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The Kids of Bethel prepares for upcoming lunch performances

The past four years Kyle Dodson has taught the drama and improv class, a job that he has passion for.

Improv not only formulates laughs, but develops critical communication skills. Students challenge themselves to be instinctive and provide quick-thinking. Within this system, students gather character and motivation according to Dodson.

“Drama benefits students because it stretches an entirely different muscle in our brains than any other subject,” Dodson said. “The lessons about confidence and ‘presence’ on the stage is incredibly beneficial for every other class that you take. It allows you to better understand cultures and other people’s backgrounds because at every turn a drama student is required to consider what the character is going through and what their motivation is.”

Dodson’s improvisation class go by their performance name “The Kids of Bethel”.

The Kids of Bethel will be performing at lunch once a month in Dodson’s classroom, room 603. Students are encouraged to bring their lunch and watch their talented classmates create story and humor off the top of their head. The improv team will take suggestions from the audience for a wide variety of improvisation games, which helps give influence to the characters.

Lindsay Weimer | The Feather Online

Bianca Callier, ’24, (left to right) Zeke Fuller, ’20, and Logan Lewis, ’20, participate in a drama improv game during class.

To prepare for these lunchtime performances, Dodson plays improvisation games in the beginning of the year.

Among these is the “Alliteration” game. One person stands in the center of the circle and they point to a castmate, giving them a letter. That letter must provide a person, object, and place. Failing to do so in an appropriate amount of time switches the person in the center with the one who did not succeed.

“It gets students comfortable with one another, trusting one another, and creates a great environment of community,” Dodson said. “If you can’t trust your fellow drama performer, the community collapses. I feel like improv games are also that case where ‘oh anybody can do,’ but is definitely easier said than done. There are rules, there are practices to become better improvisers.”

Alumna, Tali Hill, was a member of Dodson’s drama and improv class from 2016-’18. Hill appreciates the trust that goes into every performance, to her it forms a connection between peers.

“When you step on stage, you have to trust that your castmate is going to cover for you if you forget a line or mess up a scene,” Hill said. “This skill is particularly important in improv because every exercise requires you to think on your feet and sometimes you just can’t get your words across. It’s your classmate’s job to help you through those moments. It bonds people almost instantly. I think that the skills you learn in drama can be applied to your everyday life.”

Dodson obtained a passion for drama at a young age and has been motivated by all of his drama teachers to pursue his dream, even post college.

“I was the perfect age and the perfect interest of drama when the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was revived for American audiences,” Dodson said. “The wit and skill displayed by those actors impressed me and I always made it a specific intention to never miss the show when it was on the air. Later, I had several drama teachers that encouraged my interest level and crafted me into an official ‘improviser’.”

Colton Allen, ‘20, performs professionally under the stage name “James Barre” as a singer and participating in Dodson’s drama and improv class attributes to his performances on stage when he goes on tour.

“As a performer, when I’m really nervous I pretend I’m with a specific group of people I’m comfortable with,” Allen said. “With every drama group I’ve been apart of I’ve felt this way. Drama creates that environment. Drama is a space for you to be creative and free and whoever you want to be without anyone saying that it’s strange, you can just do whatever, it’s a free environment.”

Dodson plans several significant changes to the expectations for drama and improv than in the past. Years ago, Shakespearean plays were performed on FCS campus, Dodson believes with his group of students, he can bring that tradition back with success.

Lindsay Weimer | The Feather Online

Kyle Dodson instructs his drama students on proper improv techniques.

“Our big stage show this year is William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’,” Dodson said. “High schools near us are too afraid to put on classic productions such as this so it will also separate FCS from the rest of the programs around.”

In addition to performing “The Tempest”, Dodson will be putting together an end of the year “revue” which will feature musical numbers, staged scenes, and monologues.

The FCS Drama Group will be going to several local college workshops and “open houses” for the first time to show what drama looks like at the next level and Dodson is looking forward to the conversations and discoveries that those trips will provide for his students.

Dates for the upcoming performances are to be announced.

Connor Jens can be reached via Twitter and via email.

For more articles, read 41st annual Scottish Highland games encourage heritage. For more class spotlights, read Students learn foreign language, prepare projects.

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