Acting & Theater for Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello,

    I would appreciate any recommendations for a drama/theater camp this summer that would be welcoming to my neurodivergent (ASD, highly verbal and outgoing, can be rigid and anxious), non-binary 10 year old. Most of the posts about theater camps I found were from more than five years ago, so I'd love some more recent experiences. Not aiming for a Broadway level production...looking more for a fun, inclusive and warm environment. Thanks so much!

    Contra Costa Civic Theater Camp has a wonderful summer camp in El Cerrito.They are very accepting of all kinds of children and have been a great asset to the community for many years.The camps fill up fast so I would check on the day registration opens.

    Our child is neurotypical but has anxiety issues. They like Mr. D's Music Camp (it incorporates all aspects of performance arts -- acting, singing, dancing, art.) and Berkeley Playhouse summer camp. Mr. D's is a very warm and supportive environment and kids have a great time. It's run by Mr. and Mrs. D. Berkeley Playhouse is more specifically theater focused and the camps sell out really fast as soon as it is announced. My kid says it's better to do the camp with a friend at Berkeley Playhouse, as many kids sign up with existing friends or already know each other from regular school year classes. They say signing up without an existing friend at Mr. D's camp is not an issue. Friends are made quickly. 

    Hi Rose in Bloom,

    I'm the programmer this year for the Bay Area Country Dance Society's Family Week. It's a week-long sleepaway camp for the whole family at Monte Toyon in Aptos, CA. Activities mostly center around traditional dance forms (English Country, Contra, Irish), and this year we're adding a special kids' (beginning) dance track (there are also really fun family dances for all in the evenings). This year we will also be offering a theater track, taught by Susan Frontczak of Colorado. We have had several neurodivergent and non-binary kids at camp in the past, and they have really thrived. The community is warm and welcoming and very supportive. I encourage you to check out the website, Hope that's helpful! Anne

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  • Acting classes for shy/reticent kids? 8-10?

    (5 replies)

    Any positive (or negative) experiences with local acting classes for reticent/shy mid-age kids (8-10?)

    I'm hoping drama might help my kid open up a bit and have seen them overlooked/ignored in these kinds of classes.

    I know it's not possible to tailor fit, but a class with a sensitive/interested teacher and kids who aren't the stereotypical "drama kid" kids (even though we know/love kids like this--I just mean confident/wanting the main role kinds of kids.)

    Both my kids did the Berkeley Rep middle school camp for three summers.  My oldest is more outgoing and loved it, and my youngest is very shy and reserved.  He also loved it!  He is 16 now and sometimes mentions that he draws on his experience at acting camp when he has to do presentations in class.  Neither continued with acting, but I think it was a really good experience overall for both of them.  

    Berkeley Rep had some very good classes and a wide variety of kids participating. If Rebecca Castelli is still there, she is a wonderful teacher.

    Look at the SF Shakespeare camps! They are tremendous. My daughter did them from elementary thru high school. She really wanted to try acting, but couldn’t shine in her school environment because she was a little quieter than other girls. SF Shakes was terrific for her. Everyone gets a part, the staff are so inclusive, and they really bring out the best in everyone. They also have Saturday programs during the school year. 

    ACT Young Conservatory classes might work well. Choose the acting ones, musical theater, though, because the musical theater tends to attract bigger personalities, and differences in singing ability can be intimidating. These classes are not performance-based, meaning there is no finished play at the end; instead, there is a planned workshop / open class the parents come watch, which is more conducive to equal inclusion, both in class and in the final open class showing. Everyone works on their monologues or scenes and performs them. All the kids, even the quieter ones, receive attention to their work and have their moment to shine. No one plays a waiter with a single one-word line, you know? In my opinion, these classes are worth the BART trip. My daughter used to do them on Saturday mornings. I’d hang out downtown —do errands or work in a cafe— for the two hours and then we’d have lunch and BART back. Those mornings are such a nice memory now. 

    We have found Mr. D's Music Club, which has an after school program as well as summer camps, to be really great for a non-stereotypical "drama" kid. They are very kind and great with shy kids or kids who aren't gunning for a spotlight on stages. It's not exclusively acting but it involves singing, dancing, acting, and arts. The variety is what my child likes and kids are very not serious. My goofy kid and her 2 besties who are very shy and quiet all love this camp. 

  • Drama class for a 4-year-old?

    (1 reply)

    Hi, I'd like to enroll my shy 4-year-old in a drama class to help her get more comfortable with attention.  I found several east bay drama classes but none for 4-year-olds.  Does anyone know of a performing arts school that works with young children?

