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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

A little bit of drama can go a long way

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Melinda Saxe with Brian Mollet in the highly successful local production of Rona Munro’s ‘The Last Witch’ in 2018. Photo Michelle Ebray.

They say you should be careful what you wish for but in the case of actor Melinda (Min) Saxe she has made her own dreams come true and plenty of kids in the Byron Shire are benefitting. 

I always wished there was more opportunity for drama when I was at school and growing up so my inspiration for initiating kids drama classes in Mullumbimby comes from way back then,’ she says with an infectious smile. 

Min has over 30 years of stage and theatre experience that includes acting, writing, directing and producing, mostly in the northern rivers, Min has also performed in HAIR, Jesus Christ Superstar, Agatha Christie Murder Mysteries and more.

‘I have taught Drama at the Lismore Conservatorium of Arts, worked for Helen O’Grady Drama Academy and have been running Mullumbimby Drama independently for 12 years,’ she said.

Min is also a qualified teacher with a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) and a Bachelor of Education.

Keeping it relevant

‘One of the best things about “Mullumbimby Drama with Min” is that I write the curriculum myself based on the needs and interests of the kids at the time which means I can keep the material current and relevant to them. 

‘It is the kids themselves who inspire most of the performance material. During any given term the students will be involved in a number of different games, activities and improvisations which foster co-operation and teamwork skills, confidence building, creativity, effective communication and imagination while at the same time working on stagecraft and performance skills. 

‘We also do some voice work to improve projection and articulation and I use relevant theatre terms so if they audition for productions outside of our class they are savvy to what is going on.’

However, a big show on stage is not a given, while some classes are performance driven other classes prefer a more relaxed atmosphere that is not performance driven Min explains. 

‘I strongly believe that these students should never have a terrifying experience up on that stage,’ Min says with conviction.

‘A scary experience can ruin future potential stage, speech or performance opportunities and I won’t have that. It’s ok to be nervous because that means you care, but it’s not ok to be terrified because that means you are not ready.

‘I believe the students gain improved self-confidence from drama and the classes provide a safe, fun environment for free expression and creativity. 

One parent who’s child started drama classes last year said they were amazed at the confidence their son had developed since joining Min’s class. 

‘He’s always been very shy but since joining Min’s class he has become more confident in his day to day life and engaging in a broad range of social situations where he previously would hide behind me,’ said his Dad.

Safe environment

‘You can imagine the variety of personality types to confidence or skill levels I have had come through those doors,’ says Min. ‘There has never been any bullying or negativity. Many of these kids do not see each other outside of drama but once they are in that room, they are a team – It’s magic to watch.’

This year Min is looking at running three classes for juniors 6 to 9, tweens 10 to 12 and seniors 13+.

‘This is becoming necessary as the senior group kids are getting older and more mature. The concepts and subjects that might come up in class or during a spontaneous skit can occasionally be related to puberty or other teen issues which may not be age appropriate for the younger kids. I believe it is important for the older kids to be able to discuss and explore such subjects in class as it is a safe and comfortable environment to do so.

‘While I attempt to keep it all rated G it is fair to say that the seniors are at PG stage,’ she explains.

Classes run on a Tuesday afternoon in Mullumbimby. If you are interested in finding out more give Min a call as 6684 5025. 

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