Acting for the fun of it

Nocatee drama camp embraces child’s creative side

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Sheri Lahris has been involved in the acting industry for decades, but what she enjoys most is anytime she gets the opportunity to work with children.

Her passion for teaching art of acting led to her partnering with the First Coast Cultural Center introducing the Nocatee Drama Camp for the first time this summer.

The camp will be held on Mondays and Fridays throughout June and July from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Care Connect+ located at the Flagler Health+ Village in Nocatee.

“I have 35 years in the business, and in the ‘90s I worked for Disney and MGM Studios,” Lahris said. “I worked with the Mickey Mouse kids and on ‘Saved by the Bell.’”

Some of the actors and actresses she has worked with include Macaulay Culkin, Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling.

According to Lahris, the majority of drama camps take a progressive approach with the goal of adding new elements that will eventually lead up to a performance at the end of camp.

However, her camp will be different because it will not end with a performance, and as a result parents can sign their children up for either the entire camp or pick and choose which days during the two months work best with their summer schedules.

“Kids don’t have a lot of time to do make-believe and just be creative with their friends,” Lahris said. “This will allow them to explore that side.”

The camp is open for children ages 8 to 17.

Parents have asked Lahris in the past why she prefers such a wide age range, and her answer has remained the same.

“If you’re watching any film or show, you can see that there are all ages performing in them,” Lahris said. “It’s fun to watch the interactions between the different age groups.”

She believes that not having a performance will take some of the pressure off of the children and allow them to put all their focus into properly learning the skill of acting and do so while not forgetting to have fun.

“Kids are just naturals,” Lahris said. “As adults we may not want to say of do something, but kids just say what their thinking.”

Some of the fun exercises where children can showcase their creativity include saying their phone number as if they were mad at someone or as if they had won the lottery.

Such exercises can have a huge impact on helping traditionally shy children become more comfortable and open.

According to Lahris, it has been documented that many actors and actresses would be classified as shy or introverts in their everyday lives, using Johnny Carson, former host of “The Tonight Show,” as an example.

“I always find it amazing that in the first couple of classes kids will be shy, but then they feel more comfortable and begin to come out of their shell.”

Parents can register their children in the camp by going to firstcoastculturalcenter.org and clicking on “art camps” under the “programs” tab. The camp can be found by scrolling down and then clicking on the “info and registration” box beneath the camp description.

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