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Two Valley Crossing students act at SteppingStone Theatre

For some, acting is about entertaining audiences. For others, it’s about expressing themselves. 

For Valley Crossing Community School students Neha Karthikeyan and Sophie Prock it’s about the characters. 

“Expressing different characters is really neat for me,” Karthikeyan, a fifth grader, said. “It’s fun to come up with your character and be your character.” 

“It’s fun to be a person that’s not you,” Prock, a sixth grader, said, “and really just be a character.” 

Karthikeyan and Prock, both of Woodbury, are appearing in SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development's production of “Shooting Kabul” in St. Paul. 

The show opened last weekend and will run through March 29. 

Both Prock and Karthikeyan are no strangers to SteppingStone Theatre having participated in various shows with the educational theater company in the past. Karthikeyan began acting when she was 6 years old, and Prock started at the age of 8. 

SteppingStone Theatre, which was founded in 1987, focuses on developing children actors through educational theater programs and full-stage productions.

“All of the shows are interesting and nice,” Karthikeyan said. 

According to its website, SteppingStone Theatre, located in a refurbished 100-year old church in St. Paul, aims to: foster creativity, self-expression and self-confidence; teach children and youth about history, diverse cultures, literature and the arts; and help to create in youth a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

Prock and Karthikeyan both agree that the best thing about being involved with SteppingStone Theatre is the people. 

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of cool people,” Prock said. “I like performing and meeting new people in the audience – I just like people.” 

Plus, the fact that the theater is student-driven is a plus. 

“It’s more kid-based so there’s a lot more people my age that I can get in touch with,” Prock said. “It’s a great way to make friends.” 

Prock and Karthikeyan said they both intend to stay involved in acting in some form. 

“I’m never letting go of acting,” Karthikeyan said. “To be creating something is great, and it’s just something that I’m passionate about.” 

“Shooting Kabul,” which is based on the book of the same name written by Nasheed Hasnat, tells the story of tells of Fadi, a young Afghan refugee whose family was torn apart while trying to flee the Taliban, and his struggles to make a new home in America.

When a photography competition is announced with a prize of international travel, the boy sees a chance to return to Afghanistan and search for his sister.

“It’s more dramatic and emotional,” Karthikeyan said. “When I read I’m drawn to emotional books and this is an emotional story.” 

SteppingStone’s version of “Shooting Kabul” is told through a flashback when a group of students interview Fadi about his life. 

Karthikeyan and Prock portray two of the students, Mika and Carly, interviewing Fadi. 

“He tells us his story about how all this happened,” Prock said, “so we’re always on stage.” 

Prock said “Shooting Kabul” has been a somewhat challenging show for her since she is typically used to appearing in musicals and more light-hearted shows. 

“This is different than any other show I’ve done because it’s a very dense show,” she said. “It’s very different for me to step on stage and be more dramatic and just get lost in the story.” 

For Karthikeyan, the blocking has been a challenge since the present day and flashback are often on stage together. 

Both Prock and Karthikeyan said they are excited about the show. 

“I’m excited because I’m really confident about everything,” Karthikeyan said. 

“It’s going to be fantabulistic,” Prock said. 

SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development's production of “Shooting Kabul” will run March 18-20 and March 25-26 at 10 a.m., March 19 and 26 at noon, March 20 and 27 at 7 p.m. and March 21-22 and March 28-29 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are $9 for members of SteppingStone Theatre. Group rates are available. The theater is located at 55 Victoria St. in North in St. Paul. Visit to purchase tickets or for more information.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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