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UNT Summer Theater Camp gives Denton children a glimpse into the performing arts

UNT Summer Theater Camp gives Denton children a glimpse into the performing arts

Denton, TexasThe UNT Theater summer camps run from July 10-14 and July 17-21 and are open to current 6th to 12th-grade students. It will be held in the RTFP Building on the UNT campus. Photo Credit: David Urbanik

UNT Summer Theater Camp gives Denton children a glimpse into the performing arts
June 26
20:11 2017

From the light-hearted act of clowning to the intricate designs of costumes and makeup, children in Denton can now learn and experience the art of theater firsthand from one student to another.

The UNT Summer Theatre Camp is a two week-long workshop designed young artists to learn all the facets of the art of theater as taught by UNT theater students.

The camp is open to Denton students currently enrolled between sixth and 12th grade and will be held from July 10-14 and July 17-21 at the Radio, TV, Film, and Performing Arts building on campus.

The last UNT theater camp was held 15 years ago, but this year a group of theater majors were moved by the desire to reach out to the children of Denton and to give back the lessons in theater that UNT gave to them. This desire to help students learn more about theater was realized with the help of Department Chair Dr. Lorenzo Garcia.

“I know there are other camps happening, but I just thought that maybe it would be time for our UNT students to have that experience in our space,” Garcia said. “We thought we wanted to bring some life into the emptiness [on campus during the summer] and what better way to do that than with children and UNT students.”

Camp is held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday each week.

A typical day will begin bright and early when students will be divided into two groups, each going with an instructor for a class on a specific subject in theater. After a snack break, the groups switch instructors. After lunch, students will be divided again to work with a director on their roles in a One Act Play performance scheduled for the final day of camp.

“Definitely the first week of classes is more the high energy, cuter side of theater,” said Jose Rodriguez, a senior theater major and camp co-director. “The second week we go into the heavy theory of movement-based classes, voices and Shakespeare.”

A shared lunch break and “fun Fridays” will involve stand-up mic exercises and karaoke sessions to help build a sense of community among the group.

Audition preparation will be the first subject taught in order to ease the students into the camp’s program.

“It’s a great way to warm up, to let the kids express themselves and kind of get out of that comfort zone,” said Emily Pippins, a senior theater major and camp co-director. “It’s super important to let them kind of be free and figure out that they’re in a safe place, that they can be artists and can be who they want to be in that classroom.”

Other camp activities will include classes on improvisation, clowning, puppetry, makeup, costume design and technology. These classes focus on areas of interest in which camp instructors are especially experienced.

Flier provided by the UNT Theatre Department

“It’s camp, but [it’s also] like a tiny academy for them,” Pippins said. “We are dabbling in our strong suits so we are really able to give the kids high intellect.”

While theater camps are typically more performance focused, UNT’s camp will aim to offer an experience with multiple aspects in order to show how you put all those pieces together to create a production, Garcia said.

“I don’t think we’re offering anything that’s cutting edge or that’s going to change the world, but I do think what we are trying to sort of think about is theater at an intimate level,” Garcia said. “In other words, what it means to be an artist and what it means to take on these roles.”

An experience built on the variety of the art is one that allows students to assess their personal strengths and passions in different areas.

Whether they gain interest in one area or multiple styles, students will be able to apply what they learn during the camp into their every day lives and futures.

“[It’s about] showing them the different works of theater so that they can dabble in everything and figure out which one is their strong suit or their forte,” Pippins said.

Exposure to the art of theater can also be a great confidence booster for the students.

“One of the biggest things I’ve seen parents come back and say is that ‘when they came in here, they were like a wallflower, and now they’re out there and they want to be a leader and show us what they can do,’” Pippins said.

On the final day of camp, students will perform a 40-minute One Act Play for parents and friends. The camp’s performance is one that Pippins hopes can translate to involvement in theater at school.

“It’s awesome because in junior high and in high school, they both compete in that,” she said. “So it’s fun for them to kind of have a fun experience that is not so much a competition but is still going to be structured so that they know what they are going into.”

The students of the Denton community are not the only recipients of the many benefits of the camp. The camp is also a learning experience for the UNT students that are instructors.

“All of sudden, you are in charge of this humanity in front of you,” Garcia said. “How do you manage that in way that is not alienating, off-putting, but liberating and exciting? It brings a sort of social consciousness to their art making.”

It is uncertain whether this camp will be held next year, but it’s the passion of both kids and UNT students who are willing to teach that will be the deciding factor, Pippins said.

“If you are passionate about it then I think it really reflects how passionate you are when you want to share it with other people,” Pippins said. “If we find those UNT students that want to carry it on, it can go on and be bigger and better.”

Garcia says what is certain is UNT’s commitment to students in the world of theater.

“We like to say that UNT is student-centered [and so is] this particular project,” Garcia said. “That’s what makes it unique: it’s painted green.”

Featured Image: The UNT Theatre summer camps run from July 10-14 and July 17-21 and are open to current sixth to 12th-grade students. It will be held in the Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts building on the UNT campus. David Urbanik

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Dionecia Petit

Dionecia Petit

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