Local production company Ctrl-ART-Del is offering the public the chance to peer behind the curtain and learn how to become comfortable performing on stage through a new beginners acting course launching later this week.

The workshop will run for two weekends beginning Sept. 23 and will cover the basics of acting, says Amy Leis, who co-founded the troupe with artistic director Tim Nicholson last winter.

While the original mandate of Ctrl-ART-Del was to bring local talent together to showcase their skills in a variety of works, they have adapted recently to introduce an educational component. That was borne out of Leis’ work with a group of drama students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.

“I met many very talented kids that are hungry for more theatre than they can get at school alone. They kept asking me if they could get involved – who am I to say no?” Leis said. “This workshop is part of our effort to make sure people have some level of training before we throw them on stage. I think anybody can act – they just have to figure out the basics. That’s where we come in.”

Leis is an experienced performer, featuring heavily in Highlands Summer Festival productions and K-W Musical Productions performances in Kitchener in recent years. She is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School in Toronto. Nicholson has years in the industry too, performing professionally in North Bay and Toronto before returning to Haliburton County, where he has become a staple at the Highlands Summer Festival.

Nicholson said he’s excited to run the workshops, which he says will teach people skills they can build on for the rest of their lives.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that acting is a skilled trade,” he said. “Raw talent exists, but there are technical skills that can and should be taught. Once you have those in your mental toolbox, you can apply them to any role you take on.”

Leis said the workshops will focus heavily on presentation and delivery, with participants challenged to write and perform their own monologue. There will also be “table work”, where everyone will sit and read through an entire play as a group and perform select scenes.

“That’s all about showing people what the start of a rehearsal process is like, what sort of questions they should be asking for character development, and how they go about building a character from the ground up,” Leis said.

The workshop will end with participants helping to craft a series of unique scenes, which will be performed for a live audience at the Haliburton Legion Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

The workshop will end with participants helping to craft a series of unique scenes, which will be performed for a live audience at the Haliburton Legion Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

The end goal is to have a new pool of actors to select from when Ctrl-ART-Del launches its second performing season next spring. In its inaugural year, the group performed one play, Cherubs by British playwright Toby McShane, at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion last March.

“Our big focus this season is on getting fresh blood onto the stage. If you’ve always wanted to be on stage in Haliburton, we want to meet you,” said Leis, noting the group is planning to run two plays and a cabaret next year. A full schedule will be announced Oct. 15.

Leis said the workshops are a “low stakes, fun, supportive environment” for people looking to pursue acting, whether as a hobby or a career.

The course will run Sept. 23, 24, 30 and Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minden Lions Hall. Rehearsals will begin Oct. 14 and run through to the live show.

To learn more and register, visit ctrlartdel. ca.