan Hall, but was canceled when Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian closed all campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It will eventually hit the stage. The set is still on the stage. The university, with their guidelines and lockdown stuff, does not allow us to do it right now. We’re waiting to be able to have a full audience in there again. Mama Mia will be our big back to our stage, here we go,” said Pratt.