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Summer Stages

nexStage Theatre

“Summer Stages” is a three-week summer day camp that reaches approximately 40-50 children ages 4-18. Our goal is to provide top-quality, accessible, affordable and memorable experiences in the performing arts for young people in Blaine County and visiting families from around the country. This project provides the students with experience in all aspects of the performing arts: music, dance, visual art, improvisation, acting and playwrighting. We want the students to understand that there is a place for everyone in the performing art, whether it be in-front-of or behind the scenes. Additionally, approximately 160 students and adults attend the free final performance at the nexStage. The funds we received were used for full or partial scholarships for financially-challenged families to be able to attend.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How is theater an effective form to communicate thoughts and feelings?

Our goal was for students enrolled in “Summer Stages” to demonstrate acquired knowledge in the following three Anchor Standards:

Anchor Standard #4. Analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for presentation.

Anchor Standard #5. Develop and refine artistic work for presentation.

Anchor Standard #6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

“It was fun reading and acting out lots of stories before we decided what to do for the show.” Georgia Hemmings, age 7

“The teachers let us make suggestions and then we worked to put some of those into the show. They always listened to our ideas.” — Madelyn Fairfield, age 9

” I couldn’t believe how much fun I had at camp! I bonded with so many new people or should I say new friends! It’s structured so I felt constantly happy and excited for the next class. Don’t even get me started on the teachers…AMAZING they’re so good at what they do and they teach kids so well. Overall my experience at nexStage camps has been wonderful, fun and a true place of joy.”
— Wyatt Root, age 13

Impact

We had a very full camp this year. Because of this we added a new position: Intern! These teenagers (16-18) worked with our professional director (MFA Carnegie-Mellon, based in Portland, OR) in the mornings and prepared both Shakespeare and modern scenes. In the afternoons, these students worked with a teacher in one of the other disciplines: art, music, dance or acting. The younger kids loved this age group addition and lots of bonding was done between the very young and the “young.” Lots of the younger students had never acted, danced or sung before. There were lots of pleasant surprises as they discovered their voices. Our camp does not stress the talent in each child, but rather embraces the whole process. We work through nerves and shyness by teaming those who are with a more outgoing partner. We coax the talent out of them as the discover the wonderful world of the arts. Some like to spend more time in the art room and less on the stage. That works just fine for us and we put them to work making props, costumes and scenery. I think it says a lot that not one child left the 3-week camp early and EVERY child told us they wanted to come back next year!

Reflection

This was an exciting year for our summer camp. Adding the interns (there were 8) worked out extremely well for everyone. Because we devise and create our shows for the two younger age-groups, I think sometimes we can let ourselves get behind by taking so long to create/write it and running out of time to rehearse it. The kids have so many ideas! However, next year I think we should set a deadline with the kids for a date on which the “script” is more-or-less finished. I also think that the younger kids watching the older students’ work enhanced their appreciation for what they themselves were learning. The mixing of the ages (4-18) is a highlight of this program. With the caring support that the older kids give to the younger (and vice-versa) I believe all the kids came out with a stronger imagination, better concentration, more empathy for others and more confident in themselves… and they had fun!!

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