Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre's Summer Camp for Kids
Well, we just got back from our daughter's VERY FAVORITE event of the year - Shakespeare Camp! It's part of the educational outreach of one of *my* favorite theaters, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. You can read our interview with Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre here.
Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre is comprised of Chicago-based actors who ONLY perform in northwest Michigan every August! Founded by Elizabeth Laidlaw in 2003, LST is beloved by the community and travelers alike. LST only performs in Benzie County, in the picturesque town of Frankfort, right on Lake Michigan. LST has as a stage the Old Ice Rink, a perfect flat spot in hidden in the woods, right in town. Frankfort is a beautiful beach town, beloved of many (yes, the population swells exponentially in the summer). There are great shops, restaurants, a fantastic library, and plenty of ice cream. And, Lakeside Shakespeare!
This year, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre performed two of my favorite plays, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Now, I have seen MSND dozens of times, all over the US and abroad (even one in Regent's Park, London!). This was, by far, the best production I've ever seen - truly funny, superbly acted, and with actors we know and love.
This was our nine year-old daughter's second year at Shakespeare camp, and it was all she could talk about the month before. One of the theatre's long-time educators, Christy Arington, was again on deck for the camp. Newcomer Danny Taylor ably rounded out the educational team. These two actors not only taught a group of kids each morning, but performed every night for two weeks in professional productions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
L and Christy Arington
L and Danny Taylor (as Puck)
So what do you get, when you have 35 kids of all ages (5 through 12), the Bard, three days, and two exceptional teachers? An experience of a lifetime.
The camp started with warmups - both physical and mental. Then on to games, and then pairing up to create a play that the kids would perform only 2 days later!
The second day, the students were warmly greeted by Christy and Danny - or should I say, Christy and Danny were swarmed by the kids? There was a synergy here, far more than you'd expect from two theater educators and a group of Shakespeare-loving students. It was incredible to watch the transformation of both the kids and the emerging play over the course of three days - the students learned, created, thought, acted, and loved it. Christy and Danny were patient, taught through example, and led the students to an excellent play on Friday night.
The third day of Shakespeare camp was focused on tightening and rehearsing the show. The kids worked hard on their play, remembering lines and staging.
LST summer camp 2011
And then the show - a brilliantly put-together production of their OWN ideas - funny, smart, and full of magical creatures large and small. The audience loved it - laughing and proud of all the kids. And the magic continued - many kids stayed, to be REAL FAIRIES in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Fairies, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Lily Mojekwu as Queen Titania)
How can we thank Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre for loving, teaching, caring about our kids so? This was the best summer camp we've seen - and Christy and Danny were consummate professionals, educating about theater and Shakespeare to a wide range of ages (not so easy) and learning styles. I have to say, all of the students (and parents) loved it - friendships were formed, email addresses exchanged, plans made for next year. And certainly, I saw a great love of learning, of theater, of Shakespeare born, re-energized, or confirmed.
Our daughter says: "It's really fun, fun for kids, and I love it. It teaches you about theater, lines, and Shakespeare. You get to do fun games that later on you learn mean something in the theater. Christy is really kind and has a magnificent theater voice. Danny is a good teacher and he interacts well with the students. I can't wait to go back!"
Thank you, Christy Arington and Danny Taylor, for your extraordinary educational work this past week - you've changed lives. Thank you, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, for providing such an incredible educational opportunity for kids from around the Midwest.
Want more? Our friends at Books for Walls shared what the LST actors were reading!