Acting: It’s Not Just Playing Pretend

By: Erica Laible, UT Student Volunteer

Students during acting class. Photo Credit: Autumn Wagman

Even before I was involved in B*Tru Arts, I always had an interest in theater and music. Since I was nine years old, I have been in theatre productions and still today appreciate the craft. Last Spring, I was looking for an internship involved in public relations and I stumbled upon a B*Tru Arts Public Relations Internship posted on the UT Career Source website. The non-profit caught my eye because of its focus on arts education and cooperation with local artists.

After interning there for the summer, I had only really helped out with the social media and the events the company hosts. I had not really been involved in the acting and dancing youth classes B*Tru Arts provides; that is until my promo video team and I went to the founder’s acting class to film.  The acting class was taught very differently than I was taught as a kid. They didn’t read from scripts or scenes, but did exercises that would ignite an emotional connection between the actors and the character they were playing.  Aisha, the founder of B*Tru Arts, would ask them questions such as, “Why do you think you’re character would do that?” and “How does that make you feel?” She would also ask them to think of times in their lives where they experienced what their character was experiencing. The way she taught was very direct and she demanded a lot from her students at such a young age.

Once class was over and the kids went home, I asked Aisha about her teaching methods and why she decided to teach them that way. “I’ve seen too many theatre productions where directors produce the same production the same way every year with new kids,” said Aisha. “That type of directing doesn’t help them become better actors. I treat them like adults because that is what the real world will expect of them.”

Aisha was right.  If these kids were expected to use their craft in the professional world, there is a certain amount of professionalism and talent that is expected of them. That is what I believe makes B*Tru Arts special. They are teaching the arts in an authentic way that enriches the actor’s skill set and creates a collaborative environment to learn in. Unlike other youth performing arts classes, B*Tru Arts is teaching students the skills they will need to perform as professionals.