Curtain Call on Black History Month

Alexander Gent

Lewis and Clark Community College hosted a presentation by Leah Becoat of 3 Purple Coats Productions on Feb 28. in the Benjamin Godfrey Chapel as one of the last events on the calendar of Black History Month (BHM) celebrations. LCCC students and faculty, as well as students from local schools in the area, were invited to participate in an interactive activity designed to help the students develop improv and acting skills, as well as a sense of confidence for the children about their skills.

Jared Hennings welcomed the students, gave a brief description of the previous events celebrated in honor of BHM, and commented on its success as well as the importance of events like the play.

“I personally feel that theater is a very direct way to reach the kids while entertaining, informing and educating,” Hennings said before yielding the stage to Becoat.

“The stage is a place for discovery,” Becoat addressed the excitedly murmuring crowd of school children. “Acting allows you to become something you can only be in your imagination”.

The focus of Becoat’s presentation was on the acronym D.A.A.D.D. Alongside anecdotes, such as her story of developing eczema at a young age and dealing with the hardships it brought. Becoat then explained the meaning behind the letters, and how to implement this philosophy.

D is for discovery. Discover personal talents, strength, and potential. The first A is for agree; it is important for one to be in personal agreement with their self about having these talents and potential.

The second A stands for align, in regards to aligning with people who agree about these talents and potential. The last two Ds stand for develop and distribute, and as such, it is important to develop this talent that has been discovered, as well as continuing to distribute this “gift” to the world.

In groups of three, children gathered on the stage, made a selection from the box of stage props provided by Becoat, and were instructed to perform a short improvisational scene created with their collective imaginations.

With props including innocuous items such as hats, sunglasses, aprons, and umbrellas, some of the students were more successful than others at getting a positive reaction from the crowd.

After a demonstration of the “Gibberish-Game”, an exercise designed  for helping stage performers warm up their vocals as well as relax, Angelica Jones, a performer with “3 Purple Coats”  since the age of 9, explained how performing with the group helped her develop not only her acting skills but also a sense of confidence in herself as well.

“Performing with 3 Purple Coats has taught me that it’s okay to try new things,” Jones explained. “And if I had never tried this I probably wouldn’t have the confidence that I do today.”

“Teaching just seemed to come naturally to me,” said Becoat in a brief interview after the presentation offering some insight into factors that helped inspire her to pursue a career in writing, producing and performing stage plays. “There was always quite an appeal for seeing my words come to life on stage.”

Attendants in the crowd included students from Alton High School, students between first and eighth grade from Children’s Tribe, as well as middle school students from Alton Middle School, and East Alton-Wood River.

“We had two students volunteer to participate so I believe the workshop helped inspire the student’s aspirations of getting involved with theater and performing drama,” said Jennifer Rawe a teacher and academy manager at Children’s Mom.

3 Purple Coats Productions is a Performance Art Theater, located at 914 Hampton Ave in Alton. 3 Purple Coats is determined to teach youth and adults the fundamentals of theater and acting and helping them discover and develop their talents through creative art.

Anyone interested in joining 3 Purple Coats Productions or viewing their performances may visit their page on Facebook for more information, or call 618-670-2395.

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