WEST CHESTER — Next weekend, the West Chester Studio for the Performing Arts will offer up its first performance with an evening of one-act plays featuring actors from third grade through high school.
The performances, held on June 9 and 10, are being co-presented by the Uptown! Entertainment Alliance along with the studio and will be held at the Chester County Historical Society.
This first production will feature three one-act plays including “Taboo” by Kimberly Burke, which takes a closer look at bullying.
“It helps you realize what the extreme of bullying can be,” said Brindley Knowles, one of the actresses in the play.
The actors said the subject matter has helped draw them closer together despite different personalities and take a closer look at bullying. Some of the actors described their encounters with bullying that have affected people they know, causing some students to even change schools.
Actors agreed that cyber bullying has also become a problem in recent years, with students going as far as posting fake profiles of other students on social media sites.
“There is just so much we’re exposed to,” said Emma Goodstein, another actress in “Taboo.”
Studio Director Therese Walden-Murphy said she decided on the one-act plays after gathering feedback from the students.
“The kids had said they didn’t want to do a musical and that they wanted to be real actors and learn how to be really strong actors,” Walden-Murphy said. “So I said OK, I’m going to get you guys some material and I started reading and thought the best way to give more kids an opportunity to have substantial lines and parts was if I chose a bunch of one-acts.”
Walden-Murphy said the benefit of a one-act play like “Taboo” is that it approaches topics that these actors are dealing with in their schools.
“They all play kids; nobody plays an adult,” Walden-Murphy said. “They get to be what they are instead of something that they’re not which I think helps encourage better acting because they just have to be themselves.”
The studio opened about a year and a half ago and just began offering classes.
“We’re trying to encourage more performances in the borough with the idea of having a theater one of these days,” said Jim Salvas of Uptown! “We see this as a way to help reach families and that’s why we’re involved.”
In addition to “Taboo,” the studio will also perform “But We Don’t” by Allen Haehnel, which shows actors exploring the reasons people hold themselves back from accomplishing their goals including peer pressure, social acceptability, fear, procrastination and pride.
The evening will open with the one-act play “Live! It’s Fairy Tale News” performed by the youngest actors, third- and fourth-graders. This play takes a look at what is happening lately with fairy tales such as the “Three Little Pigs,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Walden-Murphy said “Taboo” and “But We Don’t” will run about 35 minutes each and “Live! It’s Fairy Tale News” will be about 10 to 15 minutes.
The historical society is at 225 N. High St. in West Chester. The performance on Saturday will be at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday will be a matinée at 2 p.m.
Tickets to the event can be found by visiting http://www.uptownwc.org or westchesterstudio.com. Tickets are $8 for a child or student and $10 for adults if ordered before the show, but increase to $10 and $12 at the door. Children under 3 are admitted free.