LOGANSPORT — Ten-year-old Sophia Rozzi stepped confidently forward to introduce herself to the impromptu audience gathered Saturday morning at McHale Pavilion in Riverside Park.
She was the oldest of five girls who signed up for a free children’s theater workshop put on by the Cass County Arts Alliance. Sophia, along with two 5-year-olds, a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old, followed their introductions with a short skit called “The Candy Shop” under the direction of Lisa Terry, the arts alliance executive director.
Two volunteers from the audience held up a long pole to act as the make-believe candy counter. The girls faked excitement and chagrin as they asked Terry, the candy shop owner, for several candies — none of which Terry had.
Finally, Terry confessed: “All I’ve got is two suckers on a stick!”
The joke was on the audience volunteers.
Terry said the arts alliance decided to hold two free theater workshops as a way to give back to the community. Saturday’s was the first, and Terry spent the first 90 minutes teaching theatrical skills like voice projection, articulation and stage movement.
“I teach them the correct word and then I just show them,” she said.
Once the children grasped rudimentary acting techniques, Terry had them do exercises and critique one another.
Something as simple as a group bowing at the end of a performance takes work, Terry said.
“People think we just did that,” she added. “We practiced that for 20 minutes.”
Practices like pressing the thumb and middle finger together and pretending to push down on the floor with one’s feet helped the girls overcome nerves and the fidgets, Terry said.
Once she finished coaching the girls, Terry rallied a few chance passersby to sit for the short performance of “The Candy Shop,” a skit she learned as a child.
After the workshop, some of the girls said they aspired to be movie stars.
“I love to act, and I love to sing and dance,” said Sophia, who has participated in the Junior Civic Players in Logansport for the past five years. “It’s just my life. It’s all I do.”
Other girls said “being funny” and pretending to be a cowgirl had drawn them to acting.
After about 35 years of working with children’s theater, Terry is convinced that acting helps children develop their creativity and self-esteem.
“All it takes is imagination,” she said. “You can pretend you are dressed up like the Queen of England. You can pretend you are dressed like Charlie Chaplin.”
And imagination is important, Terry said.
“Imagination leads to creative problem-solving,” she said. “Without imagination, where are our poets and inventors going to come from?”
• Sarah Einselen is a staff reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.