Dec 29 2009, 9:36 AM

Drama Kids International has launched an Eastside franchise, part of the largest, after-school drama program in the world.

Classes are held once a week at rented facilities, including the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center and Einstein Elementary School in Redmond, for students ages 3-18.

The program is designed to allow new enrollment throughout the year, space permitting. Drama Kids also offers day camp programs during the summer and school breaks.

Unlike traditional drama programs, the main focus of Drama Kids is on children’s development, rather than production, according to Lisa Loomis, executive director of Drama Kids of Seattle’s Eastside.

“It’s personal communication skills,” said Loomis. “We do a small production, mostly for parents, but we’re not working on that the entire time. It’s a very interactive, fast-paced program.”

Loomis explained that each class for younger students includes introductory speech activities to spur kids’ imaginations and encourage participation.

She described pre-school classes as “more adventure … with lots of props.”

Drama Kids also offers “acting academy” classes for ages 12 and up.

The advantage of the program, Loomis noted, is that there are no auditions. Drama Kids welcomes everyone and is ideal for kids who may be a little shy or haven’t had a chance to participate in plays.

“The bottom line is that Drama Kids curriculum will enhance a child’s academic experience,” said Loomis.

She said the skills learned here will help children with book reports, oral presentations and group projects.

Also, said Loomis, “Parents need peace of mind that after the school day ends, their children are involved in valuable activities that enrich their learning. … We have an internationally established brand. We use proven, fun drama activities to focus the bold, outspoken child and to draw out the quiet child, helping them reach into themselves and discover their full potential.”