Why Kids Do Theatre Part 1: A Boy’s Perspective

January 29, 2018

We know there are some great reasons on why kids should do theatre such as it builds confidence, teaches empathy, it’s creative, and it exposes kids to literature and history –  just to name a few.

Recently Spotlight interviewed several Peninsula Youth Theatre (PYT) male performers and asked them about their experiences in theatre! Introducing Yonatan Brutman age 9,  Josh Gefken age 14, and Derron Mendel, age 15.

When did you become interested in theatre and at what age and why?

Yonatan: When I was 6 years old, I got interested in acting. I followed my sister, Ella and my brother, Ori, on the stage and I knew I wanted to join them and act so that I can pretend I was someone else.

Josh: When I was five, my family and I would go to see the PYT Theater in the Park summer shows . I thought it looked like fun so my mom signed me up and I started taking PYT’s Theater in the Park summer camps

Derron: I started at PYT summer camps at age 9. I had recently seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I wanted to do something like that, so I did a two-week summer camp at PYT. I liked it, and I went back the next year. After that, I tried a mainstage musical, and I loved it. Since then, I’ve been doing theatre whenever I have time.

Derron Mendel, Theatre in the Park

What have you learned from doing theatre that has helped you either personally or in school?

Yonatan: Don’t judge people by first impression but try to get to know them better before you form an opinion about them.

Josh: It has helped me feel comfortable speaking in front of people and it’s easier to make new friends.

Josh Gefken rehearsing for Stories on Stage “The Ugly Duckling”

Derron: The two main things that acting has helped me with is that it got me used to performing onstage, which is useful for everything from playing in my school’s band to giving a speech. The other thing it has helped me with is learning that things don’t always go the way you expect them to, and doing theatre often involves at least some amount of improvisation. I am now in the improv group at my school, and theatre has made me much better at that.

What do you enjoy the most about acting/performing?

Yonatan: Getting to know new people, I love to be on stage, letting all my expressions and emotions come out.

Yonatan Brutman in “Cinderella”

Josh: It’s fun to be in the spotlight and to build a show with groups of other actors.

Josh Gefken (sitting left) and the cast of Stories on Stage “Officer Buckle and Gloria”

Derron: By far the best thing about doing theatre is the chance to meet amazing actors that you get to work with. During the rehearsal process, you get to know most, if not all of the cast, and many times the cast will stay as a close friend group even after the show is over. Getting to meet other people with similar passions to you is a great thing, and getting to put on a play with them is even better. Also, you get to be in a play!

Derron Mendel (left) with friends in “She Kills Monsters”

What other activities do you do besides theatre?

Yonatan: I play basketball, take hip hop lessons and play the drums.

Josh: Hiking, biking, track and field, building sets and props and being a PYT summer camp intern!

Derron: Aside from theatre, I play the guitar and sing in my school’s band, and I sing in a choir.  I like math and science, and I play way too many video games.

Do you have a favorite role you’d like to perform?

Yonatan: Simba, Jojo, and Shrek.

Josh: Simba and Captain Hook.

Derron: It’s really hard to pick just one role that I want to play, but I would love to play Javert in Les Miserables. He is a really emotional character with a good backstory, and even though he is the antagonist of the play, he is easy to empathise with, which I like. He also gets to sing some amazing baritone songs.

What is your favorite play or musical?

Yonatan: It’s hard for me to choose but I really love Hamilton and Annie.

Josh: Wicked, Lion King, and Newsies.

Derron: My favorite musical is probably Les Miserables. It deals with themes that aren’t black and white, and explores many different perspectives on the same issue, while getting you to root for both sides at once. And the whole thing is entirely in song!

What would you say to other boys who might want to do theatre but are hesitant about trying it out. 

Yonatan: Don’t be afraid of what people say, just be yourself. It’s a lot of fun, the directors and all the team are usually very nice, they love kids and they know that some people might be afraid. They know how to help and support. The kids are very nice, and I made some great friends in PYT.

Josh: It’s a really fun learning experience and you make lots of great friends who like to do what you do!

Derron: Being in theatre is amazing all around. You get to explore whole new worlds, while dancing through the life of your character. The friends you make last for forever, and when you’re onstage, you can dream a dream of playing your favorite part. Even if you don’t know if you want to do theatre later on, it could still be good for you to try it out at least once. The thing to remember is that whatever choice you make in theatre, it’s gonna be good. It’s impossible to make a mistake in theatre; there’s nothing that’s too out there, nothing that people will judge you on, and nothing that you don’t know if people will be OK with. You might do it for seconds or years. But if you enjoy it, theatre might be perfect for you. And best of all, you get to quote musical songs to your friends all day!

Derron Mendel (center) in “A Year With Frog and Toad”

Any story you’d like to share about why you like to perform?

Yonatan: My father is a performer, my sister played Annie in Annie, and my brother was Theo in Puss N’ Boots. When I saw them performing, I knew that I also wanted to do it one day.

Yonatan with siblings Ori and Ella

Josh: I like to perform because it gives me lots of creative opportunities. I even got to be in a movie!

Spotlight thanks Yonatan, Josh and Derron for sharing their experiences and stay tuned for Part 2 of “Why Kids Do Theatre: A Boys Perspective” – coming shortly.

For more information about PYT camps, classes, internships, employment, upcoming auditions and shows go, please visit PYT’s website at  www.pytnet.org

Blog by Barbie Koch

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