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A lesson in COVID: Youth Wing faces new challenges following return from hiatus

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Aiken Youth Wing returns

The Aiken Youth Wing returned for their first workshop since March. For now, masks and social distancing are new props the young actors will be using until the pandemic climate changes for the better. 

A challenge for actors of any caliber involves using their bodies, voices and facial expressions to relay the emotion of a scene, a lesson novice actors with the Aiken Community Theatre’s Youth Wing were challenged to enact during their first workshop since March.

With masks over their mouths and 6 feet of distance between the over a dozen youth members attending the Sunday workshop, the middle to high school actors-to-be had to double down on their skills to portray a believable scene.

However, the youths were up for the challenge and breezed through their usual series of exercises with renewed enthusiasm. 

Using expressional games such as Samurai, Youth Wing teachers Chuck Schick and Wendy Dietzel helped Youth Wing members project their voices past the layer of protective covering they wore and taught them how to use their body and eye movements to portray the emotion they were meant to portray during a scene.

“I know sometimes you don't like these games because they're silly, but we make you do them because they help with your projection," Dietzel said to Youth Wing participants during their warm-up. "(Facial expressions) are hard right now ... step out of your comfort zone and give it a try." 

Though the Youth Wing's acting skills will attempt to cloud whether or not there is a pandemic, the group, as well as other departments of the Aiken Community Theatre, faces an additional challenge.

The Aiken Community Theatre has been revamping the former Youth Wing Playhouse, a shack-like structure located behind the tennis courts of the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center, to make it more accessible to the group's workshop practices and theater rehearsals. 

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic's effect on the theater's profits for its canceled theatrical shows, which would have been used to help fund the project, the project is in a sort of limbo until the pandemic climate changes.

"We have no revenue coming in ... so we've put the (playhouse renovation) on the back burner since we don't know when we're going to be able to start back up," said Jimmy Moore, education director for the Youth Wing. "We're doing a little bit of time (with) a few volunteers at a time."

Recent fundraisers like the "The Savannah Sipping Society" put on by members of the Aiken Heart Show have helped scrape together about $2,000 for the project, but with thousands of dollars more needed for the interior renovations alone, work will continue to be slow, Moore said. 

The Aiken Community Theatre is additionally accepting donations in the form of construction supplies or Lowe's or Home Depot gift cards that will be used to purchase supplies, said Kyle Seconi, executive director for the Aiken Community Theatre.

These donations can be dropped off at the front box office at the Aiken Community Theatre.

Donations can additionally be made to the theatre online at https://aikencommunitytheatre.org/donate.

The theater is temporarily closed but can still be contacted at info@aikencommunitytheatre.org.

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