Ham It Up 

"Stage Combat" classes, anyone?

MON 9/15

Most of us know the Berkeley Repertory Theatre as one of the great dramatic treasures of the Bay Area, but might not realize that its School of Theatre offers a terrific resource for kids, with a range of programs for grades K-12. Taught by some of Berkeley Rep's own luminaries, each with extensive experience in both acting and teaching, the classes range from Creative Drama for K to second grade, with an emphasis on storytelling and basic acting techniques, to classes on Playwriting, Acting Shakespeare, and Physical Theatre Training Through Commedia and Kyogen (one of Japan's major classical styles of theater) for high-schoolers. Each of the classes is developmentally based. Third-to-fifth-graders, for instance, can take Play Creation, where they learn how to turn an original story into a play. Fourth and fifth graders explore improv, theater games, and scene work in Beginning Acting. Sixth-through-eighth graders have a choice of a Play Production Workshop, in which they rehearse and perform an award-winning play; or Improv, which develops their spontaneous storytelling skills through theater games and narrative scenes; or Musical Theatre; or Hip-Hop.

For grades nine to twelve, there's Acting Shakespeare, where the students work on monologues and scenes to learn how to bring Shakespeare's language to life through work on vocal training and text analysis. In Playwriting, characters emerge through dialogue and plot in creative writing exercises. There's also a Stage Combat Workshop for ages fourteen and up.

Whether or not your child is destined for a life in the theater as an actor or playwright, these classes can build confidence in public speaking for future politicians and executives, or important writing skills that can translate into essays or poetry. And think of the all the pent-up energy that can be burned off in a sword-fight class.

For more information, check out BerkeleyRep.org, or call 510-647-2972. -- Sarah Cahill

TUE 9/16

Snot Funny

Get out your handkerchiefs

Anybody who has suffered through one of the Austin Powers sequels doesn't have to be reminded that bodily functions -- farts, shit, snot, toe jam -- sell tickets. Books, too. Cartoonist and children's author Dav Pilkey has made a career out of appealing to kids' preoccupation with their bodies' elimination processes, with such titles as Captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets. You, dear reader, may recoil at this, but the kids, uh, eat it up. Test this proposition by taking the tykes to the Storyteller bookstore in Lafayette (30 Lafayette Circle) at 8:00 this evening, where Pilkey himself will sign his books (book purchases may be required), hold lookalike contests and a comic-book-making workshop, and serve Zombie-Nerd Milkshakes. Don't ask. 925-284-3480. -- Kelly Vance


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