Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Theatre Camp

So this year I'm am teaching a summer theatre camp for a nearby city. I am the teacher, the director, the temporary parent, the judge, the... well, you name it, it's my job.

It has been one heck of a roller coaster.

I LOVE theatre, any aspect of it is exciting to me. Acting, working tech, stage manager, directing. Or even just an audience member.

I also love teaching, and I've worked with elementary aged kids on multiple occasions. I really enjoy it, they're great to work with. I try very hard to be a nice teacher, I'm strict when I need to be, but I'd much rather get the kids to recognize mistakes in positive ways, I tease (very light teasing). I never call a student out in front of the other kids, the only time I have EVER been extremely stern is when two of them paired up and started mocking the other students. All I said was "Hey. None of that. We are here to have fun, and we WILL have fun. So stay focused and show me that awesome positive attitude I saw at auditions. And it WORKED! They were great after that.

Not everything is all bright and shiny however. My students are aged 6-12. I have a few that are already in that annoying, stereotypical teenage stage. Before we begin rehearsal every day we do warm ups. Warm ups are designed to get performers up on their feet, using their voices, get them moving, energize and focus them so they are ready for rehearsal. I've been doing warm ups like these for half my life.

Last week my most difficult student simply folded his arms and stood there, refusing to participate and, even worse, making fun of the other kids. My other problem child took a que from him and stopped. She raised her hand (no idea why, she just talked anyway) and said "Hey you (she was referring to me. Never mind calling me Kimberly, or Miss Kimberly as they have been instructed to do) what does this whole... thing have to do with like, the whole, like theatre thing?" In other words, she things I'm stupid and don't know anything. She was eager to call me out. (Most likely due to her mother, but that's a whole different story. Ugh!)

Now. You'll all be proud of me. I did NOT say what I wanted to say, which was "Listen. I have been doing theatre longer than you've been ALIVE. I also spent lots of money and time and got a DEGREE in theatre. So shut up and participate because I know what I'm doing."

Instead I managed something teacherly and explained the same thing I said above, preparing them for rehearsal.

It's not all bad though. Except for sassy students, parents who like sending angry emails, kids/parents skipping rehearsals, and lack of focus from the other kids, it's been great.

I cast a six year old girl in the lead role. SIX. She was far above the other students, she talented, focused and has an irresistibly bright personality. Her older brother also has a significant role.  Their mom has been awesome, she so so incredibly supportive of her kids and work with them constantly. The little girl in the lead has about 70% of her extensive lines memorized. There are several students who have maybe 8 lines that can read, have a script, but still haven't even attempted to memorize. My younger students are really the ones who impress me.

They are dedicated, kind to each other, respectful and sweet towards me, and a delight to work with. They are so creative! So much of how they say their lines, or react to each other, is stuff they come up with.

It warms my heart every time we sit down, and half of them race to get the spot next to me. Or they come over just talk to me. They don't have anything to really say, they just want to talk to me. Or they'll thank me at the end of rehearsal.

This is why I enjoy teaching so much.

A couple more weeks to go! I'll keep you all updated with the crazy stories. I'll probably do an entire post dedicated to "Things Overheard At Theatre Camp". Trust me, it's hilarious.