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Five things we loved about Colburn’s Community School Drama Class

Community Drama Class at Colburn School, Los Angeles

For the Fall Session, my daughter was invited by Colburn School to attend a Community School class (and for me to review). We chose the Creative Dramatics Class, for ages 5-7. It is a the class young students take to prepare them for the regular drama classes.

Located in Downtown Los Angeles and held on Saturday mornings, my husband and I enjoyed watching our five year old’s progress and enthusiasm for drama and improv. From September through December, she didn’t miss one class and looked forward to it every week. Here are some of the reasons why:

The Instructor

Debbie Devine, the instructor, is fantastic. She is an award-winning theater director, teacher, and respected leader in the field of arts education for over thirty years. [read her bio here] She is extremely skilled at capturing and keeping the children’s attention, and builds on what she taught the previous week. She has realistic expectations of the children but doesn’t dumb anything down because of their age. She packs a lot of punch in the 30 minute class and everyone walks away talking about what they learned and implementing it in their daily routine.

The Assistants

Community School Drama Class at Colburn in Los Angeles

Debbie uses students from other classes to assist with instruction and demonstrations. In my daughter’s class (which was for children ages 5-7), we had three wonderful regular assistants (Bjorn, Sam, and Noah), with an occasional substitute. The assistants learned skills through teaching and demonstrating acting principles through scenes, and taking the lead on several movement exercises.

The Format

Every week, the format for the 30 minute class was similar. The principles and themes changed out, but it was a progressive learning structure. I loved how the first thing Debbie asked of the kids in each class was “What’s your gospel?”

My daughter thought really hard about what she wanted her gospel to be each week, and I loved hearing what all the kids had to say. One girl seemed to always have a trip to Hawaii on the books, and everyone shared their excitement during the holidays. I remember one time, my daughter wanted to share something that I wanted to keep private between our family. She gave me the stink eye for the duration of gospel time while she kept our secret!

After the gospel is a movement exercise, which entails following the leader, a named person that changes out every couple minutes. The movement then progresses to a lesson, which is different each week. The lessons have included:

  • beginning to end (like growing from a seed to a tree)
  • the natural order of things (like your morning routine)
  • contrasts (like seasons and characters)
  • conflicts
  • dialogue and meaning
  • emotions
  • listening exercises and scene study
  • memorizing a scene
  • pantomiming
  • body shape and emotion
  • conflict with no resolution
  • opposite reactions

The Accompaniment

What I believe sets the mood for this class is there is the the piano accompaniment. Sam, one of the teacher’s assistants, usually plays the piano during the exercises. That additional element during the movement section, for example, really gives the students a 360 degree advantage in learning the craft.

The Confidence

Like most kids (and adults!), trying something new or meeting new people can be difficult. One of the best things Debby instilled in the first few classes was to really help the kids understand and adjust to their feelings about the situation. This, along with the other acting skills learned in class, are useful in all aspects of life. I enjoyed watching my daughter build her confidence every week. She looked forward to drama class, and not once did she say she didn’t want to go.

Thank you, Colburn School, for such a wonderful experience!

Drama Classes at Colburn

Drama classes at the Community School focus on the process of learning so students build confidence and are inspired to take creative risks. The Drama program begins with improvisation, body movement, and theater games, and progresses to monologue, scene work, script analysis, and character development. The program strongly emphasizes process over product, creating a learning environment in which students are free to explore and work without fear of judgment.

For detailed information and how to sign up, visit:


Colburn Community School

Community School

Enroll for Spring 2019!

Spring registration for continuing students opens January 4, and open enrollment for new students is January 11.

Link for enrollment: https://www.colburnschool.edu/community-school/enrollment-information/

Disclaimer: WestsideMommy was invited through a personal connection at Colburn School to attend and review a class. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. No monetary compensation was exchanged for this post.