I moved from New York City to the backhills of Kentucky. No, I didn’t have family there. I wasn’t raised there and in fact, when I was growing up, there was a general attitude in my hometown that people from Kentucky were dirty and stupid. Frankly, they’re anything but. Appalachia is filled with simple, honest, sincere, unique folks and many of the central towns and cities artistic
and sophisticated. Louisville has reinvented its industrial persona to hip and contemporary, particularly in the downtown area. Frankly, I moved to Kentucky because it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and land was affordable. The mountains, streams and knoblands exert energy like the streets of New York, but in a natural, gentle way. But the truth is, where I chose to live back then, there were little arts at all. So, I did what artists do, I created art in my community. In this case, filling a particularly chilling void of arts for kids.
I believe the arts are integral to human development. So I founded a theatre training program for kids. And if you think working with kids is different from working with adults, you’re right. Only you’re wrong, too. The right part is they’re kids. The wrong part is that the same techniques we develop as professional theatre artists, whether actors, writers, directors or designers, are the same you develop with kids. That is if you want to get something good out of them on stage. Like adults, some kids present a natural strength in the arts, some don’t, but like everyone, old or young, kids can progress from one level to another wherever their starting point. Directors working with kids generally fail to get what they want from their youthful actors because they fail to realize they can. It’s about respect and creating a playfully disciplined environment where quality of work is stressed and the occasional rolling of the eyes at you, or rolling across the floor for that matter, is ignored. A good director knows a roll across the floor works for kids as well as adults. So the next time you’re working with kids, start each rehearsal with warm-ups and play some theatre games and exercises. The adults in the cast will love it.