— By BRIAN SMITH
Theatre Off the Square is in the midst of its first-ever theatre camp this week.
Coordinator Laurie Jones said about 25 kids ages 8-14 are taking part in learning many aspects of the theatre. Jones said she had wanted to have a camp for years. She and her daughter, a Weatherford High English teacher who assists in the drama department there, wrote the curriculum for the camp in about a week, getting a number of ideas from other online curriculums.
The two-week camp is divided into two phases with mornings focused on learning theatre vocabulary as well as going on stage and practicing different emotions, a must for any young thespian.
“We work in the mornings on putting everything, such as using mind, body and voice, together,” Jones said. “It’s really been successful and the kids are having a blast.”
Jones said the activities are meant to reinforce the words and concepts. One of the activities involved the children walking around the theatre showing the teachers different emotions or how they would react in certain situations.
Everything is then put together in the afternoon with rehearsals for a TOTS production of the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web” that the general public will be able to see.
The young actors are getting plenty of help, as WHS Theatre Department Director Angela Arthurs and Assistant Director Christy Collard are directing the production. The instructors are receiving assistance from about a dozen high school and drama students and some TOTS board members and thespians.
While many of the students had little or no acting chops coming into the camp, they have been fast learners, Jones said.
“The students have been just great with memorizing their lines,” Jones said. “In many cases, they have been better than the adults.”
The camp has also allowed some students to develop self-confidence and improve their English skills, Jones said.
“Participation has been key in this camp,” Jones said. “We’ve had some kids that were shy to begin with simply blossom. Camps like this teach communication skills which are so important today. The students learn things they can take with them their entire lives.”
“Charlotte’s Web” will be performed the next two weekends. Friday and Saturday evening shows. The shows are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The theatre is located at 114 N. Denton St. For information, visit www.weatherfordtots.org.