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Learn How To Act Here in Alexandria

Thirty years ago, Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) started teaching acting classes. Last week, yet another season of acting classes opened and Roland Gomez, governor of education for LTA, said that the group has some very talented instructors lined up to teach the classes.

“Nowhere can you get the quality of classes for the money that you can get here,” said Gomez.

Mike Baker will be teaching Advanced Scene Study, an advanced acting class. Baker’s credentials in acting, producing and teaching are extensive. He’s received seven Emmy awards and five National Telly awards for his work producing “American Dance,” “That’s Jazz,” “PBS Debate Night” and more.

Fortunately for the acting community, Baker doesn’t stop at his “day job.” He’s been in almost 40 plays in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I produce television in the morning, teach English at NOVA in the afternoon and act at night,” he said.

With this acting class lined up to start next Monday evening, Baker will add yet another star to his long list of accomplishments.

Baker plans to implement some of the techniques that he’s learned over his years of acting and producing.

“After watching a lot of bad acting, I’ve learned that there are certain things you can do to be a better actor,” said Baker. “Sometimes I wish that I could take them aside and point some things out.”

One of the things that Baker said he’s learned in teaching English is that most people don’t know where the stress points are in a sentence. Take the case of, “Run, there’s a fire.” Do you put the emphasis on “run” or “fire?” What Baker will do with the students during his first class is to have them memorize a monologue and then “improvise within the line.” By taking the same sentence, they can effectively change the meaning just by rearranging the emphasis.

STUDENTS WHO ENROLL in the class titled “Getting into the Business of Film, Radio & Television” will also get somebody with years of experience in this business. Jim Choate is one of the top television and film casting agents in this area. He has cast hundreds of commercials and industrial films. As film casting director for The Erickson Agency between 1998 and 2000, he was involved in the D.C. metro area casting for “Enemy of the State,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Hollowman” and “Hannibal.” He’s cast several shows for New Dominion Pictures and is currently starting his own casting company and talent agency.

The class he’s teaching will focus on how to get into the business. Students will learn how to get pictures and resumes ready, how to contact agents and casting directors, how to audition, what unions to join and how to prepare audition material.

Other classes for adults include Acting I, taught by Frank D. Shutts II; Improvisation, taught by Sarah Holt; Singing for the Stage & Beyond, taught by Beverley Brenda; and Broadway & Theatre Jazz, taught by Amy Carson. Shakespeare Made Simple is taught by Frank D. Shutts II, but it’s not a course on acting Shakespeare. Rather, it’s a course for the average Joe who wants to understand Shakespeare just a little better.

For children, there is a series of classes as well. Children in kindergarten through second grade can take Creative Drama for the Very Young, with Liz Owens. This class provides a basic knowledge of acting techniques and stage movement. For children in third through fifth grade, Creative Drama by Katherine Dillaber is for them. In this class, students will be introduced to the world of theater through games, improvisation and scene work.

Middle-schoolers can take Kim Smith’s Theatre Workshop Studio for Middle School and learn about acting, directing, makeup, costuming, stage combat and classical theater, while teens can sign up for Katherine Dillaber’s Performance Production for Teens and work on scenes utilizing character analysis.

All classes are held at LTA, 600 Wolfe St. Some classes have already started, but there may still be space. Call 703-683-5778, Ext. 2, or visit thelittletheatre.com.