Playmakers Civic Theatre trains the next local stars

Mar 12, 2024 | Featured, Entertainment | 0 comments

Jonnie Myers-Debbink, right, teaches her class how to take a proper bow on stage. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

On March 4, Jonnie Myers-Debbink taught a group of students how to sit, breathe, laugh and gesture. She wasn’t teaching toddlers elementary basics; she was teaching adults the intricasies of theatre performance. Six women joined Myers-Debbink on the Playmakers Civic Theatre stage as she led the educational program, “3-2-1, You’re On.”

Playmakers offers three of the educational programs. There are classes for kids in grades 4 through 8 and grades 9 through 12, and another class for adults. The programs are open to beginners wanting to take their initial steps onto the stage, and they are also beneficial for experienced actors wishing to hone their performances. The classes not only improve the students’ theater skills, but they also help prepare them for life as they grow their public speaking skills.

Jonnie Myers-Debbink, left, taught the “3-2-1, You’re On” adult theater class a few basic theatre techniques on topics like breathing and sitting. Playmakers is also offering the class to children. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Among the techniques Myers-Debbink taught was diaphragmatic breathing.

“Kennedy struggled to speak. He would lose his voice when he spoke until he learned this,” she said. “It took me a year to learn to breathe.”

As Myers-Debbink taught the class how to sit, breathe and laugh on stage, she was teaching them to utilize their whole being in a performance.

The “3-2-1, You’re On” students learned proper breathing techniques to maximize their voices from the stage. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Every inch of your body is an actor,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of boldness in the theater.

“One of the most important things in a character is confidence,” she said. “The biggest horror is being in your head. When you’re in your head, you forget.”

As the students stood under the heat of theater lights on a stage filled with props, Myers-Debbink talked to them about character development.

Jonnie Myers-Debbink instructs a group of theater students at Playmakers Civic Theatre on March 4. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Acting is one of the most exciting things you can do,” she said. “It’s not impersonating. It’s what you personally give to the character to make it unique.”

“3-2-1 You’re On” is sponsored by a grant from the Ottawa County Community Foundation.

For more information on Playmakers Civic Theatre, visit www.pcplaymakers.org.

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