    We have a 5 year old who is super into putting on plays at preschool but we have held off on drama programs. His preschool teachers suggested holding off another year before enrolling in a drama program because the structure can be a lot at a young age. Perhaps consider a music class like Jon’s School of Music (we are longtime attendees). Your child can ease into having it be their turn to make up a rhythm, or sing into the mic or whatever and can warm up to it slowly in a low stakes way. So, not exactly what you were asking for but perhaps another idea to consider! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Acting Classes for a 4 year old

Oct 2009

Any ideas for a preferably group acting class for a four year old? d

I don't know that I would call Glitter & Razz ''Acting Classes'' per se - as they don't go through the different METHODs or make kids memorize lots of lines, but the Itty Bitty Drama Camps they do (kids 4-6) are fantastic for little ones who love being on stage, using their creativity and imagination and making these dreams come to life using their words and bodies. My five year old has been attending G drama classes and play in a day camps since he turned 4. The staff there have taught him much beyond what I expected. Last summer, they not only practiced art, drama, and fun movement, they also discussed and did role plays about conflict resolution, sharing, and being nice. You can check out their programs at or call 510.654.7166. Also they are really convenient - right in Rockridge. hil

My 4 year old daughter spent two weeks at Glitter & Razz 's Itty Bitty camp this past summer (for 4-7 year olds) and she absolutely loved it! With the help of the teachers, the kids dream up characters and storylines for plays that they perform for their parents at the end of each week. They put together their own costumes and do the artwork for the set. The process is collaborative, creative and fun! Every child's ideas are valued and they each participate in a way that is appropriate for their age, personality, etc. Lynn and her staff are simply fabulous and I was very impressed by the way they work with the group. They nurture imagination and confidence while also helping the kids develop self-awareness, empathy and social skils such as conflict resolution. I can't say enough about Glitter & Razz and I just signed my daughter up for the ''Play in a Day'' camp on November 11th. In addition to their website, I'd encourage you to check out their Facebook page where Lynn sent out daily updates during the camp. You are also more than welcome to contact me if you'd like to hear more. - Deb deb

Young Drama Queen looking for Venue

Dec 2008

I have an 8 year old budding actress. She has taken some theater classes, but now she is interested in being in a ''real play''. Not being much of a stage mom myself, I'm not really sure where to find such an opportunity. I grew up down the Peninsula where there was a children's theater in town, is there such a thing in the East Bay? andrea

Children's Fairyland will be holding auditions for next year's productions in January: They select three casts of ten 8-10-year-olds, rehearse from March or so and then perform starting in June and running through October. Each of the casts generally performs every third weekend, two shows on Saturday and two on Sunday (i.e., they rotate the casts so there's a two week break, then a heavy performance weekend, for each cast). After that there's a holiday show that performers can volunteer for, combining players from all three casts... the 2008 performers will be doing that this coming weekend, and next, and it might be a great opportunity to meet and talk with them (and see the performance venue... this year was on the brand new $3M stage). Our daughter has been in it the last two years, and it's been wonderful. Ross

I would reccomend Kids Take the Stage . Heather

I want to recommend the Berkeley Playhouse They put on kid-friendly plays and also run theater classes and other programs. We went to see the BFG (based on Roald Dahl's book) with two jaded 7-year-old boys last month and it was fabulous - funny, wildly inventive, lots of great kid and teen acting. Our kids were totally transfixed the entire time, and that's saying a lot. Check out their website. I think it's a wonderful thing for kids to be able to see live theater that is fun for the parents too -- we are lucky to have this group in Berkeley! Ginger

You don't say what city you're in, but I'll recommend Town Hall Theatre 's children's programs in Lafayette. It is very near BART and HWY 24, so it is easy to get to from Berkeley, Oakland, Lamorinda (obviously), Walnut Creek, and Pleasant Hill. Their kids' programs are great. Each culminates with a play on the theater stage, sometimes on multiple nights, depending on the program. The directors are fabulous and they have several programs based on age that go from age 4 to to 18. Mary

If you are looking for a great musical theatre class for kids, there is a hidden gem at Kids N Dance in the Laurel district in Oakland and in Lafayette and Orinda. In the Oakland studio they have a Beginning Theatre on Thursdays (age 6-12), Intermediate Theatre on Mondays (age 8-14) and a lot of ''Little Theatre'' classes for age 4-6. The classes culminate in two full performances. Check it out! Stage mom

Performing Arts Classes for 9 year old

Aug 2008

My nine year old is ready to start Performing Arts and theater classes. Can you recommend an after school theater program in the North Oakland/ Emeryville/ Berkeley/ Albany area? Drama Queen parent

A great place for performing arts is Kids N Dance in Oakland's Laurel District! They have several choices for a 9 year old, depending on the experience she already has. Beginning Theatre is lots of fun and can be very low key for the timid (chorus roles) and more challenging roles for those who are ready for it. Intermediate Theatre focuses on more skills and has more challenging roles. There is also a Audition and Theatre Skills class, and a class for parents to do with their children (Family Theatre). You should definitely check them out. Brenda

Drama Classes for 10 year old

October 2003

Anyone know of any on-going drama classes during the school year for a 10-year old? Thanks! lb

YES! I will repeat a recent recommendation for kids in grades 3-5. I don\x92t know if it\x92s too late for the fall session, but I highly recommend First Stage . It meets Tuesdays, 3:45-5:50, usually at Wildcat Studio (8th Street Berkeley, near Dwight). They do a few rehearsals, and perform, at the Julia Morgan Theater. They run two 10-12 week sessions each year. Give the director, Sue Walton, a call. Her phone number is 415-647- 0914. The plays are written to include interesting parts for every actor, and the kids have a great time. R.K.

