Tag Archives: Young Actors Theatre Camp
Participants in the first session of the Young Actors Theatre Camp finished their final performance at the end of that first week with great aplomb. But, instead of continuing on with their summer activities elsewhere, they decided to sign up for another week of Camp Intrepid. And then another.
“The camp surpassed our expectations,” says Sean Yael-Cox, Intrepid’s Co-Founder and Director of Education. “We were all amazed at how much the kids could accomplish in such a short amount of time. We are going to do our best to deliver what they are asking for.”
To that end, the Young Actors Theatre Camp has expanded this summer, with more than twice the number of sessions being offered. Additionally, each of the eight weeklong Young Actors camps will focus on a new play, so that campers can repeat sessions without repeating a production. Sessions will take place at the Encinitas Community Center. Click here for a Young Actors Theatre Camp schedule, beginning June 23.
“Kids can expect a lot of fun but also a great learning experience,” says local theatre talent Abby DeSpain, who recently received the Craig Noel Young Artist Award, and attended three sessions Camp Intrepid last summer. “I especially liked learning stage combat from Lance Arthur Smith,” she says of the local professional actor and fightmaster, who is one of a slew of guest artists invited to teach campers during their sessions.
“It is a fun-packed week,” says Rachel Kanevsky, who has attended five Camp Intrepid sessions over the last year. “Camp Intrepid is a new way for any kid to get involved with theater, gain important skills, and make new friends.”
In addition to the Young Actors Theatre Camp, both the Musical Theatre Camp and the Shakespeare Camp will return – each for two-week sessions held at the Performing Arts Center at San Dieguito Academy. Into the Woods and King Lear are on the docket, with sessions beginning June 30 and July 14, respectively. Registration is now open.
While these particular selections of musical theatre and Shakespeare may seem daunting for two-week camp sessions, Sean is confident that the campers will be up to the challenge, especially those who are returning for their second summer.
“We choose plays that inspire young actors to be creative and use their imaginations,” explains Sean. “Both Into The Woods and King Lear are incredibly complex pieces, and we wanted to challenge the students and raise the bar for those who attended last year.”
Parent Heidi Maretz, whose daughter, Tess, attended the Musical Theatre Camp last year, agrees. “Tess has had lots of performing experience, and Camp Intrepid provided a great experience for both new and more experienced performers.”
While the Young Actors Theatre Camp is geared towards ages 8-14, both the Musical Theatre and Shakespeare camps focus on teenagers 13-18. Sean feels it is important to inspire the campers in both their passion and their commitment to the work, and this summer’s repertory reflects that.
“These are plays that we love and are passionate about,” says Sean. “I think Into The Woods is one of the greatest musicals ever written. King Lear is a fantastic ensemble show filled with amazing characters, greed, revenge, sword fights, honor, madness, insults, a storm, betrayal and, in the end, unconditional love and forgiveness.”
In addition to honing the theatrical talents of the students, parents of previous campers have also reported that the camp sessions have strengthened other skills, including public speaking and academic collaboration. While drama camp is memorable for being fun and entertaining in the moment, its lasting advantages cannot be denied.
“Rachel’s theater classes and camps have made her a very proficient public speaker and let her do things she might be too reserved to try otherwise,” says Inna Kanevsky, Rachel’s mother. “This year, Rachel won a high level award at the County Science Fair, where she made a very good impression on the judges by her presentation skills and confidence. It was pretty much all acting, as Rachel reported being nervous the whole time.”
“The kids learn about everything that goes in to putting on a production, but they also learned about teamwork and being responsible to each other,” agrees Whitney DeSpain, Abby’s mother. “The teachers at Intrepid are fantastic.”
Camp Intrepid is helmed by Sean, as well as by Erin Petersen, an Intrepid Associate Artist and the company’s Internship Program Director. It is no secret that these two are the main reasons why campers are repeatedly returning to this program.
“Erin is a wonderful teacher and encourager, and there is never a dull moment,” says Inna. “Intrepid is one of the very few programs with the focus on acting, as most everywhere else children do musical theater only. Even though most summer ‘shows’ will be musicals, we know that acting skills will be given attention, which is what Rachel and I want.”
Andrew Moore, a student at San Dieguito Academy, participated in the Shakespeare Camp last summer, and continued his exploration with the SDA internship program, playing the title role in the intern production of Macbeth earlier this year. Throughout this process, he was able to work side-by-side with Sean to explore one of Shakespeare’s darkest villains, applying the seeds that were planted during Camp Intrepid.
“I was surprised and amazed at the amount of knowledge I took from the camp,” says Andrew. “I went in expecting a bit of fun, and I came out with a level of self confidence I didn’t think I would ever have.”
Jennifer Moore, Andrew’s mother, appreciates that the Camp Intrepid instructors become mentors to the students they have in repeat sessions. “Andrew liked the way that Sean approached Shakespeare’s writing and seemed to gain a better understanding of the play and the author,” she says. “He also had a good time putting the play together, studying the stage fighting and working with the other teens.”
However, those hoping to take part in Camp Intrepid this summer should hurry. Returning campers are already planning their summers around Intrepid’s camp sessions and spaces are filling up quickly.
