The Commercial Appeal
Young actors sharpen skills at theater camp
The young actors took the stage on the first day of theater camp at Bartlett’s Performing Arts Center to rehearse lines from “The Emperor’s New Clothes” that they’ll have to memorize by the week’s end.
Some were nervous, smiling as they fumbled over words Monday, while others delivered their lines like stage veterans. The center’s Kids Drama Camp draws youngsters with varying levels of acting skills, but they all seemed to be having fun, laughing and skipping around the theater.
On Monday and Tuesday, the students, ages 7-13, auditioned for parts, and will spend the rest of the week preparing for a free show at 11:45 a.m. Friday. The groups, from five separate weeklong camps, will perform shows, including Charlie Brown, Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland.
“Very good, girls. Excellent,” the theater camp’s director Debbie Vaughn told one group after its auditions. Later, she told the 20 young thespians, “If your grandma’s sitting all the way in the back, I want you to speak nice and clearly so she can hear you.”
Vaughn’s daughter, Abbie, 7, was a little nervous taking the
stage, but only “this much,” she said, barely touching her thumb and index finger together. After her group auditioned, she announced from the stage, “We did it and we practiced a lot!”
Vaughn, in her third year with the camp, said she hopes the youngsters will get a taste of theater life and learn to try something new.
“It’s a good introduction to life on the stage,” she said.
“My overall goal is that they get a sense of self confidence.”
This year, the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center is also offering a drama camp for teenagers.
They will perform a Charlie Brown show on Friday.
For more information about the drama camps and performances, visit bpacc.org.
In addition to preparing for the shows, the students participate in various drama activities, including adlib performances.
“I always find it fun,” 12-year-old Walt Price said of the camp.
Added 11-year-old Chloe Biggs, who loves the spotlight, “I like everyone looking at me and being in the middle. I want to be an actress when I grow up.”