Q&A: CATCO acting apprentice Joanna Van Sickle

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the November 1, 2012 edition

Joanna Van Sickle is one of four CATCO acting apprentices, a first-time program that gives young thespians an opportunity to explore all aspects of the theater. Van Sickle loves performing, but has found her true passion is education. Over the next year, she’ll focus on bringing acting and theater to children and schools, which is perfect because as she puts it, “I just like to hang out with kids.”

Something that I really like about being here is I do more than one thing. I’m not just an actor. I really love education. So, I’m doing that, acting, stage managing and I’m going to assistant direct later in the year.

I was an understudy for the two female roles on “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” I learned Arabic for that. It was great to just be in on the process for a professional company; just seeing how the director works and all the professional actors.

I’m working with West Broad Elementary and Highland Elementary right now. It’s an at-risk program where we go in to the schools and do a creative drama lesson plan with the third graders. Over the 20 weeks, we discuss with the teachers a topic the kids are struggling with and they write a play about it. They’ll perform it at the Columbus Performing Arts Center.

For the CATCO is Kids productions, we’re doing the “Tales of Beatrix Potter.” We actually take that into the schools and perform it there. Then we go into the classrooms and teach them what it’s like to be an actor — how to use their bodies and voices, imagination, cooperation, coordination, all those things. Later in the year we do the same kind of thing except it’s Shakespeare 4.0. We’re going to do Shakespeare for them and Shakespeare-based workshops.

I play guitar and practice sometimes with Cody [Michael Shope], one of the other apprentices. He plays piano and sings. We’ve been practicing some music from “Once,” and we may perform at a gala they have here.

I watch lots of TV for downtime, more than I should. I really like “Revolution.” My all-time favorite show is “Lost” so I’m a big fan of anything from J.J. Abrams.

This summer I was able to bring magic alive with “Labyrinth” at one of the summer camps I did. You have to write, direct and teach a short musical, so I adapted “Labyrinth” into a 15 minute children’s musical. It was amazing. Kids were going around, “You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power?” It was so weird hearing my favorite movie’s lines coming out of their mouths.