A little drama will infiltrate the Village of East Hampton on October 8 as a brand new acting class for adults begins. The “I’ve Never Acted Before” Theatre Workshop is just as it sounds—those who have not set foot on stage or have very little experience with theater will get personal instruction on how to perform, and will do just that in December.
The 12-week course is offered as part of the East Hampton School District Continuing Education program and is one of 14 classes to be held this fall.
According to Kerry McCarthy, who created the workshop in 1990, the class is “all inclusive.”
“Everybody gets a part and starts out on stage,” she said this week. “We have college kids working with people in their 80s and 90s. They have to work together as colleagues and then they become friends.”
For 23 years, Ms. McCarthy has traveled to schools across Long Island to teach her workshop to adults “who have been bitten by the acting bug” but hadn’t had the opportunity to act on it, she said. From “Dracula” to “A Christmas Carol” to “Sherlock Holmes,” her students have overcome stage freight, learned how to project their voices and made their characters come to life.
Those who join the East Hampton workshop will have the opportunity to be a part of a comedy revue that includes a production of a 1930s sitcom radio show called “Flywheel Shyster Flywheel” that depicts the misadventures of a small law firm. Originally, the show starred brother-comedians Groucho and Chico Marx. Groucho played attorney Waldorf T. Flywheel while Chico played Flywheel’s assistant, Emmanuel Ravelli.
“This script, which had been considered lost, really is a laugh riot,” Ms. McCarthy said. “The students will have a ball with it, as of course will the audience.”
When Ms. McCarthy is done with them, her students will be well-versed in lip-syncing as well. With the blessing of Neil Sedaka, who Ms. McCarthy met a few years ago at a book signing, acting class pupils will lip-sync to Mr. Sedaka’s classics while they perform simple choreography. Ms. McCarthy said that lip-syncing is an important acting exercise and that even Marlon Brando was an advocate of it, having mimed to Judy Garland records as a student of Stella Adler, an acclaimed acting teacher.
While she doesn’t expect the skill of Marlon Brandon from her students—they can practically have no experience whatsoever—they will leave with more than what they came in with.
“Once our students have had the legitimate opportunity of participating in an actual production, they can move on to audition for any theater group on Long Island, with something under their belts,” she said. “We play to their strengths and challenge them as well.”
Ms. McCarthy, who is a Riverhead resident, said that she has worked along side Elizabeth Taylor, Vincent Price and Spike Lee during her career and performs a one-woman show on-and-off as the illustrious Tallulah Bankhead.
Since 1990, her acting workshop has been well-received, she said, especially with help from her partner and producer, Michael Palmer, who helped her design her classes to provide a serious underlying educational experience for the beginning adult, while keeping it fun.
According to Bridget LeRoy, East Hampton School District’s communications consultant who has taken charge of the continuing education program, the class is one of many that is open to the community. Unlike previous years, the classes are simply run out of the middle and high school buildings and the district does not deal with students’ payment. Instead, students pay their teachers directly, not only making it more beneficial to the teachers but to the district as well, which used to foot the cost of advertising.
“I love the idea of the continuing education program being a salon,” she said. “The computer classes help people get a promotion at work—that helps them get further in life. There is art and music classes and Bridge—fun things that help us grow spiritually, emotionally and artistically.” Additionally, there are wellness, driving, and language classes.
Some would argue, however, that new friendships are enough reason to jump into a continuing education program this fall.
“There are extra goodies—there are friendships that will start in my class that are going to last a lifetime,” Ms. McCarthy said. “It’s really marvelous.”
For more information, call 346-8094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out about other classes, call 329-4111.