NIU hosts theatre workshop for local high schools


Jerry Burnes | Northern Star A group of high school students practice improv in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre Friday afternoon.

By Shelby Devitt

DeKalb, Sycamore, Byron, Sandwich and Hiawatha high schools sent students interested in improving their theatre skills to attend a day-long theatre workshop Friday in the Stevens Building.

The workshop, taught by NIU graduate students in the schools of theatre and dance, offered several sessions of classes for the high school students to take, including costuming, acting, makeup, dance, musical theatre, acting on camera, cold reading auditions, stage combat and improvisation.

“You can take classes that are more just for fun or classes that can help you,” said Sandwich High School senior A.J. Jennings.

Joel Moses, second-year graduate student, taught two classes on cold reading auditions.

“The kids seem to enjoy being here. They have a lot of energy and interest,” Moses said. “We had a wide spectrum of types of kids, from shy to boisterous extroverts. It’s fun to see them interact. Theater is a great place for all types of personalities to intermingle and mesh.”

Second-year graduate student Nick Ferrucci ran the event Friday.

“We end up recruiting some kids because of this. We also want to promote NIU plays because it’s important to spread art through the community. It’s good education even if they aren’t going to do theatre in the future,” Ferrucci said.

Many of the high school students attended NIU Theater Day in previous years, which has been hosted for at least the past 10 years, Ferrucci said.

“This is my second year,” said McKenzie Sauer Sandwich High School junior. “I love it. I like how we can learn about theatre and bring it back to school with us.”

The cast of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance production of The Winter’s Tale performed a segment of the show for the high school students in the morning.

“I think it’s a good thing the university does for high school students,” Moses said. “When you’re in high school theatre, you have a small window of the world, and it’s good to work with older artists, have a chance to pick up tips and techniques. I think at that age, the best thing theatre can do for you is get you out of your shell and make you comfortable and develop your personality. That’s what it did for me.”