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What got you interested in the theater? My parents took me to the theater when I was a kid, and that’s what first got me to love the theater and to appreciate the arts. I now recognize how it can bring self-esteem to children. It can really change a child’s life.

Is it the magic of theater? Theater builds community. When I taught here last year, some of the children had just moved in and were afraid they wouldn’t make friends, but (in the theater) they found their niche. It also helps develop public speaking skills, and teaches children how to empathize.

The computer gadgets that kids have today, do they hinder their stage work? I confiscated two Game Boys last session. (She laughs.) That certainly would not have been the case (years ago). But you’re right, the attention span is not nearly as long as before, and that is a challenge. But every experience is worth drawing from in art. Recently, we were doing an improvisation game and a kid pretended to be Pac-Man, and it was hilarious, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing always.

What’s the summer curriculum? We start out learning basic theater skills, voice projection, becoming a different character, changing the way you walk and move. It culminates with a full-scale theater production. They also get to learn about lights, sets, costumes and props.

And the name of this year’s production is? “Humpty: The Case of the Cracked Culprit.” It’s a delightful spoof on the 1940s-1950s private-eye genre. It’s the story of: “Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. Who was behind it?” The kids are getting into the detective, private-eye thing. The suspects are all fairy tale characters, like Rapunzel.

When will they perform it? The performances are Thursday and Friday, August 2nd and 3rd, at 3 p.m., and Saturday, August 4th at 7 p.m. It’s good for the kids to experience a run, to experience different audiences … The kids learn how to adjust, because when you’re on stage your timing may change according to the audience’s reaction.

Among current actors, who inspires you? Robin Williams is the ultimate. He holds nothing back.

Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: news@estripes.osd.mil

Name: Sonia Justl, 24Title: Director of the Wiesbaden 2007 Children’s Summer Theater WorkshopBackground: Family hails from Arlington, Texas. Born and raised in Brazil, Sonia received much of her education in Oklahoma and Oxford, England. This is her second year as director of the six-week summer theater program. This fall she plans to move to New York City.


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