De Reid, owner of Dramavita has the solution for parents looking for the ultimate extracurricular activity for their children. The former school teacher now offers day classes, week-long camps and stage productions all based around using drama to help youth explore, create, discover and grow. There is something for everyone, from the extroverted child that loves to sing on stage to the analytically minded that keeps everything running smoothly backstage. Creatives are a good match for costume and set design. De ensures each position, in front or behind the curtain, is the position that best serves the child.
“Although I started Dramavita in January 2022, this has been a 25-year process,” shares De. “I was a teacher in the public school system for two decades. On my first day of class I thought to myself, ‘I’d love to open up a teaching/production studio of my own.’ That stayed in the back of my head all these years. I left teaching three years ago and realized there is no reason why I couldn’t make that dream come true now.”
But two years ago was when COVID hit. That was a major complication alongside De’s sudden journey into finding a space and working with realtors, obtaining financing, writing a business plan, getting permits, renovating the space and so much more.
“The process was exciting but also terrifying!” De admits. “The renovation of the space alone took six months. I’m a teacher – technology challenged me in getting a digital footprint established. It took two years to bring it all together.”
But now the doors are open and her dream is coming true. Winter classes just ended, and the next round of spring and summer classes are poised to begin. She has also found a true community of parents and other supporters helping her with the technology side of things and giving advice on how to keep building the brand.
As for the youth, they are the real winners in all of this.
“The children can read for any parts of the production they want. Then we play for a few hours on the first day of class. What they don’t realize is that I’m teasing out their best strengths during this play time. I’ll ask them to read lines as certain characters. I make it all fun and energetic. The kids start to recognize where they will best fit into the production by themselves. I simply empower them. I create the environment that get kids on board. You can tell the ones that don’t want to act, but we can use sound people and lighting people and set changers. They can be involved in other ways; I work to their comfort level.”
The effects of drama for children as an activity are profound.
“It increases the kid’s confidence. They discover their creativity, confidence and determination. I’ve had many years as a teacher to observe this. One of the biggest outcomes in any production is positive mental health. The children learn so much from their ability to gather skills; they can apply these skills to other life situations. When we work on an outcome (such as a play) we start to understand ourselves individually and as a collective team. We connect with each other and we learn about trust. We learn about focus. We learn about understanding how we impact the person next to us. The effects last a lifetime.”
De concludes, “Success is important. It helps you cope with the times you don’t have success. Dramavita is more than a place for children and youth to engage in theatre. It gives them a place to be seen and heard, to learn and grow.”