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Youth theater is making a move to old schoolhouse

Classes will focus on improvisation, characterization and story-building and be divided into two age groups: 7- to 10 year-olds and 11- to 14-year-olds.

Children will return to the Old Lutz Schoolhouse when the Stageworks Rainbow Tribe Youth Theater moves its summer program here from downtown Tampa.

The program is leaving its last home, the University of Tampa's Falk Theatre, because of space limitations.

Anna Brennen, the founding director of the Tampa-based, non-profit theater company Stageworks, said Lutz is the perfect location for the youth program. "It's a popular place to live now. A lot of people moving in are families with youngins, and we need to hook them on theater."

Brennen started the multiracial Stageworks in 1984 because of a lack of theater for minorities and people of different cultures. "There was no theater that embraced everyone and addressed social issues," she said.

Stageworks offers theater classes for both children and adults. Its main stage is at the Hillsborough Community College-Ybor City campus.

The Youth Theater, Brennen said, is a way of expanding the company's services to places beyond downtown Tampa.

The six-session Saturday class will be divided into two age groups: 7- to 10 year-olds and 11- to 14-year-olds. Both will focus on improvisation, characterization and story-building. After the students complete the program, they will show off their talents in a performance at Barnes & Noble in Carrollwood.

No experience in theater is needed to participate in the summer program, said Bridget Richardson Beam, who will instruct the class. "Apart from having a great attitude, nothing else is required."

"This is a wonderful way of teaching children discipline and cooperation, and at the same time, creating a sense of confidence and joy," said Brennen. "It's a great learning tool."

Both classes are limited to 12 students, and spaces are still available. Children should register by May 29. Cost is $95. Parents can obtain registration forms at their local library or by calling Stageworks at (813) 251-8984.