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Classes Let Kids Act Out in Positive Ways

Youths can sign up for summer drama, dance or music programs or even work behind the scenes.


For kids in the Valley, there's a broad selection of summer youth activities devoted to make believe--where they can indulge the urge to put on a show or learn about the entertainment business from behind the scenes.

In Griffith Park and Northridge, kids will find opportunities to impersonate Western outlaws, sheriffs and kings as part of day-camp drama sessions.

In Burbank they can, as part of a new museum exhibit, find out how they would look in an animated movie playing opposite Daffy Duck.

In Universal City, they could be one of 1,600 teenagers hired to work in a behind-the-scenes movie studio tour.

The Autry Museum of Western Heritage, at the northeast edge of Griffith Park, is conducting a series of weeklong, western-themed day camps between late June and mid July. There will be some Saturday sessions as well, including one on July 6 from 1:30-3:30 p.m., entitled "Wild West Secret Decoders" (a la "The Shadow" but with western movie characters).

Kids can find out, through role-playing activities, what it was like to be a kid on the frontier, said Donna Dickerson, director of the sessions. They will also perform in reenactments such as "Lawmen and Outlaws" and "Indians and Mountain Men." There will be a class on western movie-making using a stagecoach.

Kids will learn to make frontier supplies such as candles, toys and games.

"Some will be shocked to discover there were no electric lights or TV then; many of them can't imagine a time before TV," said Dickerson.

* The Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 4700 Heritage Way, Los Angeles. Weeklong day camp and Saturday workshops June 24-July 19 for kids, 8 to 12, including filmmaking and western-themed make-believe activities. Fees vary from $65 to $150 per week. Some classes are 9 a.m.-noon, and some from 1-3 p.m. Reserve early; for more information, call (213) 667-2000.


For kids who have been bitten by a more serious acting bug, there's a full program of classes available on the Cal State Northridge campus for a month this summer. Children can have their pick of instruction in drama, dance, puppetry and music, all for one monthly fee. Sessions are aimed at grades one through six, but middle and high school classes are also available.

The program's coordinator, Madeline Jason, said participants can develop performance skills by participating in short plays, skits and pantomimes. The weighty theatrical questions kids will deal with, she said, include "Have you ever been a chicken? Would you like to be a king?"

* Elementary School Students' Summer Program at CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; July 1-Aug. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fee for the month is $400; enroll early; for more information, call (818) 885-3333.


Families with children 10 years and older may want to spend two hours on the Warner Bros. lot, where one of the new attractions is the museum. According to museum director David Horowitz, one display gives visitors a chance to see themselves on a TV monitor interacting with Daffy Duck.

How do you upstage a duck? Adopt a regal pose? Attack like a gamecock?

* The Warner Bros. museum, Hollywood Way at Olive Avenue, Burbank; includes exhibits on movie animation technique and history plus the opportunity to "see yourself in an animated movie." Included in the two-hour studio tour, open to visitors 10 and older on weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations required. For information, call 972-8687. (For full details of the museum, see story on F-1.)


Finally, there's a really serious way for a kid to scratch that theatrical itch this summer: Go to work behind the scenes in "the biz" at Universal Studios Hollywood. More than 1,000 youths, ages 16 and older, are being hired. They'll have a chance to sample a career in the world of make-believe by working in various areas of the park. According to director of employee selection, Richard DeJesu, this is the time to call for an interview.

* Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, is offering summer jobs for kids 16 and older. Apply by calling (818) 622-5627.

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