JCC offers expanded theater opportunities locally for all ages

Coming soon to your neighborhood, Jewish Community Center (JCC) Chicago's Young Actors Ensemble presents new classes and expanded locations, beginning this September! Acting and theater enthusiasts of all ages are invited to register now take part in a variety of classes, in Skokie, Northbrook, Rogers Park, and Hyde Park.

"We wanted to create more opportunities for kids interested in theater," said Robert Bouwman, JCC Children's Theater Manager. JCC Young Actors Ensemble (YAE) youth performance group produces 3-4 plays and musicals per year, which require daily rehearsals over a period of several months. "Independent classes offer more one-on-one time for teaching and skill development and provide a taste of theater for those who may not be able to commit the time for an entire production run," said Bouwman.

Classes will be taught by theater professionals and actors. Each seven-week class will end with a performance showcase. Little Movers and Shakers, designed specifically for kids aged 3-5, introduces theater through music, puppets, stories, and games to facilitate creative development. Exploring the Art of Acting, for 3rd - 6th graders, will use children's literature and storytelling to inspire creation of original plays and promote imaginative thinking through theatre games. Creative Drama, for 7th - 12th graders (experience and audition required), emphasizes script analysis, character development, relationships, and stage presence, in addition to a focus on classic authors such as Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare, and Edward Albee. "J"-prov!, JCC's popular improvisation workshop, is back for the third year. 5th - 12th grades will learn how to build an ensemble, create interesting characters, sketch comedy, and explore improvisation techniques, in a fun, supportive environment.

"There's a long tradition of using theater to explore Judaism and Jewish identity," said Bouwman. "Theater has been influenced by renowned Jewish directors, playwrights, actors, characters, and even theatergoers. Through these expanded class offerings, we're nurturing and guiding the next generation of vibrant Jewish theater."

This fall marks Bouwman's third year managing JCC Children's Theater. The new classes are part of several innovations he has brought to the JCC Theater program, including improv classes, JCC's first sci-fi musical (Bouwman's original work, Mileep and the Attack of the Jellybean People), unique costumes and sets, and increased adult participation. He has written, directed, and performed in over 50 original plays, including musicals for children and a one-man show in Scotland, and is the co-founder and artistic director of Corn Productions, a storefront theater in Chicago.

Classes begin at the end of September and run through November. Visit gojcc.org/theater for specific dates and locations. Upcoming JCC Young Actors Ensemble productions include, The Aantsy Aardvark, January 24-Feb 3, 2013, and Once Upon a Mattress, May 2-12. Auditions for The Aantsy Aardvark will take place November 12, 13, and 15; for details, contact Robert Bouwman at rbouwman@gojcc.org or call 847.763.3514.

About the JCC's Young Actors Ensemble
The JCC Young Actors Ensemble and the JCC Theater department are unique from many other children's theaters because of the steps taken to make participation accessible for all children. Committed to include the entire Jewish community, the troupe never rehearses or performs on Shabbat or religious holidays. For details, visit www.gojcc.org/theater.

About Jewish Community Center of Chicago
JCC Chicago is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring a strong and vibrant Jewish life and community for generations to come. Bringing Jewish values to life to more than 24,000 participants, more than 1.4 million times each year, JCC Chicago touches, engages and connects all segments of the Jewish community at all ages and at all stages of life.

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