Partnering with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation's mission to keep the arts alive in schools, the Emerald Coast Theatre Company is hosting several workshops for children of all ages starting this month.
"There are no skills required for the workshops," said Nathanael Fisher, producing artistic director. "Kids just need a willingness to try something new. We play a lot of theater games, build communication and social skills as well as build confidence."
Fisher, who is also an adjunct theatre professor at University of West Florida and Gulf Coast State College, founded Emerald Coast Theatre Company with his wife, Anna, a Destin native, after moving to Santa Rosa Beach last year.
Seeing an unmet need in educational theater programs, Nathanael and Anna decided to expand the arts to younger audiences. Both have academic and professional backgrounds in acting and theatre. Nathanael has an M.F.A. in Acting from Regent University and Anna holds a Master's in Theatre Studies from Regent.
No matter if a child has dreams of being a star, important life lessons can come from the stage.
"Communication skills are the biggest asset," Nathanael said. "More often than not, those skills come in handy. Theater teaches children to be comfortable with one's body and social skills — learning to relate to others."
The 2014 spring classes begin Jan. 25 with a musical workshop, screen acting for teens and tweens and production workshops for the kiddos.
Partnering with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation is Alice in Wonderland at Destin Middle School and Fractured Fairytales at Destin Elementary School. Children do not have to be students in the respective schools to sign up for the programs. Be on the lookout for 2014 Summer Camps too.
As a teacher, Nathanael said he's seen firsthand the positive effects of the stage. Rewarding moments, he said, are when those shy, quiet students end up gaining the confidence to boldly get on stage.
"I've had so many parents come to me after a show to say how their child has built confidence," he said. "It's exciting for me to their faces when their child takes the stage."
For more information on classes, visit www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org or facebook.com/ECTheatreCompany.