BLT workshop participants to perform Saturday

Jan 30, 2018 by (),

Rula Backos, left, teaches student Lillian South a technique for acting during Saturday’s theatrical workshop at Togi’s Playhouse in Bradford. Backos’ students will provide free, informal performances for the community at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the playhouse.

When one little girl admitted she got the nervous jitters from acting on stage, her instructor, Rula Backos assured her that this was a very normal reaction for many actors before taking the stage — and she would be fine.

For the past month, Backos of Allegany, N.Y., has lead a group of children and a separate group of adults on the ins and outs of acting during workshops offered through Bradford Little Theatre, also referred to as BLT, at Togi’s Playhouse at 16 Welch Ave. in Bradford.

Backos said her two groups of children, ages 9 to 14, and adults will try out their acting skills on family, friends and the community when they perform skits at the playhouse at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, respectively. The performances are free and open to the public.

“This is work in progress, but it’s amazing what (the young and older actors) can do,” Backos said before the start of the children’s class early Saturday.

Backos, who has taught acting for 25 years and studied under the famous Lee Strasberg in New York City, said the class is the first of its type to be offered by BLT during the winter months. Classes for children have been offered by BLT during past summers, and Rulos also teaches theater to children during the annual Kids’ College summer program at Jamestown Community College in Olean, N.Y.

“It’s been good, the kids have done well, and the adults, too,” Backos remarked. “The first week we did improvisation and I talked a lot about the craft of being an actor. You have to think of your body as an instrument.”

Backos said she also brought scripts to the class that were used both in scenes and improvised skits. Backos said she teaches her students to completely understand the character they’re portraying to provide a believable performance.

“Even though these are young kids, I’m learning from them, too,” Backos said. “When you teach, you learn … it’s been a lot of fun.”

Backos said she hopes to offer the classes again at the playhouse next year, between theatrical tours with fellow actor Todd Wagner of Enchante Cabaret in Salamanca, N.Y. The two travel seven months out of the year performing and singing in road performances written by Backos. She also plans to perform a one-woman show titled “Einstein’s First Wife” in September at the playhouse.

Children who commented on the acting workshops included Lillian South, 9, who said she enjoyed everything about the class.

“This is my fifth time doing something for acting,” Lillian said. “I did two years of Kiwanis Kapers” and three performances with BLT.

Another young actor, Addie Haviland, said, “I try not to be nervous (on stage) because I’ve been in a lot of plays.”

In response to this comment, Backos said, “That’s not even bad — I’ve been performing since I was (a child) and I still get nervous, but that’s OK.”

Kristen Asinger, president of BLT, said the workshops have been well-received and beneficial for the students.

“It’s been perfect for Saturdays in the wintertime,” Asinger said. “A lot of times, adults and kids are looking for something to do.”

Asinger said she met Backos approximately 18 months ago and was impressed by her background in theater.

“It’s been nice to bring in someone new to BLT and she has a ton of experience,” Asinger said of Backos. “Everyone is learning a lot from her.”

On a related topic, Asinger said BLT’s next performance is “Jaws The Musical,” which will be staged Feb. 9 and 10 at the Limestone Firemen’s Community Center at 616 Main St. in Limestone, N.Y. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinners, games and raffles, followed by the 8 p.m. performance. Proceeds will benefit BLT and the community center.

Originally posted in The Bradford Era