Discovering The Playground
Discovering The Playground By: Brea Tisdale
They say kids are some of the most honest people, they haven’t been around long enough to be “tainted” or jaded by society. They don’ understand tact, or the concept behind a “white lie.” They are real, honest and define the definition of living in the moment.
For Gary Spatz, Director of “The Playground” this is exactly what he does. When I met Gary I walked into what looked like the most amazing place to hang out, play, discover and find my inner child. His studio consists of multiple rooms, with different types of sets, and “playgrounds.” Even though it was silent when I was there, I could tell these walls were graced with the presence of innocent creativity, laughing children and kids learning what it is to be an actor.
Gary says it is his privilege to be working with children. He spends all his weekend down at the studio, running around “The Playground.” Spatz explains teaching children is unique because they absorb so much, so you are inevitably making a large impact on who they will become.
Spatz explains that kids keep you grounded, forcing you to be a better teacher, more engaged, conquering challenges. You have to keep the children constantly involved, so they aren’t “skipping” out on you. So her is constantly updating his material and lessons. In fact, he has a huge library of scripts ranging from television shows, past and present, films and theater. So there is always something for everyone, allowing a young actor to really expand his or her wings.
Gary worked as an acting coach and creative consultant on the Mickey Mouse Club, and he said it was such a pleasure to watch the kids (which I think we all know who these very famous group of young ones are) stay on the path and continue their journey, I suppose that is one of the major benefits to coaching young children, you get to see them evolve into the superstars we all know them as.
The challenges Gary and the teachers (who by the way, are all actors themselves!) find is that you have to keep everything playful. Gary says that acting is a child’s art form, adults have to give themselves permission to pretend, children on the other hand, are escaping reality at all times. They will trust in the reality that you tell them to be true. So when they escape to the moments on the script, they exist in this world, they are a part of it.
Let’s be honest thought, dealing with children can be very difficult at times too. It takes a special person to be able to do the things Gary Spatz does. He has the essence of a child, the insight of an adult, and a heart of gold. The magic that happens over at The Playground you can tell is real, honest and empowering, if I wasn’t 25 years old I would have been down at The Playground myself.