Young actors learn the best of Shakespeare

by Tori Sheets

Young thespians are getting an opportunity to expand their skills during a two week long theatre workshop under the direction of a nationally known theater instructor.
Kathleen O'Mara has been teaching, performing and directing performances since 1992. She has worked with thousands of students across the nation and taught many workshops like the one she is now teaching at the Sherbino Theater for Weehawken Creative Arts.
This particular workshop highlights iconic portions of Shakespearean plays and will culminate with two performances at the end of the lessons. Students will deliver Hamlet's monologue, fight scenes from "The Taming of the Shrew,” the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" and more.
On the third day of the workshop students already had dialogue memorized and were working on fight scenes. Several of the students agreed they already felt like they had created a piece of art. The group spends five hours a day going through team building exercises, practicing lines and playing around with Shakespeare on stage.
O'Mara said the secret to a successful workshop is trust and communication among all the actors. Her main rule is to be open to new ideas. She said the students help to shape the class, but she does have clear goals in mind for the young actors.
"I do have a curriculum, it just comes out in various ways with various groups," she said. "We try to keep on eye on what we need to have done everyday."
On Thursday, the third day of the workshop, students were polishing up their Shakespearean insults and fight scenes. Actors spit out zingers such as "You logger headed, clay brained horn-beast," "you venomed, sheep-biting scut" and "you mangled, boiled-brained flap-dragon" before dramatically play-slapping and stomping one another and running off stage.
The actors agreed the combats are their favorite part of the workshop so far, and O'Mara said safety is her priority for the dramatic youngsters.
O'Mara is planning on bringing more workshops to the Sherbino in the future. She wrote an original version of "Alice in Wonderland" called "Rock and Roll Alice," and she also plans on workshopping "The Lion King" in the fall. She has been living in Ridgway for two years and she said she loves how passionate the community is for theater. She plans on doing even more workshops in the future.
The young actors will show off everything they learned during the two week workshop with the performance of "The Best of Shakespeare" on July 15 at 6 p.m. and July 16 at 1 p.m. at the Sherbino.