Broadway actress Camp holds workshop

Bill San Antonio

For Actress Molly Camp playing Marian in the Broadway production of “The Heiress” was the easy part.

The hard part, she said, was  holding an actor’s workshop March 22 as part of the Manhasset Public Library’s Young Friends of the Library, an after-school program for teens. 

“I was telling someone I was hosting an acting workshop and that I was really nervous,”Camp said. “So I said I was just going to tell [the students] I was Justin Bieber.”

Camp moderated a series of warm-up exercises and improvisational games with the teens in attendance at the workshop, and answered questions they had about working in the entertainment industry.

Librarian Susan Nolan, who oversees the Young Friends of the Library program, said many of the teens who worked with Camp will be performing in the library’s upcoming production of “The Brothers Grimm Spectacularthon,” an ode to classic children’s fairytales.

“There’s a huge contingent of teens in Manhasset that have the acting bug and are really into theater,” Nolan said.

The teens each received one hour of community service for their participation, to go toward the Manhasset School District’s required 85 hours during the school year.

Nolan said many of the Young Friends of the Library members also help with the library’s events aimed at younger children, and that it’s an easy way for students to reach their service quota, particularly during their senior year, when an additional 15 required hours are added.

“The Young Friends of the Library gives Manhasset teenagers a chance to be heard as to what kinds of activities they’d like to see us hold,” Nolan said. “They told us they wanted an actor or actress to hold a workshop and teach them about the business, and luckily we were able to get Molly to come and visit us.”

The 28-year-old Camp, who earned her BFA in theater from Otterbein University in Ohio, has also appeared on episodes of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Gossip Girl” and “All My Children,” but said working in theater gives her a more fulfilling acting experience than television does.

“I really like the rehearsal process [of theater] because you really get close with the people you’re working with,” Camp said. “TV usually goes by so fast, maybe because I’ve never really worked on anything for more than two days, so I’m sure for regulars it’s different, but in theater you’re really able to get to know the character you’re playing and try things you wouldn’t be able to for the screen.”

Under Camp’s direction, the group played an improvisation game called “Customer Service,” in which one actor returns a product to a customer service representative but, through hearing a series of clues provided by the representative throughout the exercise, has to guess what that product is.

The teens then taught Camp a more nuanced version of the game modeled after a Mad TV sketch in which a participant tries to order a complicated menu item at a fast-food chain, but whose service is refused by another participant acting as the restaurant’s cashier.

Camp stressed the importance of stretching prior to beginning a rehearsal session as a way to rid the body of stress, which could pose a distraction once the actor gets into character.

“A physical warm-up is a good way to get rid of the tension you’ve built up throughout the day so you can be free to step into the characters you’ll be playing,” she said.

Nolan said the Young Friends of the Library have also requested a babysitting workshop and cooking class, both of which will be offered in the next few months.

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