ENMU students, local children to perform play

Freedom New Mexico: Portales News-Tribune

Argen Duncan

College students and local children are taking on a leprechaun who won’t wear green, mean girls and confusion over the meaning of Cinco de Mayo.

Seventeen Eastern New Mexico University theatre students and around two dozen children are putting on the humorous play “The HOWLS Detective Agency — Helping Out With Large Situations” 4 p.m. Thursday at the college’s University Theatre Center.

“Basically they’re detectives that are helping out with problems of a goofy nature,” said Rojun Alexander, a senior in theatre performance.

Comedic commercials are interspersed among problem-solving episodes.

The performance comes as part of the “Production in Children’s Theatre” class Professor of Theatre Janeice Scarbrough is teaching this semester. Alexander said the first two weeks, students brought games and talked about theatre workshops for children.

The ENMU students came up with the detective agency theme and wrote a script. They included a scene on Cinco de Mayo since the play shows May 5 and incorporated ideas from improvised scenes participating children had done.

“The kids inspired half the play,” Scarbrough said.

Then the children from Clovis and Portales auditioned and started rehearsals.

“I think it’s really fun because I get to do a lot of stuff, fun stuff,” said 7-year-old Jaden Ramirez.

Adriana Southern, 12, also said the play was fun and she liked being with her friends on stage. She plays a variety of roles, including a teenage bear and a mother.

In one of his roles, Jaden plays a chick, and in his favorite scene, he pokes Santa Claus. He said his favorite part is acting and reciting the lines.

“I learned to just have fun and say your lines and be just really excited,” Jaden said.

Scarbrough said Jaden was reserved when practice began but has become more talkative.

That coming out of their shell is something Scarbrough said she hopes the children take from the experience, along with fun, teamwork and confidence.

“Also, I think they just automatically gain empathy to understand other people, to understand what’s going on with other people,” she said.

Scarbrough wants her college students to learn, “how to work fast on their feet, how to share with kids the beauty and learning possibility of theatre.”

Alexander said the production showed him the joy of teaching. Before, he didn’t know how to teach and didn’t want to after graduation.

“But it’s opened doors for me to accept the possibility that I could teach,” Alexander said.

Brianna Pilon, a junior theatre major with a design emphasis, said she conducted a design workshop. She expected the children to be apprehensive, but they “went to town” designing a set, lighting and a costume for a male and a female.

“It was a really neat experience,” Pilon said, adding that she would be willing to go farther in children’s theatre.

Fast facts

What: “The HOWLS Detective Agency — Helping Out With Large Situations” play

When: 4 p.m. Thursday

Where: Studio Theater, ENMU University Theatre Center

Cost: Free