Hillsboro summer camp filled with drama

Students act out a scene from Jaberwocky by Lewis Carroll during drama camp in Hillsboro last week. The program was available through Hillsboro Recreation Commission.

While summer can always be filled with a bit of drama with kids having no school and extra time on their hands, last week there was more drama than normal in Hillsboro thanks to Summer Drama Camp.

The drama camp is a week-long exploration into theatre basics and performance that allow campers to develop new skills, build confidence and expand their imagination. The day camp is run through the Hillsboro Recreation Commission and has two groups—one for 1st-5th graders and one for 6th-12th graders. Throughout the week students learn improv warm-up games and a short skit to perform. They learn some theatre basics along the way, which varies depending on the ages and experiences of the group. Each group meets for 90 minutes for five days and then together they have an evening performance on the last day.

This year, the performance included two short plays, a poem, and improv lessons for the audience. The title was Curiouser and Curiouser by Publisher Drama Notebook and Playwright Jennifer Reif.

Leah Rose led the camp, sponsored by the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Association, and seemed to have a great time doing it.

“I love the art of theatre. Any opportunity to share a piece of that world with others and hopefully get them to enjoy it is a joy for me. I also enjoy working with youth and watching them learn and grow as performers and as people,” she said.

Rose has learned much from when she started teaching drama camp.

“When I first took over drama camp five years ago, the idea of putting a show together in such a limited amount of time, with kids, was intimidating. It’s still a challenge, and I continue to learn more each year about what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.

She has found that different students have different strengths.

“It’s hard to balance picking a show, casting it ahead of time and playing to the strengths of the students too. I also know my strengths lie more with working with the older students, so it always stretches me a bit to know what will work best with the elementary students,” said Rose.

But one way to help out has been to bring in assistants. This year Rose had two—Ainsley Duell and Alana Suderman.

She said, “They were fantastic with backstage projects, working with students and performing on stage. Alana is the oldest of five, and has a calming personality, so she was a great stable and reassuring presence with the younger students. Ainsley is a natural leader and teacher and brings a significant amount of experience working with elementary students, so she was a great voice in giving instructions and explanations while also really connecting with kids.”

Rose found that there were a variety of strengths across the two groups. The older group came in with previous experience in drama camp, school shows and even some other theatre opportunities.

She said, “It was a very relaxed and focused group that had no problem taking on memorizing multiple lines quickly, learning blocking and starting at a higher base level of acting skills.”

The younger group had lots of energy and enthusiasm. The ones that had more lines to memorize did so quite well. The ones that had to do more action were eager to engage and commit to playing the part.

“There was a good blend of new and experienced performers, and the youngest in the group had no trouble keeping up with the older ones,” said Rose.

One student who participated was Emerson Corby who will be going into 7th grade in the fall. He played several roles and enjoyed it all.

“I loved performing Alice in Wonderland. When the lights turned on I felt excited to put on a show. It was a lot of fun changing costumes for all of my characters,” said Corby. “It was fun wearing different costumes and also playing the improv games. Leah really made the week fun for us.”

He felt he learned many lessons from Rose, but one stood out to him.

“One of the things I learned was about the 3/4 rule. That means that 3/4 of your body has to be facing the crowd at all times,” he said.

Rose learned that struggling to balance creating a show to perform but still simply having fun in the process can sometimes be a challenge for her, but she has been working on it.

She said, “My hope is that the students walk away enjoying their week, having fun performing, and want to continue engaging with theatre.”

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