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Photos and article by Alexis Rico

Santa Fe Opera teaching artist Charles Gamble lead three different theater workshops for a variety of age groups at the Silver City Public Library. Workshops for children and teens were held on Thursday, June 7, 2018, and a workshop for adults held was held on Friday, June 8, 2018.

Charles Gamble is a teaching artist with the Santa Fe Opera who trained in physical theater at L’Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, at the Roy Hart Institute for Voice in Malérargues, France, and at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Gamble has been teaching for 22 years and thoroughly enjoys the art of improvisation acting.

“This is a little different type of improvisation’” Gamble stated. “It causes one to improvise and think about it in a more literal sense.”

Gamble believes this type of acting helps people to connect with things in the world. Gamble is currently teaching drama at New Mexico School for the Arts and manages the Active Learning Through Opera outreach program for the Santa Fe Opera.

The children theater workshop, called “The Agile Improvised Odyssey”, consisted of two hours where children created and staged their own original play with makeup and costumes. The children took a few acting lessons at the beginning of the workshop to learn about improvisation.

The play consisted of mystical creatures that lived in the rainforest with two main characters journeying to save the rainforest with the help of several different creatures. Many of the lines were improvised by the children as well as each character in the play was created by the people playing them. At the end of the workshop, many of the children agreed that the hardest part of the play was using their imaginations and making up their own words to say. They also agreed that the fun part was acting the play out.

Teens were able to participate in the “Improv for Discovery” workshop. The workshop concentrated on techniques from theatrical improvisation and movement.

The main goal of the workshop was to develop the teens’ intrinsic curiosity, creativity, and to help them make connections with others. Some of the activities used included “The Martha” which is a commonly used acting technique used around the world and finishing one another’s sentences. The teens were challenged with improvising and inputting ideas that would help complete a story. They had to connect with each other and work as a team throughout the workshop as many working actors have to do on sets.

“Whatever you say is true,” Gamble told the teens. “Just say it with confidence.”

An Introduction to Larval Masks workshop was held for adults. Larval masks originated in Basel, Switzerland during the 1960s. The masks are often used to help actors simplify and amplify their choices when they are acting. The masks are large and do not have much detail. The workshop challenged to adult class to use the masks in simple/non-speaking improvisations.

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