By Mike Pound

Globe columnist



There are many things that our 10-year-old daughter, Emma, is, but shy is not one of them.

So two years ago, as Emma and I walked down the aisle of the Joplin Little Theatre and I asked her if she would be OK by herself, I was surprised when she asked if I would stick around for a few minutes.

We were at the theater for Emma’s first day at the JLT’s children’s summer workshop, something she had been looking forward to for some time. But when Emma walked down the aisle and saw all the kids running around on the stage acting like ... well, acting like kids at a theater camp, I think she had second thoughts. I think Emma got shy.

So I stuck around for a few minutes. I didn’t do much, and I don’t think Emma wanted me to do much. She mainly wanted to have someone to sit with, so I sat with her.

After a few minutes, I saw her wave at another little girl and smile. Evidently, Emma and the other girl knew each other from some other camp. Emma moved down to talk to the girl, and I stayed in my seat. A few minutes later, Emma came back and told me I could leave. So I did.

Later that afternoon, I drove back to the theater to pick her up. When I walked into the theater, she was with a group of kids her age. They were running around acting ... well, acting likes kids at a theater camp. As we signed out and started walking back to our car, I asked Emma how camp was. She said it was great. She told me she met a “bunch of neat kids.” She told me she had fun. Then she told me the really big news.

“We get to do a show,” is what she said.

Emma learned a lot that summer at the JLT workshop. She learned about acting. She learned about working with other kids. She learned about dancing. She learned about performing in front of a crowd. But more than anything, she learned about overcoming initial shyness. About self-confidence.

When I told that story to Ann Lile, she laughed. Ann is the administrator of this year’s JLT children’s workshop. In that role, she has seen a lot of nervous, wide-eyed, shy kids gradually turn into confident, scene-stealing performers.

“It’s amazing what two weeks here for a couple of hours a day will do to a kid,” Ann said.

The workshop is open to kids who are entering kindergarten through high school. Registration was last Saturday, but Ann told me that the theater has extended the registration period through Friday. There will be someone at the theater, 3008 W. First St., from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. to handle the registration. If you can’t get to the theater during that time period, you can call (417) 623-3638 or send an e-mail to jlt.workshop@yahoo.com.

This year’s workshop will run from July 14-25. There are two sessions from which to choose: a morning session from 9:30 a.m. until noon, and an afternoon session from 1 until 3:30 p.m. The cost of the workshop is $80.

Ann said the kids at the workshop will learn about historical storytelling, with an emphasis on the history of Joplin. Working with workshop counselors, the kids will put together plays and scenes based on the history of Joplin. As they put the plays and scenes together, the kids will be immersed in all aspects of theatrical rehearsals, Ann said.

It’s really a pretty neat deal. But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can ask Emma. She’ll tell you. And I don’t think she will be shy.

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