Learning to act the part
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent January 23, 2013 5:26PM
Taking part in theater class at the Plainfield Library are supervisor Joe Marcantonio (back, from left), Harrison Carcione and Caitline Mate; Annie Moritz (middle,from left), Emma Korp, Katherine Hahn-Boisvert, director of improv Jeff Matson, dBen Wielgos
If you go
What: Teen Drama Club
When: 5 to 6 p.m. the last Thursday of the month
Where: Plainfield Library, 15025 S. Illinois St., Plainfield
Who: Children grades 6 through 12
Visit: Teen Programs at www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:05PM
As a teen, acting coach and children’s theater director Devon Ford felt the thrill of bringing characters alive on stage, directing a student-led production and receiving awards for leadership in excellence and all-cast exceptional performance in acting.
Now Ford, 24, of Joliet, is bringing the same to local junior and senior high school students.
Since August, Ford has led a monthly Teen Drama Club at the Plainfield Public Library, where she teaches a dozen youngsters the proper techniques for such skills as stage makeup, scene study, monologues, acting tips and improv games.
On Thursday the club’s focus will be on scene writing and performance. On Feb. 28 the youths will create a character and design its costume.
“I want kids to grow up with an understanding of the arts and the importance of experiencing emotions and having other people relate to them,” Ford said. “It’s almost like a human bonding thing.”
Ford’s love for theater began when she was 13 and signed up — at her mother’s suggestion — for acting classes at the Rialto School for the Arts. There, Ford learned to feel and express “raw human emotions;” she also liked helping the audience deeply feel those emotions.
During her years at Joliet West High School, Ford performed in the school plays and participated in speech team and group interpretation. It was through these outlets that Ford earned her awards.
One of Ford’s finest experiences was directing “Killjoy,” the school’s first student-led production. Profits from that event, Ford said, were donated to Easter Seals Joliet Region. That’s when Ford knew she preferred directing to acting.
“With acting you just create a character,” Ford said. “When you direct, you watch your dream and vision get built from the ground up and shaped into reality.”
After graduation, Ford acted in productions at Lewis University in Romeoville and with the Joliet Drama Guild at the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in Joliet. From there, Ford worked as an extra for the television shows “Boss” and “Underemployed.” A year ago, Ford co-directed “Death Trap,” a Joliet Drama Guild production.
Those experiences solidified for Ford her staunch preference for theater. Soon afterward, Ford learned from young adult librarian Joe Marcantonio that the Plainfield Library wanted to offer a drama club for teens, so Ford approached the staff with some of her ideas.
Ford serves as the club’s director of acting; Jeff Matson of Joliet is director of improv.
In June, Ford will direct a murder mystery for teens and children.
Eventually, Ford, a server and bartender at Durbin’s of Plainfield, would like to found and operate her own drama guild. She recently won a role in the play “Another Day,” written by Luke Pascale of Plainfield and produced by the Joliet theater group Latitude 41. Performances of “Another Day” are scheduled for April at Bicentennial Park.
“To be a good teacher, I think it’s important to continually learn new things so I can build up their acting to the style of mine,” Ford said. “The more outside experience I have, the better my skills will be.”