Lacie Black, instructor with the Drifting Theater, talks with future actors about method acting during summer actor training program at the Renaissance Theater in preparation for "How to Speak Bird". Photo by Ned Jilton II
Students in Kingsport Theatre Guild’s Summer Actor Training Program are rehearsing for the debut performance of the new adventure-comedy “How To Speak Bird — a Russian Fairytale.”
Shows will begin at 2 and 7 p.m., June 29 and 30 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center. Tickets are $10.
Playwright Alaska Reece Vance put the finishing touches on her script about a month ago, after three months of drafting. It is based on the Russian fairy tale “Language of the Birds.”
In the drama, a young man named Ivan dreams of speaking the language of the birds. Other children mock and bully him, but he pursues his goal, befriends the birds and learns to communicate with them. His new skill lands him on a ship with an all-female crew of bumbling pirates who discover a band of flower children and save a princess. When Ivan learns to disregard the hateful opinions of the villagers, he is freed to a life of adventure and even gets to fly with the birds.
Vance’s The Drifting Theatre Company partners with Kingsport Theatre Guild to host the Summer Actor Training Program each summer at the Rennaissance Center.
RaChelle L.C. Archer, Kingsport Theatre Guild’s artistic director, said this training program is unique in that students learn from professional actors in a classroom setting before daily rehearsals.
“That’s helped them in their acting careers by helping give them the skills they need and building a solid foundation in their acting careers,” she said.
Now in its 66th season, Kingsport Theatre Guild produces family-friendly entertainment and hosts classes and workshops throughout the year.
“We are here to bring the community together through the theater arts,” Archer said.
The Drifting Theatre Company is a professional touring group with paid actors who have degrees or significant theater experience.
“Together, it’s really nice because community members get to learn from professionals,” said Vance, The Drifting Theatre Company’s artistic director.
Vance said that some of the summer camp’s students have never acted at all, while others are regular members of either The Drifting Theatre Company or Kingsport Theatre Guild.
“Our teachers have a lot of experience making students comfortable that have never done it before and building their self-confidence,” Vance said. “Our new students are really blossoming under their teachers.”
Classes in the summer program are open to students ages 3-7, 7-12 and 12-18. The older age groups practice five days a week for two weeks, and the younger children practice two days a week for two weeks.
All 32 students enrolled in the program will participate in the two “How to Speak Bird” performances, which last about 1 hours each.
Maggie Crowson is designing costumes for the show, and students’ parents are helping assemble them. Archer is responsible for sound design and dance choreography. Chad Rasor is designing the set and choreographing the fight scene.
Tickets are available online at www.kingsporttheatre.org or at the Renaissance Center.
For more information, call Kingsport Theatre Guild at (423) 392-8427.