National Players bring the stage to the classroom

The National Players encourage CHS drama students to play improv games to sharpen their acting skills. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

America’s longest-running touring theatre company, National Players, performed The Diary of Anne Frank at The Paramount on Tuesday, December 3, as part of the Arts Education Program. The afternoon and day after the performance found the National Players conducting a variety of workshops with Drama and English classes at Charlottesville High School (CHS), impacting nearly 200 students, most of whom attended the play.

The National Players offer seven different workshops, three of which they brought to CHS: “Text in Context” and “Word to Action: Playwriting,” conducted in English classes, and “Acting and Improv,” conducted in first-year Drama classes.

Matt Merline of the National Players conducts a “Text in Context” workshop with a CHS English class. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

Cathy von Storch, The Paramount’s Education & Outreach Manager, said of the workshops conducted in English classes: “Students had a chance to get an inside look at the lives of the Players as actors and educators, discuss themes of the play and historical context, and engage in sharing their own stories through short writing exercises. They created one-act (3 line) plays, and did other activities to help contextualize understanding the events of the play, and draw connections between Anne’s world and their own.”

“Drama students learned some tricks of the trade from the Players,” von Storch added, “and they even had a chance to impress the Players with their own amazing talents!”

Cedrick L. Riggs, Jr. and Faith Ore of the National Players conduct an “Acting and Improv” workshop with CHS drama students. (Photo by Aaron Eichorst)

CHS theater representatives took to Twitter to thank The Paramount and National Players for “[providing] these amazing young people with both an incredibly powerful production of The Diary of Anne Frank…and two days of workshops with members of the [National Players] ensemble.”

The Diary of Anne Frank was just one of eleven live arts performances scheduled for area students during the 2019-20 school year. The Paramount Arts Education Program is committed to presenting the finest arts education performances for students in Central Virginia. A record-breaking 18,667 students and teachers attended Arts Education performances last year, and over 195,000 have attended since 2004. With the support of Arts Education Partners, The Paramount Theater is able to offer performances at a reduced cost or free of charge, thus ensuring that these programs are accessible to all students.