HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE INSTRUCTION

Kerstin Caldwell has been teaching theatre-based improvisation at high schools around the Denver Metro area for many years. The following curriculum choices are designed from the insights Kerstin has gained while working with high school theatre teachers to help advance their student’s talents.


INTRODUCTION TO HIGH SCHOOL IMPROVISATION
Students thrive when learning improvisation, even as beginners. This course will focus on increasing self-esteem, enhancing problem-solving skills and developing group building skills. Your students will walk away thinking they've simply played games, but the lessons they will learn regarding interaction, listening, patience and sharing focus are truly recognizable.

ACTING THROUGH IMPROVISATION
Improv is about being funny not about acting, right? WRONG! The myth that having to be funny to do improv is simply that: a myth. With this workshop, students will learn how to listen to their scene partner and to themselves in order to build a reality together that is often times thought provoking, emotional or sentimental while finding humor within the reality of a situation. This training is highly effective in high school theater programs with kids that are gifted with studying lines, but aren't quite able to find the depth of the message they are trying to convey.

BUILDING WELL ROUNDED CHARACTERS QUICKLY
There are some students who instinctively know how to change their voice and become someone new, but what about those analytical types who fear looking "silly" in front of their peers? This workshop will help students become more comfortable with developing a character through realizing the character already exists within them. Because each student learns differently, this workshop builds the analytical student's confidence by showing them how to develop characters through physicality, from an emotional viewpoint and from recalled visualization and recognition.

CUSTOM CURRICULUM
Not all students are at the same level of performance from year to year - so how do you help ignite a class’s spontaneous streak one year, while focusing on group acceptance and trust the following year? Kerstin can help you to design a program that is tailor-made for your specific needs that will help classes to succeed and grow.

HIGH SCHOOL INSTRUCTION

Words of Praise:

"In addition to being a talented performer, Kerstin is a skillful teacher. She has worked magic with our students this year teaching them improv skills and facilitating performance opportunities for them. More importantly though, she has inspired these students to take risks, engage with their peers in a positive way and learn about themselves and their untapped talents. After working with Kerstin, our students exhibit greater confidence and improved attitudes toward school. Although Kerstin's work is focused on improvisation, it has had an indirect relation to improved reading and writing performance. Students increase their vocabulary, improve word choice, and understand the critical elements for good storytelling, transitions, and organization."

~Jane Shirley
Principal
William Smith High School
Aurora, Colorado

"The work that my students have done with Kerstin Caldwell is some of the most rewarding and challenging work that they have ever done. Because she sees improv as a way to unlock committed honesty onstage, Kerstin gets at the heart of acting- truth. After working with her, my students were much more confident as performers, and they understood that the craft was, at its heart, an internal process. Students who I had not seen 'great' work from broke through doing her work. Her approach and her exercises allow students to become comfortable with themselves as actors as well as objects, and also gives them freedom to create characters who live complete lives on stage. She approaches acting from a place of playful, but structured creativity and her approach is unique to her; I have not encountered anyone else who does what she does. Kerstin is demanding, intelligent and fiercely committed to the use of improvisational theatre as a way to entertain and challenge audiences as well as to understand who we are as people."

~Jeremy Goldson
Theatre Department Chair
Mountain Vista High School
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

“Kerstin’s improvisational classes are a highlight of the Colorado Thespian Conference. Her creativity, knowledge and flexibility while working with youth is outstanding. Kerstin’s dedication to educational theatre is fresh and unyielding, as she focuses on building theatrical ties that relate to the core academic areas. Colorado Thespians wishes to thank Kerstin for her incredible energy while working with youth and her dedication to academic theatre.”

~Jay Seller
Chapter Director at Colorado Thespians
Fine Arts Coordinator & Instructor
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Thornton, Colorado

"My students have been working with Kerstin for that past 10 years. During that time we have seen a full curriculum developed for improvisation. Her guidance and support has allowed us to expand our improvisational offerings. Kerstin is an outstanding improvisational player who expects all of her students to respectfully approach the craft of improvisation. Kerstin ties theatre to many differing curriculum. Written reflection, character analysis, and plot development are all taught in the engaging medium of improvisation. Kerstin rocks! My students can't wait until she's available to work with them. They know they'll be challenged and encouraged. She's so cool!"

