“In the theatre, there’s a name for people who create together- it’s called an ensemble. Take a look around the circle.
This is your ensemble for the week. And because they’re in your ensemble, it’s your job to take care of them onstage. Each one of your jobs is to raise the rest of your ensemble up, and never to tear them down.”
This was the beginning of Elena Kellis’ week-long youth theatre camp, which ran from the 3rd to the 7th of July. The aims of the camp were simple: to encourage kids to use and trust their imagination, to foster an outlet for creativity and to get them creating with and supporting one another, on and offstage.
Kellis fell in love with acting at a young age. Active as she was in the Jasper-Junior Senior High School’s drama class, she often had a hard time finding the outlet she needed to develop her passion. Now a third-year theatre student at the University of Victoria, she’s out to change that for the next generation of Jasper’s young artists.
Over the five days they spent together in the Habitat for the Arts, the 12 campers aged 7-11 played theatre games, designed their own monsters and, ultimately, produced their own play. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story, the kids created “Alice in Underland”, a tale of two tea parties featuring evil doppelgangers and parallel worlds accessible only through a magic mirror. When they presented the show to their parents at the end of the week, it was clear that Kellis couldn’t be more proud of what they’d achieved.
“The kids have the run of the camp,” said Kellis. “they have me and they have a few helpers, but they are creating everything themselves, from the plot to the set design. It’s been really cool to watch them put all their ideas together to make their own collaborative piece of art.”
For Hana Rode, age 11, creating the play was the highlight of the camp.
“I love that we get to decide who we want to be and what we want to say,” said Rode. “We get to make our own play.”
For some of the other young thespians, though, the camp’s highlight was the opportunity to work as a team and to expand the campers’ artistic horizons.
“My favourite part was getting to meet new people, and being able to express myself and being able to laugh,” said Hildie Olsen, age 11. “And playing games I haven’t played before.”
Kiersten Pollard, a recent graduate from Jasper Junior/Senior High School and a member of the school’s drama class, was one of the camp’s helpers. Like Kellis, she felt that her opportunities were limited as a child, and sees camps like these as essential for young Jasperites.
“There’s every sports camp under the sun here, and we need more arts opportunities for these kids,” said Pollard. “From what I’ve seen this week, the future of the high school’s drama program looks bright.”
Though the camp is over for the summer, it will likely be run again next year. Parents, watch out for this opportunity to see what your child can do given a team, a stage and the uncapped use of their imagination.