Every summer camp tries to present its own special activities that make it unique, different from the competitors, in order to attract children and certainly their parents. The choice seems to be extremely wide, but if we omit sports, the camps can be divided mostly into two categories: education and entertainment. As for us, we decided to follow the third path and to combine education and entertainment. We think that the most adequate form for that kind of activity is a theater or drama camp (“drama” is used here in its broadest meaning).
Theater is the most synthetic artistic genre that unites an entire gamut of arts: painting (scenery, props), music, dance and of course acting. For a live stage performance we need one more special component: a little bit of imagination. In our theater summer camp we teach children that the theater begins not with actors or directors, and even not with a cloakroom, but with the clean sheet of paper. There we will write Cinderella (stage play in three acts) or Little Prince (based on the book by Antoine de Saint Exupery). Then we’ll have to make a list of all the characters and decide, which of them we can remove and which of them are indispensable for our play. And sometimes we’ll have to add some new characters that are missing in traditional story.
What We Do
Of course, we first need to reread and revisit the play we are going to put on the stage (perhaps for some children it will be the first acquaintance with Kipling, Milne, Andersen, Schwartz…). And then we enter upon the most difficult but also the most interesting part of the work: we figure out the characters of the roles that we are going to play. Why the characters behave the way they do and how they relate to each other? And so we step on stage, try on somebody else’s clothes (or hide, or fur) and somebody else’s fate, and eventually the show begins to take shape.
Sometimes people ask us whether it’s possible to create a show during two weeks. It is true that in our studio we usually work on a show during several months. But you shouldn’t forget that children in the studio rehearse only once a week while in the camp we can have a totally different rhythm of rehearsals.
I already said that we deal with drama in the widest meaning of this word. In my next blog I’ll try to explain what I mean.