~Dr. Denina Brown
Former Theatre Department Chair
Douglas County High School
Castle Rock, Colorado

"Kerstin has always had an innate sense of timing and her intuition for comedic wit is impeccable! She is thorough! She is detail oriented and has high expectations for all students. She also has a wonderful wit and charm with the students as she guides and coaches them through exercises and different structures of improvisational forms. She really knows how to connect with the kids, pulling the best work from them, allowing them a safe place to take risks while they experiment within the work. I will continue to hire Kerstin for years to come, as she is the consummate professional, reliable and dependable. She not only teaches my students how to approach comedy, but through her training, my students learn how to apply these skills to all areas of their performances."

~Judi Hoffmeister
Theatre Department Chair
Douglas County High School
Castle Rock, Colorado

HIGH SCHOOL SELF-AWARENESS INSTRUCTION

Over the years, Kerstin has noticed a rather alarming decline in teenager’s ability to self assess and self correct when engaged with others. This, along with her own journey of self, became a brand new way of using improvisation.

By applying the belief that all humans have pure potential and yet all humans allow obstacles to get in their way of living successfully, Kerstin is able to get students to understand their value and worthiness of whatever they choose to attain.

Teaching teenagers the importance of self-awareness and what kind of energy they may be bringing to an environment, group or situation has been the most rewarding portion of her teaching. Shedding light on behaviors kids might not notice in themselves, yet they ridicule their peers for, and in turn teaching them to recognize and take control of their behaviors through the use of improvisation has become her true passion in working with teens.

Using play as the catalyst that awakens the truest sense of self, Kerstin is able to engage teens with fun and can quickly gauge which students may tend to control situations, prefer to be “invisible” during situations and which tend to play with reckless abandon, thus causing destruction in their wake. The behaviors found in play are often the same behaviors that either keep teens engaged in school, their relationships and responsibilities or keep them from being successful in each of those areas of their lives. Kerstin has found that helping each teen to recognize obstacles that may be keeping them from success and which positive behaviors, when utilized, can help them achieve what they only think is the impossible.

Part improvisation, part psychology, part interpersonal communications. This way of engaging and approaching teens has become the curriculum from which all Freshmen students at William Smith High School in Aurora, Colorado are required to take before moving forward in their high school careers. This work is dynamic, powerful and truly works at building self esteem. It helps kids who may otherwise be ready to give up regain a sense of self and a knowledge that anything is possible if they simply work toward achievement.



BUILDING SELF-AWARENESS THROUGH PLAY

Play may not seem like something you would use to engage teenagers, but when on a level playing field, all boundaries and perceptions of who is better than whom fade into the background. While engaged in agreement that this moment is all we have, and that the rules of the moment are for all to follow, the true essence of each teenager is immediately expressed and often, without them even knowing it.


Through a series of exercises, teens are taught how to recognize and label obstacles that may be getting in their way when engaged with self, others and a task. Each obstacle can be directly linked to the behaviors each student exhibits that makes them successful or uninterested in school, relationships and life.


BUILDING EMOTIONAL AWARENESS THROUGH PLAY

Out of frustration, many students aren’t able to express themselves and often show signs of what appears to be indifference, withdrawal and in severe cases, rage. While engaging teens in agreement that this moment is all we have, and that the rules of the moment are for all to follow, the true essence of each teenager is immediately expressed and often, without them even knowing it.


Through a series of exercises, teens are taught how they decipher and engage with different emotions that they see in others as well as appropriate ways to respond to one another through the filter of their current emotional state. Learning ways to express themselves without escalating into a severe emotional response will help students recognize how their control of self is what is essential in being a successful member of their environment.

*Each of the following workshops are based on a minimum of six hours of instruction, but can be tailored in length due to your schedule and interest level.