Finding the “Aha!” Moments and Growth Through Acting Class

Tania Thompson
 | Aug 29, 2016
Kristina works with Musical Theatre Students

Teacher Kristina Leach working with her students.

Teacher Diana Burbano with Student

​​Teacher Diana Burbano works on a scene with one of her students.

Kristina Leach and Diana Burbano are no strangers to the Theatre Conservatory having taught kids, teen and adult acting classes through the years. But, they’ve been away from the Kids and Teen Program for awhile. Until now. Both are returning this fall and look forward to helping students discover creativity and confidence— and to watch that “light bulb” go on when everything clicks into place.

What are you looking forward to as you return to work with kids and teens?

Diana Burbano: Kids are already so open and so willing to throw themselves into games and exercises without the least feeling of self consciousness. They are also extremely interesting people. I treat the kids as peers, because that’s how my favorite acting teachers treated me when I was young. I felt respected and consequently WANTED to do my best work.

Kristina Leach: I'm excited to meet the students. Each one has a unique personality and I love finding out who they are and why they chose theatre. 

Why are acting classes be so important for these ages?

DB: I believe that participating in acting classes at this age keeps kids open, more able to cope with surprises and things that may come out of left field. We ask them to try, to say yes, to improvise and to work things out without shutting down. Acting classes also help address anxiety issues. Getting on stage in front of people helps kids learn to deal with nerves in a friendly environment.

KL: In addition to learning how to be a character, acting classes help you learn how to be you. Beginning acting and second-year students get all the basics of acting skills—and much of that art is rooted in how to be comfortable in your own skin. That's something that is important at ANY age. 

What delights you most as an acting instructor?

DB: I am always floored by how creative and smart kids are. I remember one boy in particular, very shy, who had been bullied. He came into the class and felt real acceptance and love from his classmates. I always say acting is where certain kids find their “tribe.” 

KL: I love watching light bulbs go on. So many kids get into acting or theatre because they like to be on stage or they like to have some attention—but when they really "get it", when they're watching their fellow ensemble members and they learn from them? That is the best. And it really has nothing to do with me; it has everything to do with their journey as an artist. 

What do you appreciate most about the program at SCR?

DB: We have wonderful, talented kids and dedicated parents, and our teachers are the cream of the crop. All of us are working professionals, in the business, we know what we are doing and we love it.

KL: There is nothing like SCR—anywhere!  We treat our students like professionals. We expect the most from them and, nine times out of ten, they deliver. Years ago, I took classes at SCR (back before there was electricity and I drove there in a covered wagon), but the same philosophy applied then, as it does today​—we value process over product. We honor our own work and others. And, we respect our fellow ensemble members. I know of no other program for kids (or adults) that requires this level of professionalism from its artists. 

What should parents know about why acting classes here are great for the kids?

DB: They will make friends that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

KL: SCR's acting program doesn't just teach you how to be an actor. It cultivates those highly needed skills such as collaboration, dedication, honesty and problem​-solving. In addition, a student will learn to stand in front of people and deliver ideas in a clear, confident and concise way. As far as I'm concerned, an acting class at an early age can shape a young person for life.