LIVINGSTON -- Bridget Connor-Feldbaum has taught adult acting classes in the past.
This summer, she’s giving teenagers a shot.
The South Branch of the Livingston Parish Library System is hosting its first-ever teen drama camp this summer, with youth services coordinator Connor-Feldbaum spearheading the six-week program.
Every Monday at 2 p.m. from June 19 through July 24, the participating teenagers will learn basic acting and improvisational techniques while also preparing for a play under the direction of Connor-Feldbaum, who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in interdisciplinary arts.
The drama camp will culminate in a final showcase that will be open to the public immediately following the last rehearsal July 24, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the South Branch, located at 23477 La. Hwy. 444 in Livingston.
And the best part about the program — no previous acting experience is required.
“You’re all going to look ridiculous,” Connor-Feldbaum said as she and the teenagers danced together in a circle to warm up for last Monday’s rehearsal. “So we’ll all look ridiculous together.”
Though Connor-Feldbaum has taught acting classes for the library system in the past, those were primarily for adults, and she said she initially worried about how much interest a teen drama camp would draw.
But she didn’t have to worry for long.
The drama camp filled up fast as 15 teenagers ages 12-16 from all over the parish decided to test their acting chops in the summer program, which will teach them how to work in an ensemble as well as how to perform speeches and monologues before an audience.
For the final showcase, the teens will act out a play Connor-Feldbaum adapted from Allan Wolf’s “The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic,” a fictionalized account of the sinking of the famed cruise liner.
Connor-Feldbaum said she wanted to find a play that would give each kid at least one decently-sized monologue to perform, and since Wolf’s piece is a verse novel that almost reads “like little poems,” it felt like the perfect match.
After the rehearsal on Monday, June 26, the teens in her drama camp seemed to agree.
“I can feel the titanic right there,” said teenager Jordan Calcote moments after a trio delivered a dramatic sight reading of one of Wolf’s verses.
With Connor-Feldbaum leading and taking part in every activity herself, the group spent the first half of the class doing stretches and vocal exercises to loosen up. They shook their shoulders and hips, danced together in a circle and in groups of three, practiced breathing techniques and even played a few theater and improvisational games.
The key to improvisation, Connon-Feldbaum said, is to just say “yes.”
“You can’t anticipate what’s coming,” she told the teens during one of the games. “Improv is a very in-the-moment type of thing.”
In the second half of the class, the teens broke off into three groups and performed snippets of Wolf’s book, giving Connor-Feldbaum a chance to see what parts would best fit with each participant.
With only three boys registered for the class, some of the girls will have to play male roles in the final showcase — but none seem too bothered by it as they proudly performed the readings assigned to them.
On July 3, Connor-Feldbaum will assign roles to the 15 teens in the program, giving them four full rehearsals to prepare for the final showcase in late July.
But they’ll have plenty of time to get ready, and plenty of time to learn.
“That’s the great thing about theater — we all have something to learn,” Connor-Feldbaum said before the class ended.