Summer Theater Day Camp offers young actors a chance to be in the spotlight – Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – For the past two weeks, young actors from across the community have taken the stage at Bemidji State’s Bangsberg Hall for a summer theater day camp.

Hosted by the city of Bemidji Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with the Bemidji Community Theater, campers learned about the ins and outs of the theater during the two-week program, which ran June 6-17.

During the camp, participants were divided into colour-coordinated groups based on their skills, experience and interests – blue, green, orange, purple and red.

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The Red Group rehearse “The Reaper Calls at Midnight” during a Summer Theater Day Camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

During a Thursday dress rehearsal, each group took turns practicing their performances in preparation for a final show on the last day of camp.

In one play, hungry monkeys clashed with cockatoos at a zoo. In another, Dracula was depressed on Halloween night because he believed people were no longer afraid of vampires. In a play about a brick factory, a magical brick is found that has the power of time travel.

Another group of campers rehearsed stage fighting scenes, and some groups got together to sing “Troika,” a Russian folk song. The show’s grand finale brought dozens of campers onto the stage for a merry dance number.

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Campers practice a stage fight scene during a summer theater day camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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Members of the Orange Group rehearse a play about a magic brick during a summer theater day camp at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall on Thursday 16 June 2022.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Behind the dancing, singing and acting is almost two weeks of hard work for the campers.

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BCT’s Mary Knox-Johnson, who ran the camp, said each color group was introduced to different aspects of theater tailored to their level of experience. Each day of the camp, participants learned different acting skills and worked diligently to perfect their performances for the final show.

Beginners, she explained, spent their time at camp learning introductory-level dance, music, and acting.

“You learn very basic skills. Acting teaches them stage positioning, stage concepts and stage terminology,” said Knox-Johnson. “In the end, these beginners are all involved in a piece, they’re all involved in a choral arrangement, and they’re all involved in a dance.”

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Campers sing ‘Troika’, a Russian folk song, during a summer theater day camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Another group of campers got to know the more technical side of theatre. They tried out choreographed stage fights and also designed the sets for the plays, which involved painting backdrops and making props.

The more experienced campers took part in either an advanced group or an “out of the box” group, which gave campers the opportunity to create their own piece from scratch.

“They’re actually writing a script when they get here,” Knox-Johnson said. “They pick different things out of a box, like the location, the first line and the prop, and in their first week they actually write the show.”

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Members of the blue group rehearse “Starving Monkeys” during a summer theater day camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

BCT Vice President Ernie Rall said the two-week program has attracted 77 campers, up from 65 last year. The camp is in its eighth year, with the only break in 2020.

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While masked and socially distancing at camp 2021, this year’s participants were free to dance, sing and play to their hearts’ content without restrictions.

For more information on Bemidji Community Theater’s upcoming shows and events, visit bemidjicommunitytheater.org.

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The purple group take a bow after rehearsing their play during a summer theater day camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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Members of the green group rehearse “Superhero Auditions” during a summer theater day camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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Members of the Red Group rehearse a scene from ‘The Reaper Calls at Midnight’ during a Summer Theater Day Camp on Thursday 16 June 2022 at BSU’s Bangsberg Hall.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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