Rahway, NJ- Artists of almost every age and of various talents have a chance to learn and grow at the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Performing Arts Conservatory this spring. There are four distinct classes spanning from May to July, each taught by an experienced and accomplished instructor.

“A Word to the Wise: Art for the Heart” encourages students to combine words of wisdom with visual imagery, letting their imaginations do the work while they create, display, and discuss their own original artwork. Words of wisdom that are heartbeats of world cultures, as well as one’s own sayings and those gathered from parents, grandparents, and esteemed others, inspire one’s creation of visual arts - drawings (pencil, charcoal, pastels, and crayon), quilting, crocheting, knitting, bead work, crafts, poetry, and such.

Students bring words of wisdom and personal sayings to share, along with their own art materials. Then relax, create, and enjoy this heart-healthy artistic experience. This class is for students ages 12+ and meets Saturdays, May 6 to May 20 from 1 PM to 3:30 PM. The cost per student is $160; however, seniors 62 and up pay a special price of $95. This class takes place in the Fazioli Room at the UCPAC’s Hamilton Stage (360 Hamilton Street, Rahway, NJ).

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“Storytelling As Art: The Àse That Energizes Memory, Arts & Artifacts!” is a class in which participants seek new meaning for their lives through active engagement with intuition, imagination, memory, sensory and extrasensory perception, and group discussion on arts and artifacts brought to each session. Clothing, photos, paintings, books, songs, recipes, letters, poems, and other keepsakes preserve àse (soul, life force, divine energy). The art of storytelling is developed from the creative concept of àse that energizes human memory, art and artifacts, and transcends the boundaries of the natural world.

Coming to terms with events, motives, circumstances, and occurrences that have shaped their lives, participants create and tell new stories filled with àse inspired by memory, arts, and artifacts. For ages 16+, this class also meets Saturdays, May 6 to May 20, but from 4 PM to 6:30 PM. As above, the cost per student is $160, with the 62 and up price at $95. This class also takes place in the Fazioli Room.

Moving on to classes specifically meant for the younger audience, the Conservatory is offering “Spring Comedy Improv for Teens and Tweens.” This class is a 6-week comedy improvisation course for kids ages 10-15 that will culminate with at least one live performance for family and friends. Popular games will include Freeze and Party Quirks, and many new ones will be explored. This course will meet Mondays, May 1 to June 12 from 6 PM to 7 PM. The cost per student is $155. This class will take place in the Loft at the UCPAC (1601 Irving Street, Rahway, NJ).

“Kids Cabaret,” an advanced course and performance opportunity for young Musical Theater performers, is being offered to children ages 9-15. Participation in this production will be by audition only. Students will learn various songs and choreography about growing up and engage in a fast-paced rehearsal process geared towards approximately five cabaret performances in local venues in Union County. Participants must be available for all rehearsals and performance dates. Scheduled performances include: June 16, Union, NJ, Movies under the Stars at Rabkin Park; June 21, the Café at Union County Performing Arts Center; June 29, Crossroads in Garwood; and more to be added. Rehearsal dates are Monday evenings from May 22 to July 1 in the Loft at the UCPAC. Auditions are May 19 at the Loft with slots from 5:30 PM to 9 PM. Students are asked to prepare a verse and chorus of a musical theater song, preferably with accompaniment. A speaker will be available. Payment for the class in the amount of $225 per student is only made if the student is cast after his/her audition.

One may enroll in any one of these classes and make payment online at http://www.ucpac.org/performing-arts-conservatory, over the phone by calling the box office at (732) 499-8226, or by visiting the box office in person at 1601 Irving Street, Rahway, NJ. The only exception is “Kids Cabaret,” due to the audition process determining enrollment. Parents looking to sign their children up for an audition slot are asked to visit http://www.playtheaternj.com/shows and fill out an online form. A package deal for registering for two or more classes is available here, and offers 10% off each class selected: http://bit.ly/2pfTA4l

“A Word to the Wise: Art for the Heart” and “Storytelling As Art: The Àse That Energizes Memory, Arts & Artifacts!” are both taught by Marjorie Williams. Marjorie writes of her arts experience: “I have lived a fascinating life as a singer, visual artist, writer, storyteller and educator of college-level adults. And I am an intuitive and spiritual advisor with more than 35 years experience in these areas. I use innate spiritual gifting to enter into sacred spaces of the imagination and natural world where we conduct our daily lives, as well as the power of creativity to unveil the asé in arts and artifacts.”

“Spring Comedy Improv for Teens and Tweens” and “Kids Cabaret” are taught by Amy Fiore, who founded Play Theater in 2013. Amy holds a BFA from Syracuse University in Musical Theater Performance with a minor in Education and has taught theater, acting, and arts administration to children and adults for 15 years. In its short existence, Play Theater has mounted 2 productions and 5 semesters of classes. www.playtheaternj.com