Camps and Creativity at Olympia Family Theater

by Kelli Samson for OLY ARTS

At the start of every summer, Olympia Family Theater’s production season ends, making way for the training of future thespians. The audiences and rhythms of the past nine months change. Rehearsal schedules give way for day camps, and guests switch from theater patrons to children aged 5 to 12.

OFT’s expanded its offerings and truly has something for every camper. Each session culminates in some type of performance. For the youngest children, there are camps available for just half the day. For kids a little older, the camps run for six hours. This year, things go even later for teenagers interested in improvisation, as those sessions are offered in the evenings. “Teens who participate in improv this summer will have the opportunity to be part of a teen troupe next school year,” explains artistic director Jen Ryle. “They will meet once a week, culminating in a public performance here.”

New to the lineup this year is technical theater. Campers get to focus on things like costuming and set design instead of acting. Stagecraft campers will be the crew for the tandem sessions’ performances. “With these workshops and camps, it’s less about the performance at the end and more about the process,” says Ryle. There will be two daytime productions offered over the summer season, Chicken Little and Mother Goose, but they’ll be weekend performances instead of the usual weekday shows.

Ryle has nothing but praise for her teaching staff. Additions this summer are Ryan Campeau and Claribel Gross. Campeau is a student in Evergreen’s master’s-in-teaching program. Gross recently earned her master’s degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence. She and Amy Shephard lead the Cat in the Hat camp in August, in both English and Spanish. Campeau and Gross have experience working in other countries, in theater and with kids.

For future reference, OFT offers an early-bird discount for campers. There’s also a discount for families registering more than one child, and scholarships are available. The cutoff dates for these have, however, passed for this camp season. Many camps are already full, but some have space available.

What: Chicken Little

Where: Olympia Family Theater,
612 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9

How much: $5

Learn more: 360-570-1638 | OFT

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