“Rachel has signed up for almost every session this summer,” says Inna. “She is super excited to be with the company all day and to be able to have a show at the end of each week.”
For Sean, it is important that the kids not only learn what a theatre experience involves, but also recognize that the skills which go into theatre production are the same skills that will be useful in other aspects of life. For this reason, campers tend to have all levels of experience and a wide variety of future ambitions outside of the world of theatre.
While Rachel confides that she loves the theatre, she is not looking to make it a career. However, she looks forward to experiencing the energy and magic that comes with pulling together a performance.
“I like the final dress rehearsal,” says Rachel, “because everybody is really energetic and excited to perform and we get to be in our makeup and costumes…it’s an unforgettable experience.”
Registration for all sessions of Camp Intrepid are now open, with limited availability. Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
“Break a leg,” she says.
Moments later, she is welcoming the audience to the first ever Camp Intrepid performance, courtesy of the Young Actors Theatre Camp.
Erin, who serves as Intrepid’s internship program director, has been mentoring and teaching a small group of 8-15 year-olds for the past week, along with Artistic Director and Director of Education, Sean Cox. Today marks the campers’ final performance: a costumed, choreographed and thoroughly rehearsed production of a pirate musical for parents and friends.
“I told them if they had a real solid final dress [rehearsal], I’d do the makeup thing,” says Erin, commenting on her penciled-in mustache.
As the audience mills about the theatre finding seats that provide ample room for filming and picture-taking, many are unable to contain their enthusiasm for Camp Intrepid.
“Kenzie loves it, loves it, loves it…triple loves,” says Corrie Anderson, whose eight-year-old daughter is trying theatre camp for the first time, having never participated in drama classes or productions before. “She’s so sad that it’s over. The time flies by.”
Carlsbad resident Whitney DeSpain, whose daughter Abby, 9, plays one of the larger parts in today’s show, agrees.
“Abby adores it,” she says. “She’s having the best time and she loves Erin.” Somewhat of a theatre veteran already, having performed in numerous productions around town, Abby finds the Camp Intrepid experience extremely engaging.
“In fact, she liked it so much, we signed up for the next week of it,” says Whitney.
As the audience settles, Erin takes her seat on the edge of the stage in case she needs to do any last minute prompting during the show. Set against the backdrop of a giant pirate flag, the campers enter the stage and begin a tale of buried treasure, new friendships, and the fun of finding the “pirate” in all of us. Halfway through, the kids burst out in a high seas song and dance number. The audience laughs at pirate puns and tears up when the group of wandering pillagers sings about home.
Two songs, one dance number, and one swordfight later, the cast – beaming with pride – takes their bows to riotous applause.
“They did an amazing job,” gushes Erin post-show. “I couldn’t have had better group of kids. Really, they were fabulous and so willing to do whatever we asked them to do.”
When commenting on the impact of theatre camp on a child’s academic and social life, Erin cannot say enough, although each time she speaks, she is interrupted by one of her young actors tackling her with a bear hug or shouting far-off strains of “Thank you, Miss Erin!”
“It’s just having fun,” Erin begins before the first hug comes in. “But it’s also very validating for the kids. They create a character and work on something together as a team –“ (Bear hug.) “ — and then they have that moment where they show it to people and surprise people with how much they did –“ (Bear hug.) “– in a short amount of time.” (“Thank you, Miss Erin!”)
“They might not think this is a career opportunity,” Erin continues once the hug-waves have subsided, “but the skills they learn in these camps are things they can use in many aspects. We work on tools like voice and movement and articulation, for example. If you are giving a report in front of class, you’d have to use those skills.”
This year, thanks to a community grant from the City of Encinitas and the Mizel Family Foundation, more students than ever will be able to participate in the camp experience and develop these critical skills. Full and partial scholarships are available for potential campers on a first-come, first-serve basis. Intrepid hopes to continue the scholarship program year after year.
Marie-Laure Wagner-Hunsaker, who attended theatre camp when she was young because she was “too shy,” understands the value of this camp experience. “The camp trainers were actors and I remember very clearly the [theatre] exercises we did. I was super excited and super happy when Ari told me about the camp exercises he was doing here. I remember them.” Her son, Ari, 12, brought a little French accent to his part, and proved to be one of the most comedic actors in the bunch.
“Kids recognize the quality of the experience,” Marie-Laure continues. “They work very hard but it’s very fun. Ari says they laugh all day long.”
“This week surpassed my expectations,” says Sean Cox, who couldn’t be happier with the campers’ enthusiasm in this inaugural week of summer camp. “It’s great to discover that we are filling a niche in North County for professional theatre training for kids,” he says.
When cornered by parents about the possibility of offering year-round theatre classes, Sean smiles thoughtfully. “If there’s enough interest, we would be more than happy to continue classes in the winter,” he says. “Right now, we are just thrilled with the response.” — T.T.
Registration for a limited number of spots in upcoming Camp Intrepid sessions is still open, including the two Musical Theatre Camps (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and the Shakespeare Camp. Sessions run through August 16.
Please email ChristyYael@intrepidshakespeare.com for more information about Camp Intrepid scholarship applications.