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Learn Acting, Stage Combat, Playwriting and More This Summer

WCPA Theater

Bill Coleman performing as Cyrano de Bergerac

If you’re not paying attention, you would be surprised by the amount of theatrical activity that Wichita has to offer. It’s there, it’s lowkey, and is quite vibrant. The 470 seat theater located in the facility at 9112 E. Central has long been a key space in the history of Wichita performing arts. It was built in 1971 and has hosted countless performances over the decades. Just last year it was taken over by the youth-focused Wichita Center for Performing Arts, and this summer they are offering several classes on theater from acting to playwriting.

I met my wife at The Center for the Arts in 1997. We were cast as the love interest in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, and were married within a year, so the Center is inherently joyful to me,” says Bill Coleman, one of the instructors that will be teaching courses designed for Middle and High School aged children this summer at the WCPA. Bill, a seasoned performer himself who also teaches at Northfield School of Liberal Arts, will be offering a class on reading and performing Shakespeare for high schoolers. He’s joined by his wife, Sanda Coleman, a writer for KMUW teaching playwriting for middle school and up. Madi White, a certified stage combat choreographer offering stage combat workshops for 9-13 and 14-17-year-olds, and Cameron Carlson, a lifelong educator and founder of Carlson Acting & Performance Services (CAPS), who will be teaching introductory and advanced courses in acting.

The Bard

The Bard

Bill Coleman
Bill performed as Shakespeare at the Wichita Community Theater's celebration of Shakespear's birthday.

With a background in teaching, writing, and performance, the words of Shakespeare’s plays have a special place for Bill Coleman. “I love teaching and love especially teaching great words to great young people. Characters are made of words, and when the words are the ones Shakespeare found and made, and when those words are inhabited by creative, committed actors, the characters are as rich as life itself.”

Bill’s class, “The Play’s the Thing: Reading and Performing Shakespeare” starts in July and ends early August. With Bill’s help, students will dive into the scripts of the Bard, and learn to identify the textual clues that Shakespeare encoded into every line in order to help his actors. At the end of the sessions, students will perform thematically linked monologues and scenes.  

Reading and Performing Shakespeare

  • July 10-August 2
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday
  • 9am-10:30am
  • Ages: Grades 9-12
  • Instructor: Bill Coleman

Using Your Own Words

Using Your Own Words

Sanda Coleman
Sanda will be teaching Playwriting I

It’s one thing to stand up in front of a crowd and perform. It is another thing entirely when it is your story,  your words, getting put out there as well. Well no fear, because Sanda Coleman is here, bringing her years of award-winning writing experience with her, to build confidence for kids interested in putting their words in ink for performers and exercising their inner scribe.  

In her course, Playwriting I, students will study the basic elements of playwriting. Plot, character development, structures of scenes, and the overall arc of a play, will all be covered while students work on their own original monologues. Depending on how the summer goes, students may build those monologues into scenes and create a one-act or ten-minute play. The course is recommended for middle school students on up and starts July 10.

Playwriting I

  • July 10-August 2
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday
  • 10:30am-11:30am
  • Ages: Grades Middle School and up
  • Instructor: Sanda Coleman

En Guarde

En Guarde

Madi White
Madi will be teaching stage combat workshops.

For two weeks running May 29 to June 8, students can learn to put up their dukes and master the skills of safe punching, kicking, slipping, tripping, falling and everything else they need to know in order to safely do their best fake, but realistic, performances. Two separate classes will be offered, one for 9-13-year-olds and another for 14-17-year-olds.

The instructor, Madeleine White, is certified in single sword by The Society of American Fight Directors, received her degree in performing arts from WSU, and spends her days choreographing fight scenes.  She says by the end of this class, students should be capable of creating their own combat choreography scene.

Stage Combat Workshop

  • May 29 to June 8
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
  • 10:00-11:00 AM: Ages 9-13, limit 10
  • 11:00 AM -12:00 PM: Ages 14-17, limit 12
  • Instructor: Madi White

Leveling up Performance Skills

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Cameron Carlson

Cameron will be teaching acting with help from members of his company, CAPS

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CAPS Class

Students work on their lines in a CAPS workshop

“My main background is in performance-based assessments. For me, this summer is about getting informed feedback to kids,” says Cameron Carleson, a lifelong educator and founder of CAPS, a theater coaching and consulting group. “Our mission is ‘Building communities and connecting families through theater education', so it just makes sense for us to offer these group classes at a place like WCPA and let kids explore and get exposed to a wide array of acting experiences.”

Cameron’s acting classes are currently split into two sessions. An intro course in June for those just getting started that is focused on building confidence, and an advanced one in July for those who completed the June course, or who already have a little experience, but “really any skill level is invited to participate in the intro course. We’ll work on 1on1 scenes, group scenes, basic blocking, and of course, just having fun,” says Cameron, “the advanced course will continue to build the skills introduced in the previous month. I’d encourage kids to do both.” In addition to Cameron, there will be 2-3 other members from CAPS helping. Providing students with more possibilities for small group and 1on1 work with professionals.

Intro to Acting

  • June 5 to June 22
  • Tuesday through Friday
  • Elementary: 10-11:30AM
  • Middle School: 1:00-3:00PM
  • Instructor: Cameron Carlson with CAPS Instructors

Advanced Acting

  • July 10 to August 2
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • 10-11:30 AM
  • Prerequisite: Intro to Acting offered in June, or previous experience
  • Instructor: Cameron Carlson with CAPS Instructors

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