Little clowns, pirates called

Sherilyn Hellier
Sherilyn Hellier
Ever fancied learning to juggle or walking the plank?

North Otago drama teacher Sherilyn Hellier is running two themed workshops on clowns and pirates for primary school children, on December 22 and 23, in the North Otago Arts Society building in Tyne St.

Mrs Hellier opened a drama school in October, an extension of a similar school she ran in Gore for 12 years.

While concentrating on drama now, she planned to work with pupils on public speaking and leadership next year and, ideally, would like to have a performance troupe.

Mrs Hellier has been involved in theatre for 30 years, including choreography and directing, and has been teaching for the past 14 years.

She has been to several clown workshops where skills such as juggling were learned.

The key was to start juggling with plastic bags, which moved slower than balls. "Everyone should have a skill like that. It's a great party trick," she said, laughing.

Participants in the clown workshop would also learn how to balance a long balloon on their forehead - another essential skill.

Children would learn "slapstick" comic theatre and, once they put on a funny hat or a bow-tie, they tended to lose their inhibitions quickly, she said.

Mrs Hellier was surprised how many children knew little about clowning, which she partly attributed to fewer circuses. While teaching a secondary school clowning workshop, she also discovered a lot of pupils were scared of clowns.

Mrs Hellier found a website that demonstrated how to talk like a pirate. "I thought ooh, aarrr, that looks like really good fun" and so for the pirate workshop, children will do mimes and improvisations based on "pirate type things".

Mrs Hellier is also involved with the recently-formed Friends of Living History, which will soon become an incorporated society.



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