Theater students hone their stage skills during Drama Day at Elm Street Center
by Rebecca Johnston
March 17, 2013 12:02 AM | 1997 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Improv instructor Jessica Williams gives instructions on a group exercise during Wednesday's Drama Day at the Elm Street Cultural Arts Center in Woodstock. <br> Staff/Todd Hull
Improv instructor Jessica Williams gives instructions on a group exercise during Wednesday's Drama Day at the Elm Street Cultural Arts Center in Woodstock.
Staff/Todd Hull
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Creekview sophomore Natalie Martin practices the fundamentals of puppetry with a sock puppet.
Creekview sophomore Natalie Martin practices the fundamentals of puppetry with a sock puppet.
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Students in the stage combat class learn how to safely fall on stage.
Students in the stage combat class learn how to safely fall on stage.
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Young thespians from local high schools took to the stage — and classroom — at Cherokee County Schools Drama Day on Wednesday.

For the third year, the event was presented at Elm Street Cultural Arts City Center in Woodstock and offered those in attendance a chance to show off their dramatic skills and learn some new ones.

Creekview High School interim drama director Ed Palombo has been bringing students to the annual event for 15 years, and said each year it is a highlight for the students chosen to attend.

“Definitely for the kids, this is a dramatic social event, where they get to see other drama students from the other schools in the county. A lot of kids look forward to this,” Palombo said. “They have to earn their stripes to go. This is for the students most active in theater at their schools — being picked is an honor.”

About 120 students attended — about 18 to 20 students from each high school, he said.

Elm Street Artistic Director Gay Grooms said the event is great for her and her staff as well.

“I think it’s great for the students to see each other’s works in progress and to have the chance to interact with each other through a combined arts event such as Drama Day,” Grooms said. “They also get to spend two hours at four different workshops learning some skills and techniques that are not always part of the regular drama class curriculum. And perhaps discover an interest or talent they didn’t know they had.”

The high schools bring eligible drama students for one day to demonstrate what each school is working on either in class or for one of their big shows.

Students on Wednesday sang solos and duets, recited monologues and scenes, and performed numbers from their spring musicals, Grooms said.

Palombo said this year’s workshops were especially rewarding, with two — those in puppetry and voiceovers —offering a chance for the students to hone skills that could help them pursue a career in theater.

They attended four workshops: Improv Skills taught by Jessica Williams of Elm Street’s iThink Improv Troupe; Stage Combat taught by Kristin Storla of Elm Street and the Shakespeare Tavern; Voiceover Acting taught by Jan Mary Nelson of Woodstock, Elm Street and JanMary Enterprises; and Puppetry Basics taught by Elizabeth Steed Vitale of Atlanta and Puppatoons.

Grooms said Elm Street is a great place for the workshop.

“This is another great advantage to being in downtown Woodstock and having such a large, versatile facility for special events, workshops, and such,” she said.

After the workshops the students had lunch at Elm Street, brought in by Canyons Restaurant.

“When I asked the teachers what types of workshops they’d like us to present this year, a couple of them mentioned puppetry. I was fortunate enough to find Liz Vitale of Puppatoons, and she was able to teach quite a bit in only 30 minutes,” Grooms said.

Palombo said the day was successful for the students.

“We so seldom get to share among all the kids in the county. It is exciting to see them to showcase talent and mingle. It is important that kids who share a love of theater get to be together,” he said.
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