20 April 2023

Twyford Hall hosting school holiday theatre workshops for South Coast's next generation of actors

| James Day
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Group of kids in funny poses

The Twyford Hall theatre workshop program is running daily from 9 am to 4 pm until Thursday (20 April). Photo: Lis Shelley.

Merimbula’s Twyford Hall is hosting a three-day theatre workshop this week for South Coast children on school holidays, to inspire more applicants for the Far South Film Festival to be held in August.

While the first day has passed for the 8-12-year-old group, Region had the opportunity to speak with organiser Lis Shelley about what else the program has to offer over the coming days for those who sign up.

Each day begins with warm-ups for the voice and body “because it’s important that actors, big or small, relax into their roles”, says Lis, manager of Twyford Hall. She adds that there will be “lots of silly stuff to make it as fun as possible for the kids” and so they can get to know each other, as many of them will be coming from all over the South Coast and beyond.

Yesterday’s 8-12-year-old group focused on character development, but today will feature the musical theatre workshop Search for the Sparkle, run by Corinne Starr. Starr is a well-known local musician from Discover Your Voice who previously toured the world as a singer-songwriter with legendary acts such as Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Phil Collins and Justin Timberlake. She contacted Lis after running an adult singing workshop earlier this year, asking if she could give the children an opportunity to learn from her as she’d done in previous roles with other mentoring programs throughout Indonesia, Australia and India.

woman with guitar and kids

Corinne Starr brings decades of experience as a music tutor and world-class performer to her workshop at Twyford Hall today (18 April). Photo: Lis Shelley.

On Wednesday (19 April), the 12-16-year-olds will do more structured scene work while learning improvisational tactics because, according to Lis, ”if there’s one thing that will save an actor on stage, it’s improvisation”.

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The last session, on Thursday, will host the 16-18-year-olds, who are doing short-scene work with a focus on the differences between theatre and screen acting.

“In the theatre, you’re quite a long way away from the audience, but on screen you could have your face right up to the camera, so subtlety is an important factor,” Lis says.

This last age group will also be given a training session on how to make a show reel. Lis says many of those children will be applying from regional areas to tertiary institutions such as NIDA or the VCA, so gaining experience on this part of the process will hopefully make it a little less scary for them.

woman with flower in her hair

Twyford Hall manager and co-director of the Far South Film Festival, Lis Shelley, hopes the program will bring the region’s creative children back into action after years of disruptions. Photo: Lis Shelley.

As co-director of the Far South Film Festival, Lis also hopes to convince a new swathe of young applicants from the program to help fulfil the festival’s goal of continuing to develop a regional film industry.

“Lots of people come out from the cities to make films here, but this festival is dedicated to, and by, those from the Far South regions,” she says.

”The big film festivals are great but tend to be overtaken by A-listers during show reels, so it’s good to have some genuine local talent.”

One of the conditions of entry for contributors is for at least two of the key creatives involved in the process to be from or live in the region they’re filming.

Starting in 2020, the first two years of the festival were online due to COVID, and last year was hybrid, but this year it is in-person on the weekend of 19 August in Merimbula. The theatre program had its own disruptions due to the pandemic, but Lis hopes that the success of this year’s program will allow her to run something every school holidays.

“I think after COVID people were reluctant to get back together again despite being able to,” she says.

”We did try a few online workshops and they were OK, but I think the kids were so sick of looking at a screen for school, they didn’t really want to do the same for fun stuff as well.”

Each of the workshops runs from 9 am to 4 pm and costs $100. For more information and bookings, visit here or call The Twyford on (02) 6495 7435. StageFlight is a Creative Kids provider and vouchers expiring on 30 June, 2023, can be used. For more information and bookings, visit here.

To get involved in the Far South Film Festival, applicants must register through this link. Lis notes that there are a few important conditions and entry rules to read through first, but applicants can contact the organisation for help with the process.

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