CYT is excited to be offering summer camps again this year, with a twist: We’re going online! Stage Right, our weeklong course for middle-schoolers, will be offered this month through Zoom. Even though it will be a “virtual” experience, it will still be packed with creativity and fun.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down many areas of public life, including theater. But theater is nothing if not an arena for adaptability, experimentation and improvisation, so this is a perfect chance to take advantage of technology to bring young people together, even if only on computer screens. Just think: You can take the summer camp from your living room, or even your bedroom! We ventured online in April with our Audition Prep Workshop, led by Chasta Hamilton, so we know it can be done well.
Jordan Biggers, a CYT alumna and instructor, will be leading Stage Right. She has experience on both sides of theater-by-Zoom. She recently taught online through Seed Art Share in Garner, and performed with the Raleigh-based Women’s Theatre Festival as a human salamander — from her bathtub.
Even though Stage Right students won’t be able to share the same physical space, the online format will give participants a chance to see each other, and themselves, in new ways. The computer can actually foster a sense of intimacy that a large space or stage can’t do well, Jordan said. She plans to guide students through writing exercises leading to pieces that will be performed and recorded so their families can watch them.
Fittingly, the theme of this year’s camp is “togetherness.” In this time of protracted social and physical distancing, Jordan said, Stage Right will give students opportunities to make connections and form bonds that they would under normal circumstances, just in different ways. “They’re wanting social interaction as much as anyone,” she said.
Because of the shift to online platforms, theater teachers and students (and many other folks) are learning new skills, some of which are time-consuming and require new depths of concentration. The willingness to be flexible and learn new things can serve anyone, but these traits are especially helpful in theater, which is “always an amazing outlet for expression and personal connection,” Jordan said. Theater is a great training ground in empathy and learning how to put yourself “in other people’s shoes."
In this camp, students will be given space in which to express their feelings, through airing their voices, listening to each other and transforming stories into scenes. Even though they won’t be literally with their scene partners, Jordan said, Zoom has features that live theater does not that can enhance communication and collaboration, such as a chat window and breakout rooms. Students will completely have “the reins” for the week, she said, as they stretch themselves in new ways.
And even though Stage Right is different this year, it’s still a summer camp, which means it’s really about one thing: HAVING FUN!
Stage Right, for rising 7th-9th graders, will be held June 22-26, 9:30-11 a.m. via Zoom.
Carolina Youth Theatre (CYT)
Carolina Youth Theatre is a community theater focused on providing theater arts education and performance opportunities to students across the Triangle.