Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Theatre Camps in Italy
In the private gardens of the Palazzo Corsini, FESTA offered two weeks of "Camp Shakespeare" for kids. They could join us for one or both weeks. About 17 joined for both weeks. During the first week, we had about 35; the number dwindled to 21 for the second week.
Even for a Florentine summer, it was unseasonably hot and humid. The sumptuous gardens offered few shady places to work, and the limonaia (the lemon house pictured above) was not a space where multiple groups could work separately. We had dance and stage combat workshops as well as rehearsals for a small theatrical production which the kids performed on each Friday (incredibly, a different script each week as well, tailored for our kids, incorporating as much Shakespeare as it was felt they could handle).
Some of the kids were Italian, learning English at various levels. Some of them were English-speaking kids living here. As young as six, as old as seventeen.
On the second week, we realized we were very overstaffed: 7 teachers for 21 kids. We would be on top of each other, and the company could scarcely afford to pay for it. Since I had a means of earning some money outside the camp, I stepped away from the camp after the second Monday. (Hoping I get paid for Monday anyway.)
Kids are kids, and while many probably stayed away because of the weather, those who came had a wonderful time and I think in particular it was an achievement for kids learning English to use this language dramatically. Certainly, for their parents it was a benchmark.
The camps in Florence completed, we are now in tech week for Romeo and Juliet (also taking place in the garden), and after the show closes later in July, most of us move up to the mountains for Dynamo Camp. This is a camp for children with serious or chronic illnesses, and we will be bringing theatre enrichment into their days here.
Related to all of this, yesterday I accepted a year-long position as a visiting professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. As part of my course load, I'll be working with education majors in the use of theatre as a teaching methodology, and as part of that course my student teachers and I will be teaching afterschool theatre programs for kids.
And so the work continues.
This image, by the way, is my favorite of all the photos I took at the camp. It shows one of our Italian teenagers, going over her lines in solitude in preparation for their big show.