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Actor's Garage coming to Cranford

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By Suburban News 
on December 09, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Cranford Recreation and Parks Department is pleased to announce the Actor's Garage is coming to Cranford to teach the program Lights! Camera! Kids! Action!

The Actor's Garage enrichment program we teach acting with a focus on TV, film, and commercial. Starting with the basics: concentration, relaxation, and improvisation. Through these tools, actors learn to be more self-confident, trusting, outgoing and comfortable in group situations. In all of the classes, the actors are taught through positive reinforcement and encouragement.

At the same time through our exploration of acting a child may learn to have a healthy self-esteem, a positive self-image, learn problem solving skills, public speaking skills & concentration skills, which can lead to a more productive student. 

Classes will be offered as follows: Grades K-two, Fridays-Jan. 8-March 11, from 3:45-4:45 p.m. Cost is $85; grades three-five, Fridays, Jan. 8-March 11, from 5-6 p.m., cost is $85.

The classes are for Cranford residents only and are limited to 16 children on a first-come, first-serve basis. Classes fill up quickly so register early.

Register online at https://register.communitypass.net/cranford or in person at the Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave. For further information, call 908 709 7283.

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Cranford acting camp boosts kids' confidence

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By Cranford Chronicle 
on July 29, 2009 at 5:40 PM, updated January 06, 2010 at 1:00 PM

WHO ORDERED THE HAM? Autumn Clarke, her sister Alannah and their friend Alec Salmon seem to be coming out of their shells.

By Carolyn Freundlich
CRANFORD -- Pretending to be an alien, 9-year-old Autumn Clarke stands on stage threatening her audience of fellow actors. "We come in peace, for now," she says in a deep voice, her knees bent and arms outstretched, twisting around like a tree come to life.

But offstage, Autumn plays a different role. She positions herself directly behind her mother's right leg. She pops her head out only when spoken to, and explains softly and slowly, "I signed up for the acting camp because I want to be an actress. It's fun."

The Actor's Garage is a week-long acting camp for kids ages 7 to 10. It's run by Lori Davidek with a staff of eight professional teachers and actors. Davidek is not an actress, but "has always been very interested in the craft," she explained. This past week, July 27-31, Davidek taught the class to a group of 32 Cranford children with the help of actress/comedian Brooke Hoover who has performed in The Baster with Jennifer Aniston and the television show Life on Mars.

Steve Robertazzi, township director of recreation, invited The Actor's Garage to Cranford because "we haven't had anything like this before and I'm always looking to try new things," he said. The response to the camp was so positive that Robertazzi has asked them to run a camp again in the fall. The Actor's Garage will return as an after school program, once-a-week for eight weeks for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"Not only is the camp a fun activity," Robertazzi said. "It's a good way to build self-esteem in kids. I think it'll bring them out of their shells -- help them learn to talk in front of people." 
Davidek does this by "always starting my classes with a game of charades," she said. "From the start they get warmed up to talking in front of a group. I've found that when they see everyone else is doing it, they know it's OK -- they feel more comfortable."

Throughout the week-long class the students also learned to read scripts, write commercials, and make a television show. The exercises were taught with a focus on the ten elements of acting; the five W's, who, what, when, where, why; and the five senses, sound, smell, touch, sight and feel. Davidek believes that these 10 elements are the key to acting.

The five W's helped the actors to ground a monologue or scene in a detailed place. To practice, Davidek had each child write their own commercial. "We made the commercials based off of what the kids are interested in," she said. "If they really like cookies or baseball they can made a commercial selling that." The commercials helped the budding actors fully understand and implement how each scene and every character needs to be connected to the who, what, where, when and why of what is happening.

A variety of games were played to give students a better comprehension of the 10 elements of acting. One game involved an instructor giving the students a scenario, and then it was up to the children to enact the scene. Another game was called Mosquitoes in the Jungle, which involved using different senses to tell a story and taught the young actors to use all five senses when acting.

To showcase the week's lessons, the students made a television show to mark the end of camp. Davidek loosely based the script off of iCarly. One child was Carly, picked from a hat, the rest of the kids were guests on the show. "They decided who they wanted to be based on their interests," Davidek said. "If they like dancing they could dance, if they like animals they could do that. We always try to go with what the kids are into." At the end of the week each student was given a DVD of their iCarly show and commercial.

Although the classes were intended for fun, Davidek said that she has had students who went on to get an agent and do television commercials. "One student from one of my Long Island classes, Ben Hyland, was one of the sons in the movie 'Marley & Me'" (starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston).

Autumn hopes that the formal instruction will help her pursue her dreams. "I've never taken a class before," she said. "I've tried to be in a play, but I didn't get in."
"After taking this class, I'm going to audition for stuff again," she said

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