The world is a stage for Snoqualmie Middle School thespians
November 7, 2012
To hear Alysa Vermeulen tell it, making it in theatre is simple: When in doubt, Tinkerbell out.
“Last year, we were performing at the high school,” the sixth-grader from Snoqualmie Middle School said during a break of the school’s drama club. “We were doing a game and it was supposed to last a minute and they left me alone on stage with 30 seconds left.”
So she decided to flap her arms around, repeating “Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell,” until her minute was up.
“They started to laugh, they thought I was a really good actor,” Vermeulen said. “They were like, ‘Look! She can make herself sweat.’”
The students at drama club – four boys and 41 girls—vary from newbies to veterans. The class teaches them strategies and techniques more than scripts, and the children love their teacher Stephanie Lynn Merrow for it.
“In this class, we do more improv and less planned acting,” said first-year student Paula Bachtal, “it’s more suspenseful and you have to think a bit harder.”
Twelve-year-old Kaitlin Losansky, who has been acting for eight years, calls Merrow the best teacher she has ever had.
“She actually teaches you something, she doesn’t just give you lines.” Losansky said.
Merrow, a teacher of drama and dance for the past 15 years, asks her charges to connect with their audience at all times. Never turn your back on them, always project your voice, and if they laugh at you, it’s a good thing.
“Make sure they know what’s going on,” said student Abbi Zuray. “Make everything clear.”
The students play games, crack one another up, but in the meantime, they build up their nerves for when the audience is someone outside Drama Club.
“It keeps us from breaking down and crying in the middle of things,” said SMS student Erika Khosrovian.
These children can’t drive yet, but they are driven to theater. It’s a career they are building, even this early on. Club member Taylor Lamb smiled when a classmate said she would be famous by appearing in the paper.
“Thank you,” Lamb replied. “I already planned that.”
For Calie Rose, the club helps her combat her shyness, she said, recurring even to a certain mantra. When in doubt, Tinkerbell out.
She was the performer after Vermeulen finished flapping.
“I thought, ‘if Alysa did that,” Rose said, “I probably will be able to do my sketch.”
Classmate Allison Caswell agreed.
“A lot of us did not know a single thing about improv or drama,” she said. “Now we know there’s one more opportunity. We can be actors or actresses and not be afraid.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.