[The Montana Professor 25.1, Fall 2014 <http://mtprof.msun.edu>]

BRAVO! for Outreach in Acting and Life Skills

Submitted by the program directors

—BRAVO! logo
BRAVO logo

Now in its second year, BRAVO! is directed by Teresa Waldorf, the Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Montana Repertory Theatre and UM School of Theatre & Dance Adjunct Professor of Drama in Elementary Education courses. BRAVO! was the brain-child of Professor Jere Hodgin, Acting and Directing instructor at the school, who, with Teresa's help, launched BRAVO! in the fall of 2013 to expand the UM School of Theatre & Dance's educational outreach into the Missoula community and outlying areas.

At its most basic level, BRAVO's curriculum approaches "Acting Lessons" as a life skill for students. "Whereas a small number of these kids may go on to become performers or actors, the majority of them will not, but they will all be expected to interview for a job or speak in front of a group at some time in their future. We can help them do that well, with confidence and style," explains Waldorf. Enrolled students engage in creative dramatics, improvisation, beginning-level acting, story dramatization, musical theatre, movement, short scene work, and more. The intent is to develop self confidence, imagination, and independent thinking while cooperating, to build social awareness, and to help children gain better habits of speech all while taking a walk in someone else's shoes.

With this in mind, Teresa Waldorf and her team-teacher Rosie Ayers spent two twelve-week sessions last school year playing with, teaching, directing, and modeling behavior for their 50+ "first year" students, Monday through Thursday from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in a bright and welcoming acting studio in UM's McGill Hall.

BRAVO! student group

Each semester culminated in a showcase performance in the Masquer Theatre in the UM Performing Arts Building, allowing students to show off their new skills while family and friends got to sit and watch…and share in the fun.

The Fall Showcase brought the audience of more than two hundred people a story dramatization of Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester by the K-1st grade class, a scene about the importance of choosing to be seen, heard, and understood by the 2nd-3rd grade class, a dramatization of student-written verse inspired by the poem "If I Were In Charge Of The World" by the 4th-5th grade class, and a funny short play written by the 6th-9th grade class called "Ghost Cats." The finale was a comic reading of The Schmo Must Go On by Richard Thaler including all fifty student actors.

In the spring, Rosie spent her time with the 6th-9th grade class working on Theatre for Social Change in which actors made themselves into a Living Art Gallery centered around the theme of social injustice for the preshow part of the Showcase.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown was the inspiration for an animal study scene by the K-1st grade class. And the 2nd-3rd and 4th-5th graders all performed Reader's Theatre selections chosen by the class from the many scripts they read over the course of the semester.

Whereas the semesters culminate in showcase performances, the daily classes remain process-driven, with much more time being spent on building confidence, learning to think on one's feet, improvising, and just having fun. The TION TEAM (CooperaTION, ImaginaTION, ObservaTION, ConcentraTION) is a big staple when choosing warm-up activities for each class, and students are constantly encouraged to come up with their own material for scenes, monologues, and dramatizations.

[The Montana Professor 25.1, Fall 2014 <http://mtprof.msun.edu>]

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