Haley Nelson and Jessica Harris rehearseLast week for her week-long theater camp, Jessica Harris had 24 children aged 5 to 12.  This week it is the older kids’ turn, featuring seven kids aged 12 to 14.

“We had a fabulous week at Carysbrook Performing Arts Center. Of the students who participated in last week’s camp, most had never set foot on stage before,” said Harris. “Students learned basic theater knowledge such as stage directions and projection, and also learned character development techniques and 11 songs to boot.”

Partnering with Harris is Haley Nelson, who is studying drama at George Mason University. Together, these two young women are an impressive pair when it comes to teaching kids about drama and the basics of theater. Harris, who started the Empowered Players as a teenager, shows an infinite passion and dedication to her craft and understands learning the basics early for success later on the stage.

It is amazing to watch this young woman, barely out of her teens, conduct a session with her students in an efficient, organized, direct and creative way, encouraging imagination through writing and improvisation while learning about stage presence, expression, body movement and projection. Add a comment


Troy WeidenheimerWhen using reference photos for painting, it is always a good idea to know whether the photo you’re referencing is even worth painting, according to artist Troy Weidenheimer, who spoke to a group of Fluvanna Art Association (FAA) members on Friday (June 16).

“Garbage in and garbage out,” he said, describing the dilemma most novice artists have in choosing photos that are poor in compositional quality – something many artists never stop to contemplate. This relates to photos that the artist has taken or has permission to use.

“How do you analyze photos and then what do you do once you have found an appropriate photo?” he asked. Before artists looks for potential problems in photos, they first must determine what type of art they are creating. He pointed out that while illustrations are an exact replica of what is in the photo, fine art goes beyond the literal rendering. “It interprets and enhances elements of the photo in the most artistic and visually pleasing way,” he said, adding that originality inspires the creative process. Add a comment


Watercolor painting by Linda BethkeArtist Linda Bethke has her own philosophy when it comes to her watercolor paintings. She shared her thoughts and discussed her style and techniques at the monthly meeting of the Fluvanna Art Association (May 19).

She began talking about the unusual circumstances that led her to art as well as music in her childhood.

“When you can’t run and play you draw and play the piano,” she said, leaving some curious as to what she meant. She was told at an early age she would never walk due to deformed feet and twisted ankles. There seemed to be nothing that could be done for her club feet. The daughter of a military doctor, he found the only surgeon who could do the surgery but was told by the surgeon, “You can’t afford me.” That did not deter her parents who, through the Shriners, were able to have this surgeon perform what was close to a miracle for Bethke.

Once past the hurdles of her physical problems, Bethke could run and play but still chose to make art her focus. But when it came time for her to go to college her parents, like many, were skeptical that anyone could make a living from art, no matter how gifted.

“My father was a practical man, so I went to college and became a teacher and taught third grade,” she said. While she taught she continued to share her love of art with her students, which kept her passion alive.

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Fluvanna County Library Director Cyndi Hoffman is excited about a unique experience for children this summer at the library: two live theater performances of Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast performed by the Hampstead Stage Company, a traveling troupe of actors based in New Hampshire.

The company was named for the four founders who were originally from Hampstead, England, and realized their dream of having a theater company to engage and educate. The theater has been around since 1983 and has grown into one of the largest educational theater companies in the U.S. with 2,000 shows a year.

Through the animation of two actors who perform multiple roles and quick changes, their shows encourage reading books and plays through the magic of performing. Children are treated to original adaptations drawn from literary classics, including Frankenstein and Robin Hood as well as authors like C.S. Lewis and Charles Dickens. Fairy tales and fantasy are brought to life by actors who energize their young audience, nurturing imagination and wonder. Add a comment


Carol EddyCarol Eddy’s elaborate and detailed work on a petite scale is astounding. Not one of her unique jewelry pieces is the same. Though she crafts them with precision her creative whimsy is obvious, especially in her spoon pendants that feature all kinds of little things from pearls to delicate little flowers, hearts, tea cups and butterflies. Her work is reminiscent of the Victorian jewelry designers, where graceful yet flawless details were added into every piece.

Eddy also has a neuromuscular disease, called Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, which causes a gradual loss of muscle that is not regained. Hip weakness was the first thing she noticed. Having lost her ability to walk, she is now confined to her scooter to get around the house. It has now affected her shoulders and she is unable to lift her arms very high, but said she can easily work at a table with her supplies in front of her.

“Gradually I lost function from the age of 29, but it was slow enough that I could keep ahead of the disease and adjust the way I do things.  My hands have always been one of my greatest assets,” she said. “As a quilter, I could do tiny stitches piecing together pieces of cloth. Now I do another kind of piecing with E6000 glue instead of thread. My hands are working for me, but they, too, will get weaker over time. When that time comes, I’ll just have to find another way to find a happy pastime. I never give up.”

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