Play On! Studios, a theater enrichment studio for ages 4-14, offers after-school and Saturday classes, summer and holiday camps and audition prep programs. Their mission is to make music and theater relevant for today’s children through innovative teaching methods. We asked Lena about her studio and the benefits gained from studying theater.
What inspired you to enter this field?
I’ve always loved theater. Growing up, I joined wonderful acting programs after school and during the summer, which gave serious training for people of all skill levels. My two best friends from Shakespeare camp ended up as a doctor and a lawyer, but they both agree that performing in plays helped shape them as people and furthered them in their careers.
Please describe your after-school classes.
We offer a wide variety of classes:
Creative Drama (grades pre-k-3): This is our most popular class, emphasizing the creativity, enjoyment and personal growth of each child. Through drama games, movement, music, and vocal exercises, kids explore self-expression and gain confidence. A final showcase in front of family and friends gives them the opportunity to experience the most exciting aspect of theater: Performance!
Theater Lab (grades 3-6): Our original Seriously Serious, Seriously Fun class encourages young actors to develop their own artistic point of view while acquiring essential skills. Students focus on improvisation, scene study and many different acting styles in a fun theatrical exploration. A final show allows students to show off their new skills.
Musical Theater Performance (grades 3-8): Perform a full musical in a professional theater! Classes incorporate character building, vocal performance and movement. Our productions and training are of the highest quality… and so is the fun! Space is limited to ensure that every child has a chance to shine.
Do you run your classes from a studio?
All our classes (and some of our summer camps) take place at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew at 86th Street and Broadway. It’s a community-based place, with a preschool on the first floor and other children’s classes which use the space as well. We also have camps at Ballet Hispanico – and even downtown!
I understand that you provide one-day and one-week theater camps during school vacation. What are your goals for each of these different programs?
Our one-day camps are inspired by different Broadway, Disney or Movie musicals. Campers explore related scenes, songs and dances and, of course, play lots of drama games! It’s a day packed with theater and fun.
Our one-week camps are jam-packed with acting and music games, arts and crafts, and theater. Our teaching artists lead campers through the full experience of rehearsing and putting on a full production in front of family and friends.
Both programs are great for kids with all levels of experience, including beginners.
Please describe the training you provide to prepare children for music and drama auditions.
We o er some great programs for auditions, including a boot camp over the summer for preparing monologues for high school and college auditions, a musical theater revue to help kids prepare musical theater selections and private coaching.
Regardless of talent, some students are more introverted than others. How do you ensure that every kid gets a chance to shine?
Our top priority is to give each child a chance to shine. No one is ever left in the background, playing a tree. Each child has lines or solos so that they can work standing confidently center stage! There are also lots of group moments so that those who are more introverted can get used to performing with the support of their peers.
Do any of the children continue with their theater studies to a higher level?
Many of our students are currently in performing arts high schools, such as LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS) and Talent Unlimited.
Do you have theater experts or teaching artists who work with you?
We have an amazing team of teachers each of whom specializes in their chosen areas. Each one also has vast experience in performing as well as teaching. Many of our younger teaching assistants are actually graduates of our programs.
What advice do you have for people who want to pursue acting or teaching music as a career?
Take as many classes as you can now! You learn how to teach from your teachers without even realizing it. So many of the things I do now I gleaned from my own teachers.
Lena Moy-Borgen has been teaching drama and music since 1997. She has a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and boasts diverse teaching experience, including clowning and self-defense in addition to theater. Lena is also a cabaret artist who has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Don’t Tell Mama’s,
the Duplex and more. Today, she is the director of Play On! Studios.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 347-709-4149, www.playonstudios.com