Greetings, weary reader! You've stumbled upon the Theatre Camp • Camp Guide, an ancient screed written for
- the intrepid educator who wants to bring theatre activities into the classroom (yay!)
- the theatrepreneur (the-AH-tre-pe-neur, if you want to be classy) hoping to start a youth theatre at your small theatre (or your large one, we don't judge!)
- the experienced theatre educator looking for a different approach (or simply a last-minute way to freshen up your lesson plan)
OR, last and most likely,
- the family member or friend looking to support the authors of this guide (hi, mom!)
Really, we don't care who you are -- we're just glad you're here, because we believe that theatre is a great way to use experiential, hands-on learning to teach essential life skills. In this guide, you will find the following:
**Roughly illustrated "how-to" guides for playing our adapted and original theatre games/activities.
**Stories of our experiences developing and play-testing the featured games/activities, meant to encourage you to DYOG (Design Your Own Games) and also remind you that this process is not an exact science (sometimes I Survived...-style EPIC fails are involved).
**Insight and conclusions based on our triumphs, failures, and "mehs," which will hopefully help you and your students benefit from the awesomeness of theatre games, while avoiding some of our more boring fails (Leaving more room for your own, interesting, fails!).
Surprisingly, you may draw your own insights and conclusions based on your experiences with the games/activities in this guide. If that happens (ha!), DON'T PANIC! At any level, theatre (and by extension, theatre games) should be experienced differently by different people. Feel free to share those experiences with us - we'd love to hear them. In the words of Egon Spangler, Peter Venkman, and Ray Stanz (the original Ghostbusters), "We're ready to believe you!"
But who... is..."we?"
We are Andy and Allison, two distinct voices who will guide your Guide experience. Allow us to introduce each other:
Andy: Allison is a theatre/music educator with twelve years of experience and a Master's degree in Vocal Performance. She has a passion for sharing stories and works best when music is her paint brush. As a formally trained opera singer, she is always challenging students to dig into the dramatic tension of their stories. Allison sets a high bar for all performers and always expects the best of what they can give. She is inspired by literature, social justice, and all forms of music. Her deepest passion as an artist is to build a different type of American opera, sweeping stories that are accessible to everyone. The "Great American Opera" will move past the "Grand Old Opera" of tuxedos and fancy dresses to create stories that are just as comfortable in a coffee shop or a street corner as they are on stage.
Allison is responsible for some of our theatre camps' most inventive storylines: she's developed a prequel story to the Hunger Games series, adapted The Three Musketeers to feature lead characters who are women, and written a one-act musical that mashes up Where's Waldo and Amelia Bedelia with time travel.
Allison: Andy has been teaching theatre for about nine years. He's worked as the Education Director at the George Daily Auditorium in Oskaloosa, IA for almost five of them. Though he loves many aspects of his job, I can attest that designing and play-testing new games takes up quite a bit of his personal life, as well as his teaching time. He's spent many a day off/relaxing walk brainstorming how to create a live-action RPG basedon NASMA (the North American School of Magical Arts, based off the magical world of Harry Potter, but with our special sauce), introduce a new perk into a game, or simplify our XP-based disciplinary system. (Once we've written posts about each of these, we'll link to them here. How exciting is this blogging stuff?!)
Andy regards theatre as a tool that teaches intangible life skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, confidence, critical thinking, and citizenship, as well as more measurable outcomes like responsibility, public speaking, and empathy. While this all sounds very noble, I think his unstated life goal is to make every game in our repertoire impossible for students to beat.
Well, now the introductions are almost complete, and we can get down to the delightfully serious, and seriously delightful, business of theatre camp. Our guiding philosophy in theatre camp is that accessibility is king. In the case of this blog, that means that even though some of these games/activities are available from other sources, we want to make them easily accessible and reproducible for the people on the theatre camp frontline. We will credit the source of the original game, when known, but our games have almost always been adapted and reformatted to best fit our theatre. Alongside familiar games, we will present games/activities that are unique to our Youth Theatre, where they were created from scratch.
This applies to you, the reader, as well. We want you to build on the resources here.
Our games have been modified by our campers along the way, and we hope you'll utilize the ingenuity of your students, too. We are always modifying, creating, and adapting to get exactly what we need from a game/activity. We expect you to do the same.
Alright, here we go! As we said before, and as Douglas Adams said before that in A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...