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By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Most of the girls who were sitting on the floor inside of the Medfield Parks and Recreation building had been doing drama with Susie Pallis in one way or another for six years or more. “This is my favorite class because I’ve known these guys for so long. Sometimes I kind of have to tone these guys down so we don’t scare any newcomers,” Pallis laughed.
Pallis is the director of Drama Kids of Metro West, a program originally started with Australia that has spread all over the world. There are four different age groups: Kinderkids, which is ages three to five; Lower Primary, which is kindergarten through second grade; Upper Primary consisting of third to fifth grade; and Acting Academy which is grade six and up. “Once they hit the high school, usually by their sophomore year they fall of because they’re getting involved with the shows at school,” Pallis said.
The program does teach acting, but it’s much more than that. “The main part of the program is to build self-esteem and confidence, so we focus more on that than anything else,” Pallis said. “The technique and skills are very basic over them learning to be more confident.” Activities include a warm up, some sort of improv activity, speech training which focuses on articulation and projection, and movement.
Born and raised in California, Pallis pursued acting when she was younger. After discovering how cutthroat the industry is, she turned to teaching. After fifteen years of teaching pre-school and after school care, she stumbled across Drama Kids. “I had just gotten laid off from a school I was working with because the economy went down. I found Drama Kids in a little ad on a teacher’s website and it was everything I had ever wanted to do - done! I got all their info and worked it out and got into it, and been doing it ever since.”
The program is year-round: the first half of the year focuses on skills and becoming more comfortable, while the second half is when they begin practicing for their play. All of the shows are original, written for Drama Kids specifically.
Pallis’ enthusiasm and devotion can be felt throughout the room, and the warmth and excitement the kids feel radiates right back. Pallis concluded, “I love everything about it. I love getting to know the kids and getting to know their personalities. I love challenging them, and I love seeing them push themselves.”