A new class at the Bowie Community Theatre is not only inspiring youth to take interest in the performing arts, it’s inspiring their creativity, as well.
“My character is named Ginny, and she likes to snowboard and read, sometimes at the same time,” Bowie resident Joan Reimer, 8, said of the character she created during the organization’s new children’s theater class. “And she can turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.”
The class started Feb. 1 to generate interest in theatrical arts and potentially lay the groundwork for a children’s theater that would put on family-friendly plays, said class teacher Amanda Magoffin, community theater member and actor.
The class, a weekend course that runs about two hours, introduces students to the theater, to include acting, using makeup and costumes, and learning about behind-the-scenes work, Magoffin said.
“It is not just about acting. A lot of things go into making a show,” Magoffin said. “You’d be surprised how many kids want to be in theater.”
Most of the theater’s shows tend to be for mature audiences, so Magoffin said she hopes the classes will transition into a children’s theater that could provide shows that families could enjoy, because it is something she thinks the community needs.
Magoffin is teaching two classes, one for children ages 6 to 10 and another for ages 10 to 14, where she teaches them about acting, stage design, makeup and costumes. There are 16 students, the max allowed in the younger group classes while 12 are enrolled in the older class.
Magoffin said her students have really embraced the program. The theater received a $1,500 grant from Bowie’s Arts Committee to launch the class. The course costs $75, which Magoffin said goes toward renting theater space and paying for things that the grant didn’t cover.
Joan’s mother, Patricia Reimer of Bowie, said her daughter enjoys acting and singing, so she decided to sign her up for the program.
“She and her brother are always putting on little shows. And it teaches her new things about the stage,” Reimer said.
Bowie resident Jason Craig, whose daughters Emma, 7, and Cara, 9, are in the program, said the classes have been a great opportunity to expose his children to the arts.
“If your kid plays sports, there are plenty of chances to play as they grow older,” Craig said. “But for the arts, there isn’t a lot for the younger kids feeding into the high schools.”
Magoffin said she hopes to expand the production camp into more classes that would focus on specific theater disciplines like acting and costumes. But, for now, she said the focus will be on the current classes and their upcoming productions. The students all will participate in a yet to be determined family-friendly play during the final class of the program in April, Magoffin said.
“I really want to create an associated theater for children,” Magoffin said. “A lot of parents are thrilled, and the kids are excited and want to come back.”