On Stage

Class Act

New year, new you

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

If this is the year you’ve finally decided to hack your way out of the shell of shyness you’ve been hiding inside, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that taking an acting class may be one of the best ways to do so.

For example, when I signed up for an introductory improv workshop with Sheila Goldsmith of Improv Playworks (http://www.improvplayworks.com) many years ago, I wasn’t prepared for it to alter the trajectory of my life. I had a theater minor, but hadn’t put it to use for more than a decade when I learned the benefits of saying yes, listening to my fellow students, and making active choices. I also discovered true teamwork is the key to a great scene.

One class turned into a series of them, and when Goldsmith teamed up with world-famous actor and improviser Ryan Stiles to help open the Upfront Theatre, it wasn’t long before I was onstage with many of my fellow classmates on a regular basis.

Thing is, you don’t have to take an improv or acting class with the end goal of performing. Many people discover the positive effects of becoming more comfortable in their skin outweigh those of wanting to be in the spotlight, and ultimately enhance the quality of their everyday lives. They become better public speakers, are able to deal with curveballs and are more apt to forgive their own mistakes.

With the new year in sight, many local theater companies are currently seeking students for upcoming classes. Goldsmith—who’s been running Improv Playworks since leaving the Upfront—will host an introductory workshop on Wed., Jan. 15 before a new series of classes start up.

At the Upfront (http://www.theupfront.com), a variety of classes will begin in January, many of them catering to beginners and those looking to get out of their own heads and learn more about spontaneous creation. Theatrical improv, musical improv and more are also on the horizon.

Other organizations with creativity on the agenda include the youth-focused Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth (http://www.baay.org), the Sylvia Center for the Arts (http://www.sylviacenterforthearts.org), Fairhaven’s Bellingham Circus Guild (http://www.bellinghamcircusguild.com), and Anacortes Community Theatre’s all-ages Class Act programs (http://www.acttheatre.com).

If time onstage is important to you, all of the aforementioned venues include opportunities for students to shine, and most offer continued support in the vein of advanced classes and mentorship. But if it’s change you’re looking for, remember that a new year brings the chance for you to redefine your own trajectory, whether it’s under the spotlight, or as a star in your own life. Either way, you’ll be a winner.

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