NEWBERRY — For the past three weeks, the Newberry Community Players has been holding a free Teen Theater Academy for interested children and teenagers.
The academy, which was started four years ago, educates the interested youths in acting, set design, play writing and costumes as a way to promote creativity.
“Nowadays, schools offer very little theater, and that is a shame because children who do theater end up being better writers and speakers,” said Ellen Hunt, board chair and artistic director of the Newberry Community Players.
Hunt is the main voice behind the academy.
In the past, the academy was only offered one week out of the summer, but this year the camp was expanded to four weeks, occurring on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which helped expand the courses provided.
“This year we are not just teaching acting. We are offering costume, tech, play writing classes and we began a directors internship,” said Hunt.
Each week, the youths learn at least one skill, whether to sew on a button o use a hammer. A project that will be completed by the end of the academy will show off the skills they have learned.
“The children become very excited about the things we teach them, so many of them became very excited when they learned how to sew on a button,” said Hunt.
Each week the academy’s turnout increases from the previous week. The first week, the academy had about 10 youths in attendance and the second week that number grew to 25. Hunt expects the third week will bring even more based on past years.
“The first year we began the academy, we had to really work to get 15 children to show up, and last year we had 80 children come to participate in Alice in Wonderland,” Hunt said.
The academy is free. The only requirement is having an interest in theater.
“I felt like it (the academy) had to be free, because not everyone can participate in a camp that costs. I wanted to do something that we ask the students if they are interested when they come in and not do you have the money,” said Hunt.
Hunt not only started the academy to allow youths of all financial backgrounds to have a chance to learn, but also to allow creativity to blossom in children.
“We, as a community, cannot promote creativity in children if we are not committed to teaching them,” said Hunt.
The academy is open every Tuesday and Thursday. Children 8 to 12 attend the Thursday camp and teenagers 13 to 18 attend Tuesdays.
For more information on the academy or to register, call 803-924-7158.