By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
Kidstage gave Lukas Poischbeg the skills to be a leader.
As assistant stage manager, he does the daily rehearsal reports, tracks time to make sure rehearsal schedules are running smoothly and makes many copies of rewritten scripts to assure that everyone is literally on the same page.
Keep in mind Lukas is 13.
Lukas has also learned other skills at Kidstage not related to theater. Probably the most important skill was gaining the confidence to confront one of the scourges of teenage life: bullying.
Lukas said before he found Kidstage his life was miserable.
“I got teased by people who thought they were better than me, and at the time I thought they were.” Lukas said.
He said Kidstage built up his confidence and gave him support.
“I’ve been chased, I’ve been pushed, I’ve been screamed at, and I’ve been bullied, and I’ve been afraid for my safety,” Lukas said. “But because of Kidstage I learned to be me.”
Kidstage, a Village Theatre program, offers performance classes where students learn theater skills. Kidstage also teaches critical life skills,
Confidence building is a big one. Self-esteem is another.
Just look at the success story that is Chance Eldridge, 17, of Everett.
Chance is the youngest of seven children. His parents worked a lot when he was growing up, but Chance bonded with an older sister. They were “best friends, attached at the hip,” he said.
When Chance was 9, his sister ran away, got involved in drugs, then came back home with serious issues.
“She wasn’t the person I knew,” Chance said.
He found it hard to trust after that until he found Kidstage.
“It’s hard for me to trust people because of my sister, but because of Kidstage they taught me I can’t get in the way of myself anymore,” Chance said. “And I won’t let this get in my way anymore. I was hurt, but that shouldn’t define who I am.”
In Kidstage theater classes, students learn how to problem solve, to collaborate, to concentrate; they learn a strong work ethic and how to speak in front of a group.
The kids in Kidstage each told their stories in one-minute monologues during a recent rehearsal to prepare for a youth benefit concert in Issaquah called “Sing It Forward.”
Mitch Baker, 14, an Everett High School student, has been in Kidstage for four years and said Kidstage helped to form him.
“Honestly I don’t know the kind of person I would be without Kidstage, but I’m happy with the person I am because of it, and in the end that’s all that matters,” Mitch said.
Some Kidstage kids may be on a path to a lifetime of performing; others are learning skills to improve their futures or learning to make tough decisions that might change their futures.
Meagan Moffat has been in Kidstage since she was 9. She said she had been heading directly to a performance career, but now 18, she realizes that she loves something else besides theater: working with special education kids.
“When I am with them I feel a sense of purpose,” Meagan said. “I listened to myself and chose a path right for me.”
Meagan is now enrolled at a community college taking classes to get her started as a special education teacher.
“I will always love performing, but I’m going to be a special education teacher, and I couldn’t be more happy,” Meagan said.
Kidstage helps students in financial ways as well, opening its doors to the less fortunate. Students in need are given scholarships to attend classes. About a third of the 16 kids who showed up for the “Sing It Forward” rehearsal were on scholarship, said Kati Nickerson, Kidstage director of youth education.
When 15-year-old Beth El Fatal joined last year, she said she didn’t have a ton of confidence and was “horrible at dancing” and didn’t have a lot of support from home, except from her mom. Beth really wanted to be in the Kidstage production of “Pirates of Penzance.”
“But I realized it would be too hard financially for my family and I decided not to audition,” Beth said.
Kidstage came up with a scholarship for Beth. She did her audition and got into the show.
“If somebody can do that for you, give you something so special, that you really wanted, for free, how amazing is that?” Beth said.
Kidstage may play that positive role in the community that anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath wrote about in her study “Youth Development and the Arts in Nonschool Hours.”
In studying kids who participate in after-school arts programs, Heath found that kids “exhibited an intensity of certain characteristics, including motivation, persistence, critical analysis and planning.”
Highly motivated Eric Bayn, 18, of Everett said his passion is theater.
“Kidstage has helped me follow my dreams,” Eric said. “They gave me the tools to go down the path I wanted to get to.”
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Classes have started for the fall, but there is still space available. Classes include “Early Acting: Literature and Life Skills” and “Fundamental Acting and Musical Theater.”
Students learn creative dramatics, music and movement and familiar story themes. The curriculum encourage collaboration and communication, respect and healthy and constructive behavior choices.
Classes are held at Second Stage and Everett Youth Education Center, 2730 Wetmore Ave., Everett. For more information or to enroll go to www.villagetheatre.org/.