By Sue Moore
Melissa Sparks has started her own theater company, Prism. She’s organizing an inaugural year of camps and classes in August at the Vicksburg Community Center. “It’s about growing, not just creatively, but also growing the students’ minds and hearts to develop into their multifaceted selves. Like a prism that reflects the many colors within light, they will discover the many colors of their character,” she said.
Sparks has taught, choreographed and directed theater and music throughout Kalamazoo County. During the school year, she is the director/choreographer for Vicksburg Community Schools’ International Thespian Society and theater program; an educator for Education for the Arts Advanced Musical Theatre course; and the co-director/co-instructor for the Direct Encounter with the Arts program at Western Michigan University.
Each class runs for one week, and classes run between July 29 and August 16. Classes for students age 7-14 include: Hip Hop Shakespeare, Stage Combat, Playwriting, Directing, Improvisation, Directing, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Tap Dance.
In addition to classes for 7-14-year-old students, Prism also offers extra classes in early evenings for 4-6-year-old participants, involving fairy tales, dinosaurs, and creative writing as well as classes for ages 15-Adult in improvisation, stage makeup and tap dance.
“I’m trying to offer something different from anything else I’ve seen. I believe the arts are such an incredible teaching tool that help us grow as human beings. All of my summer classes and camps are tied into academics, but also to character qualities that we want our youth to learn to become the best versions of themselves,” Sparks said. “Hopefully they leave as a better human being so they can shine a light in this world. At least, that’s the goal.”
Sparks freelances as a director, music director and choreographer for theaters such as the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Portage Central High School, Center Stage Theatre, and more. She brings her theater degrees, extensive career in the arts, and education experience to this exciting new theater company. “Through Prism Performing Arts, I hope we both inspire people’s passion for the performing arts, but more importantly, we inspire them to become better versions of themselves so they can go out and be a light in the world,” she said.
Prism is offering a discount for students who participate in all three weeks of classes and camps. For further information go to