By Sandra Zunino
Nestled in the heart of downtown Stevensville, My Little Studio supports the local arts in many ways. Opened by artist/proprietor Joan McWilliams in 1996, the business provides local artists a space to work and display their art to the public.
Last spring, Joan expanded the space to allow more artists to enter the co-op. This also afforded her the room to start a children’s theatre group called Kids Playhouse. Joan, along with neighbor and long-time friend Patti Cipriano launched the venture to provide youngsters the opportunity to explore the performing arts as well as build confidence.
Joan, who has been an advocate of performing arts since childhood, was the music and drama teacher for four years at a private pre-school in Annapolis. “I conducted classes for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, working with children to perform small pageants,” she says.
Patti has been a teacher for several years, teaching elementary and middle school aged children. She focuses on English and reading and had done a lot of reader’s theater, according to Joan.
Children ages 7 to 17 have attended the workshops, which run for about five weeks. “There has been quite a range,” says Joan, “no matter what the ages, we’ll find a part for everybody with as few or as many kids as we have.”
Children meet once a week for about an hour and work towards a public performance. The cost is $60 and includes materials for costumes and props as well as instruction.
“The children learn how to speak and project in front of an audience,” says Joan. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to find venues for each of the performances.
The Kids Playhouse performed at Kent Island Days last spring and recently performed at the Centreville Library. “We do short, 15-minute plays,” says Joan. “The kids make their own props and costumes to the extent that the can.”
Children are encouraged to brainstorm and voice their opinions of how they want the costumes and props to appear.
Kids Playhouse will perform next in downtown Stevensville during the Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 24 at noon. The young actors will read works by Edgar Allen Poe and wear Halloween costumes in keeping with the upcoming holiday.
The next workshop begins this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. Those interested in participating are invited to attend to learn more about the program. For more information or to sign up, please call My Little Studio at 410-604-0721.
Joan along with other artists offers classes in art of many forms, including painting, quilting, silver jewelry, and photography as well as art, jewelry and crafts for sale in the store.