“If they hate it, they hate it; if they love it, they love it; and if they really love it, you know it means something special,” Kelsey Hopkins, Teaching Artist at the Columbus Children’s Theatre, remarks on the magic of working in theatre for a young audience. The children are a part of the performance; they fuel the energy, the laughs, and the lessons.
Columbus Children’s Theatre (CCT) is one of the fastest growing children’s theatres in the country, according to Kelsey. CCT offers classes, camps, tours, and shows for children of all ages and abilities to experience the art of acting and magic of theatre. Sensory friendly shows are also offered for kids living with autism or other special needs.
Fulfilling A Dream to Grow a Community
For Kelsey, working in the Columbus Children’s Theatre is the dream. A native of Columbus, Kelsey has traveled the United States in various professional theatre companies, spending time in New York, Colorado, Tennessee , and many other states before finding her way home. She emphasizes her amazement in Columbus’s growth since her youth. Once a fledgling community, she now sees a booming performing arts scene. “It’s really a place to make a life,” she shares with a warm smile.
Kelsey as Aunt Spiker in James and the Giant Peach. Photo by David Heasley.
Lessons Beyond The Stage
Often times children experience the magic of theatre for the first time in one of CCT’s shows. CCT and the actors who bring shows like James and the Giant Peach to life take this responsibility seriously. Each show offers thematic lessons like the importance of family or how bullying affects others. Families can continue their learning at home with a worksheet tailored to each play. Kelsey explains more subtle lessons to be gained at CCT: “Empathy, empathy, EMPATHY!” Kelsey emphasizes. Theatre allows young children a chance to place themselves in another’s shoes and begin to understand that other people have the same depth of emotions as they do. “They are able to share a journey with a character.”
Kelsey teaching a class at Columbus Children’s Theatre. Photo by Gracie Becker.
Kelsey is often told how over-animated she is when speaking: “I’m just using my face!” She expresses frustration with the world that would rather pick out the perfect emoji than express the same emotion on their face. Classes offered by CCT provide children with the skills to communicate their feelings effectively, both on stage and in daily life. Beyond just Acting 101, these classes focus on the development of each individual. Kelsey discusses how acting is about building self-confidence, learning how to effectively express oneself, discover how others fit into the world, and build teamwork. Through role play and other exercises, Teaching Artists, like Kelsey, help kids become more comfortable in their own skin.
Kelsey is excited to start touring with the Columbus Children’s Theater and share theatre with more kids across the state. “Every kid should take at least one class. You don’t have to want to be an actor!” she impresses. Ready to get your kid involved? Visit http://www.columbuschildrenstheatre.org/ for more information!