Now in her 7th year working with Arts to Grow, theater teaching artist Patricia Runcie, has been able to help hundreds of students learn and grow through the arts. She recently shared with us stories of a few of her students this year.
Ashley began working with Arts to Grow’s Musical Theater program and TA, Patricia Runcie as a 5th grader who needed work on her volume and diction, Kezia now a 6th grader began working with Patricia last year and needed to learn how to focus and concentrate during rehearsals, and a third student Sheyla, today a 8th grader has been working with Patricia since 6th grade when she was very shy on stage and showed lack luster energy when in character.
Patricia had Ashley do warm-ups and instrument exercises to increase the size and challenge of her vocal part and stage presence. Now in 8th grade and near the end of her fourth year, Ashley has gone from an ensemble member in the chorus to a lead role this year with her own song! No longer is she the shy 5th grader, we could hardly hear talking into the floor! And forget about singing by herself in front of others! Now she commands the stage and has great diction, singing with confidence and panache.
Kezia was given techniques to help her slow down and focus on breathing, all the while encouraging her progress. She also completed concentration exercises. Kezia’s attendance was consistent and her level of commitment to proper rehearsal work habits increased. This is now Kezia’s second year. As a 6th grader, Kezia’s is now already exhibiting significant improvement. When it is time to rehearse she works hard to maintain focus and is doing great work creating her characters. Last year she was moody and ill prepared, but this year she has matured, is ready to work. As a testament to Kezia’s hard work, this year she plays two speaking roles integral to the plot and was selected as a dance captain. She also holds the added responsibility of being an understudy for the Tin Man.
Sheyla received support in ensemble through exercises to build character skills and analysis and to create the fourth wall. Her level of commitment to objective and intentions of a character increased the caliber of her roles over the years. The encouragement and support of TA, Patricia Runcie and peers was paramount.
Now after three years with ATG, Sheyla, now an 8th grader has the best diction and volume in the entire group! Previously, she would literally hide behind her hair while onstage and mumble through her lines at the same pace and pitch. She now shows clever character analysis and speaks clearly and openly. Previously, Sheyla has played soft-spoken characters. But this year she took on the commanding and intricate role of The Wiz. Her range as an actress has expanded over the life of the program and so too has here confidence and leadership.