Try Berkeley Rep School of Theater . They have four sessions a year. for ages 5 and up. My 6-year-old has had just 3 weeks of her class, but she is thrilled with it. anonymous

Drama for 5-8 year olds

August 2003

I am looking for a drama experience for my kids in an after school program. I'd love for at least my 7-year-old to be able to be a part of a play, the kind that rehearses throughout the semester and then has a performance or two at the end. I suppose many schools do this, but not the one my daughters go to. Also, I have checked the website, but the recs I saw were either for older kids or for the Julia Morgan center (which I think seems to follow more of a workshop-type, develop-your- actor's-skills method rather than staging a production of Oliver or something). Any recommendations? Thanks Allison

If it's not too far for you, you might check out Young Performers Theatre at Fort Mason. They have drama classes for kids age 3 through 12, as well as performances featuring kids. I'm not sure how many of the students perform, but call and find out: 415-346-5550 Burr Tyler

My 9-yr-old son and his friends have enjoyed the First Stage after school drama class since third grade. (The flyer says age 8-11, but if your daughter is close to 8, they might take her). They do not do something like \x93Oliver!\x94, but a musical play written or adapted by the co-directors. They have been doing this for over 15 years, and the instructors are wonderful. They write the plays so there are not just a few \x93star\x94 roles while everyone else is in the background. Instead, while parts vary in size (as kids vary in their comfort level), every child has a role that is important to telling the story. Everyone sings and dances (simple steps, no dance experience is needed), as well as acting. The kids can also help make the scenery and props. The class meets at Wildcat Studio (on 8th street in Berkeley, near Dwight), and perform at Julia Morgan (a REAL theatre!). Classes meet on Tuesday afternoon from 3:45-5:30, with a couple of extra Monday rehearsals close to show time. It runs 10-12 weeks. Contact Registrar KC Chapek at 510-530-8804. Or, from Sept. 5- 16, contact Sue Walton at 415-647-0914. I don\x92t think they have a web site. R.K.

Hi Allison. We go to the Glenview Performing Arts Center (right off Park Blvd. in Oakland) for dance, and I noticed on their calendar they do have a drama class for kids (ages 5-12) starting September on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5pm. The fall session ends with a low-pressure presentation/ show for family and friends. Tuition is $40/ month for 1 class per week or $66/month for 2 classes per week. This seems to me to be the most affordable dance/drama studio around! Additionally, there are auditions coming up for the holiday show of ''T'was The Night Before Christmas''. I think they are auditioning kids from 5 years up to adult for the show, but you need to commit to regular rehersals and then 6 shows/weekend for two weekends in December. The studio has a new website at Good luck! Tiffany

Drama Classes for 4-year-old

July 2003

I'm looking for an acting/singing/theater class or group for my four year old boy. He always has had a strong affinity for all things musical and in the past year has begun to develop ''class clown'' skills as well (according to his preschool teacher) -- basically he's a musical ham. He's been begging me to be in a play since he saw his first musical 6 months ago, so I'm thinking it's time to explore this a bit. Recommendations on the website are 3 years old, and I'm having a hard time getting any info from the various kids musical theater groups in the area about places for kids this age. We may do a week at the Julia Morgan this summer, but beyond that I'm lost. Any recommendations or leads, anywhere in the area, would be appreciated. Thanks! Tara

Recommendations received:

  • Julia Morgan Theater Camp
    March 2000

    My daughter is 4 and is very outgoing and dramatic. She loves to sing, dance and act things out. I'm looking for a good school where I can enroll her in some acting or drama classes so I can direct all this energy in some creative way. Last week during dinner she climbed up on the stage and announced herself, and then proceeded to dance for everyone, bowing at the end to the entire restaurant... Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. bijou

    Kids On Camera is a program that accepts children as young as age 4. (See recommendations for Kids on Camera ) Dawn
    My daughter is enrolled in the Elementary School of Arts and Sciences on Broadway. Although it is an Elementary School K-3, they do have a summer program for musical theater and an after school which starts in mid April for musical theater as well. I know Carol Smith (the director of the school) for five years now and I believe that it is the best program in theater, singing, performing for very young age. Also, you make want to consider the school itself for your daughter since their curiculum includes at least three theatrical performances per year. Their phone number is: 658-5443 Elena

    Classes for 7-year-old

    March 2002

    I'm looking for an acting class for a seven year old boy who is very energetic and creative. I've put him in the Julia Morgan classes where he was grouped with 4 and 5 year olds as well. Too juvenile. We're looking for something he can really sink his teeth into and have fun...any suggestions? We are willing to drive into SF on weekends. This is just for fun, we've no professionlal aspirations. An East Bay Mom


  • California Shakespeare Theater

    Shakespeare acting classes for 10-year-old

    December 2001

    Hi, I'm looking for a Shakespeare acting class for my 11 year old daughter. She worked with the Actor's Centre for a production this fall, and loved it! I've looked at the listings on the web site, but not come up with anything. I'd love to know about classes in the East Bay or Contra Costa. Thanks Dyanna


  • California Shakespeare Theater
  • Berkeley Rep