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Siouxland elementary kids learn improvisational theater in one-day summer camp

Siouxland elementary kids learn improvisational theater in one-day summer camp


SIOUX CITY -- Bradey Hansen is a 40-year-old teacher, with a bunch of kids, a pile of dirty laundry stacked as high as Mount Everest and a dog with an identity crisis.

"My dog thinks he is a bunny," she said. "He is very confused."

If you think Bradey is also a bit confused, well, she isn't. She's actually a Siouxland Christian School fifth-grader who was learning about acting during a one-day "Road to Broadway" camp, presented by Woodbury County 4-H and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on Wednesday.

According to Leeann Smith, an AmeriCorps staff member and acting teacher, this special workshop was designed to teach kids, ages 5 - 11, the ins and outs of the theater world.

"I was involved in theater when I was young," she explained. "This class gives young people the chance to learn how to develop a character, try out improvisational skills and, literally, put on a show at the end of the day." 

This was true for Bradey, who was a method actor if there ever was one.

"I chose my character by picking out a piece of paper," she said. "I've been a 40-year-old woman all day long."

At least that's better than Charlie Henderson, who is a 7-year-old girl who goes to Maple Valley-Anthon Oto Elementary School.

"I play a 50-year-old man," she said, not too convincingly.

Smith said acting classes give kids the chance to step outside of their comfort zone while learning how to think on their feet.

In other words, these kids many not become the next Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, but they may become better communicators.

But we wouldn't be surprised if Emily Eckhoff, an 8-year-old Sergeant Bluff-Luton student, might have a future in acting.

Indeed, she's already perfected two colorful characters.

"I love playing a grandma and I love playing someone with a creepy laugh," Emily said. "The grandma is fun because she talks like an old lady. The person with a creepy laugh is fun because she has an French accent."

Um ... why does she have a French accent?

"Because I'm good at doing a French accent," Emily said with an actor's panache.

On the other hand, Ella Campbell admitted she can't do a convincing dialect nor a spooky laugh. Instead, the 7-year-old Maple Valley-Anthon Oto student is participating in the class for fun.

"We get to dress up, laugh and play funny parts," she said. "I like that."


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