Young performers get a taste of Broadway
American actor shares skills with students
It is a long way from Broadway to Nelson Intermediate School.
That does not bother Tami Mansfield or her students in Off Broadway Performing Arts School.
This American has brought her passion for the arts from New York City to Nelson.
Originally from Oregon, she is a professional actor, who has worked in theatre, television, TV commercials, off Broadway and in regional theatre.
She trained with a Master of Fine Arts from The Old Globe - Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory was in her class of seven students, and she studied at Shakespeare's Globe in London.
She loves teaching and worked with young people from various backgrounds on Broadway for seven years using performing arts to teach literacy and theatre appreciation.
Now Nelson children are getting the benefit of her experience and expertise. She has taught workshops at Garin College and as a volunteer directed All Shook Up at the Theatre Royal for the Nelson Youth Theatre.
Since the start of the year she has been running her own performing arts school in the Performing Arts Centre at Nelson Intermediate. Her classes include a Glee Choir of 7 to 11-year-olds whose first public performance was at Isel Park on Sunday, as well as classes in acting, dance and musical theatre for ages 7 through to 18. "It's all about confidence and joy," she said.
Some students who come to the classes have dreams of starring in the likes of New Zealand's Got Talent and the X Factor, while others just want the confidence to sing. She trains them professionally "as if they're going to audition for a director".
She is keen to reach children who are "off grid" as "real theatre skills are also real life skills".
In New York she was employed in a literary project as one of 10 teachers who went into public schools to inspire students to write 10-minute plays. Two of the five plays that were chosen to be performed were by her students so she got to direct those plays at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway.
"One of those students was a girl who could barely speak English. She wrote a play about a guy who accidentally shoots his friend's mother. The play is really about forgiveness. By the end of the next year she was top of her class and she got up and spoke in front of her school. She was articulate and amazing."
With the final term's classes starting this week, Ms Mansfield is enthusiastic about Off Broadway's potential.
- © Fairfax NZ News