Will Power

The kids had a great time at Pigeon Creek’s “Will Power” day camp. Francis and Angie Boyle, who were my colleagues from grad school, were their teachers. They studied King Lear and As You Like It, as well as trying out stage combat, costume design, and other skills. I got a very little bit of information from them about what, exactly, they were doing, but they seemed happy.

One of their favorite things was pool noodle duels, where they would fight with half-length pool noodles. If they got tapped on an appendage, they weren’t allowed to use that limb any more. Eventually one of them would run out of body and have to “die,” dramatically and while shouting one of the characters from Lear’s last lines (“Look there! Look there!” “O! Untimely death!” etc).

Silas came home one day talking about how “we had to learn some long speech today.” What was it about? “I don’t know, the seven stages of life or something.” He acted pretty uninterested in that, but he kept referring to it afterward. Eventually, he even created the following pictorial annotation:

So I guess he found it thought-provoking after all.

One exercise they did was to randomly assign characters from AYLI to the children, who then had to improvise around the various plot points in the show while one of their teachers read them out. On the day of their performance, Petra ended up with Rosalind/Ganymede and Audrey. Silas had Silvius and Duke Senior. Petra was obviously both embarrassed and pleased to be playing Rosalind. She kept getting shy and distracted–the whole thing was kind of hilarious.

Even funnier was on Sunday, at church, she told every person she talked to that she had played Rosalind in a production of AYLI. Silas was terrifically embarrassed. The adults involved, none of whom knew her at all, were mildly confused. As was I. Hilarious.

I was so happy that my kids were able to do this camp. Even if they don’t become theater artists as adults, I want them to value the art. It’s important to me that they learn to be generous collaborators, to take risks, to stretch themselves physically, emotionally, and intellectually–all of which are benefits of theater education. I want them to feel the power of these timeless words to express the impossible depths of the lived experience. I was happy they had some time with other kids each day–that’s always a challenge when we’re here, because we’re far from all of their friends. And it’s exciting that they got to work with Francis and Angie. I love that my kids get to see working artists in their lives–that arting around is a job that real adults have, something that feels possible to them.

It was a little surreal being on the “parent” side of camp, after having worked at theater camps off and on over the past 20 years. Hard to believe my kids are big enough to be on that side of it, and we’re watching their work.

Awfully sweet, though.

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