Every year, the Alliance Theatre casts several local actors, including children, to fill the many roles in A Christmas Carol. Encore Atlanta spoke with some of the youngest cast members about acting, the show and what makes being onstage so much fun.
What do you like most about acting?
James Edward Washburn III (Wyatt/Ensemble), age 11: I get to play different characters that are totally not like my personality.
Jamiah Cummings (Belinda/Ensemble), age 13 : I think it’s kind of like a treatment — it soothes me. If I have a bad day, everything just goes away and I feel safe and happy onstage. It boosts my confidence, too, and makes me feel that I can do anything.
Royce Mann (Tiny Tim), age 8: It’s fun, and good discipline — you just learn a lot about different things. It’s really fun getting to learn the lines and [hanging out] backstage is really cool.
Jordan Shoulberg (Want/Matchgirl/Ensemble), age 9: The feeling of being onstage with a spotlight on you touches your heart. I loooooove doing it. It’s so much fun for me!
Tessa Palisoc (Melinda/Ensemble), age 12: The actors in the play are always kind and treat me like a fellow actor and not just a child. [Acting] teaches different lessons … like how to speak in front of people, public speaking, and being comfortable around other people.
What’s the most difficult thing about acting?
Tendal Mann (Daniel/Ignorance/Turkey Boy/Ensemble), age 11: Memorizing the lines and … having shows on weekends and weekdays, [because] my friends have parties on weekends and I have to miss them.
Jamiah: You need to practice, which I need to work on, so you can get better.
Tessa: Working it into the schedule is very difficult because I have other extracurricular activities, but once you have it, it’s fun.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened backstage?
Tessa: Last year an actress, Bernadine Mitchell, would come backstage before the show and say “good show.” So we would always try to sneak up on her and say “good show” to her before she could say it to us.
Tendal: One day, we brought in walkie-talkies and put our shoes under the break table, so it looked like we were under there, but the kids were hiding in a box and I had a walkie-talkie and jumped out at [Bernadine] and said “good show!”
Jamiah: Daniel May, who plays Marley, would hang out with us backstage and tell us stories. One day, his pants ripped and everyone was like, “Oh my goodness!” Fortunately he had a cape.
What’s your favorite part of the show?
James: I love playing the schoolboy because I get to yell and have fun.
Jamiah: I like the Marley scene … because you see him fly, and I like the Fezziwig scene because [there’s] lots of dancing and singing.
Royce: When Marley visits, it’s really cool and scary.
What advice do you have for other child actors?
Jordan: I think it helps knowing that even if you have a really small part [in the play], that doesn’t mean anything [bad]. You’re [still] in it, meeting people. And you can be scared, just don’t overreact from it.
Royce: If you mess up in a line, you just need to ad lib and know that the other characters are there to help you, so just go with whatever’s happening.
Tendal: Everyone has the gift of acting, it’s just whether you know how to use it or not.
Jamiah: Don’t give up on your dream.
James: Always keep trying and never give up.