Monthly Archives: May 2014
Participants in the first session of the Young Actors Theatre Camp finished their final performance at the end of that first week with great aplomb. But, instead of continuing on with their summer activities elsewhere, they decided to sign up for another week of Camp Intrepid. And then another.
“The camp surpassed our expectations,” says Sean Yael-Cox, Intrepid’s Co-Founder and Director of Education. “We were all amazed at how much the kids could accomplish in such a short amount of time. We are going to do our best to deliver what they are asking for.”
To that end, the Young Actors Theatre Camp has expanded this summer, with more than twice the number of sessions being offered. Additionally, each of the eight weeklong Young Actors camps will focus on a new play, so that campers can repeat sessions without repeating a production. Sessions will take place at the Encinitas Community Center. Click here for a Young Actors Theatre Camp schedule, beginning June 23.
“Kids can expect a lot of fun but also a great learning experience,” says local theatre talent Abby DeSpain, who recently received the Craig Noel Young Artist Award, and attended three sessions Camp Intrepid last summer. “I especially liked learning stage combat from Lance Arthur Smith,” she says of the local professional actor and fightmaster, who is one of a slew of guest artists invited to teach campers during their sessions.
“It is a fun-packed week,” says Rachel Kanevsky, who has attended five Camp Intrepid sessions over the last year. “Camp Intrepid is a new way for any kid to get involved with theater, gain important skills, and make new friends.”
In addition to the Young Actors Theatre Camp, both the Musical Theatre Camp and the Shakespeare Camp will return – each for two-week sessions held at the Performing Arts Center at San Dieguito Academy. Into the Woods and King Lear are on the docket, with sessions beginning June 30 and July 14, respectively. Registration is now open.
While these particular selections of musical theatre and Shakespeare may seem daunting for two-week camp sessions, Sean is confident that the campers will be up to the challenge, especially those who are returning for their second summer.
“We choose plays that inspire young actors to be creative and use their imaginations,” explains Sean. “Both Into The Woods and King Lear are incredibly complex pieces, and we wanted to challenge the students and raise the bar for those who attended last year.”
Parent Heidi Maretz, whose daughter, Tess, attended the Musical Theatre Camp last year, agrees. “Tess has had lots of performing experience, and Camp Intrepid provided a great experience for both new and more experienced performers.”
While the Young Actors Theatre Camp is geared towards ages 8-14, both the Musical Theatre and Shakespeare camps focus on teenagers 13-18. Sean feels it is important to inspire the campers in both their passion and their commitment to the work, and this summer’s repertory reflects that.
“These are plays that we love and are passionate about,” says Sean. “I think Into The Woods is one of the greatest musicals ever written. King Lear is a fantastic ensemble show filled with amazing characters, greed, revenge, sword fights, honor, madness, insults, a storm, betrayal and, in the end, unconditional love and forgiveness.”
In addition to honing the theatrical talents of the students, parents of previous campers have also reported that the camp sessions have strengthened other skills, including public speaking and academic collaboration. While drama camp is memorable for being fun and entertaining in the moment, its lasting advantages cannot be denied.
“Rachel’s theater classes and camps have made her a very proficient public speaker and let her do things she might be too reserved to try otherwise,” says Inna Kanevsky, Rachel’s mother. “This year, Rachel won a high level award at the County Science Fair, where she made a very good impression on the judges by her presentation skills and confidence. It was pretty much all acting, as Rachel reported being nervous the whole time.”
“The kids learn about everything that goes in to putting on a production, but they also learned about teamwork and being responsible to each other,” agrees Whitney DeSpain, Abby’s mother. “The teachers at Intrepid are fantastic.”
Camp Intrepid is helmed by Sean, as well as by Erin Petersen, an Intrepid Associate Artist and the company’s Internship Program Director. It is no secret that these two are the main reasons why campers are repeatedly returning to this program.
“Erin is a wonderful teacher and encourager, and there is never a dull moment,” says Inna. “Intrepid is one of the very few programs with the focus on acting, as most everywhere else children do musical theater only. Even though most summer ‘shows’ will be musicals, we know that acting skills will be given attention, which is what Rachel and I want.”
Andrew Moore, a student at San Dieguito Academy, participated in the Shakespeare Camp last summer, and continued his exploration with the SDA internship program, playing the title role in the intern production of Macbeth earlier this year. Throughout this process, he was able to work side-by-side with Sean to explore one of Shakespeare’s darkest villains, applying the seeds that were planted during Camp Intrepid.
“I was surprised and amazed at the amount of knowledge I took from the camp,” says Andrew. “I went in expecting a bit of fun, and I came out with a level of self confidence I didn’t think I would ever have.”
Jennifer Moore, Andrew’s mother, appreciates that the Camp Intrepid instructors become mentors to the students they have in repeat sessions. “Andrew liked the way that Sean approached Shakespeare’s writing and seemed to gain a better understanding of the play and the author,” she says. “He also had a good time putting the play together, studying the stage fighting and working with the other teens.”
However, those hoping to take part in Camp Intrepid this summer should hurry. Returning campers are already planning their summers around Intrepid’s camp sessions and spaces are filling up quickly.
“Rachel has signed up for almost every session this summer,” says Inna. “She is super excited to be with the company all day and to be able to have a show at the end of each week.”
For Sean, it is important that the kids not only learn what a theatre experience involves, but also recognize that the skills which go into theatre production are the same skills that will be useful in other aspects of life. For this reason, campers tend to have all levels of experience and a wide variety of future ambitions outside of the world of theatre.
While Rachel confides that she loves the theatre, she is not looking to make it a career. However, she looks forward to experiencing the energy and magic that comes with pulling together a performance.
“I like the final dress rehearsal,” says Rachel, “because everybody is really energetic and excited to perform and we get to be in our makeup and costumes…it’s an unforgettable experience.”
Registration for all sessions of Camp Intrepid are now open, with limited availability. Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Sipping a glass of aged pinot noir while sampling a bit of “Top Chef”- worthy cuisine may not seem the most likely way to support a local theatre company. But thanks to the Encinitas Rotary Club, the official organizer of the Encinitas Wine and Food Festival on June 7 at the San Diego Botanic Garden, over 21 community nonprofits will see a significant contribution to their programming, including Intrepid Shakespeare Company.
“In furtherance of ‘service above self,’” explains Festival Co-Chair Rich Houk, referencing the Rotary Club’s mission statement, “the goal of the festival is to bring people together, community and beneficiaries, for a common cause.”
The evening will feature representation from 20 restaurants, 14 wineries and six breweries. Guests are invited to stroll through the Hamilton Children’s Garden while sampling delicacies from local establishments, listening to live music and perusing the silent auction items, which include high-end ski trips, aged whisky, golf clubs and Hawaiian getaways.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Festival Co-Chair Sandy Houk. “There’s a lot of wonderful energy each year.”
As a festival beneficiary, Intrepid Shakespeare will be selling tickets to the event, which range from $90-$500, depending on the level of VIP access desired.
The beneficiary model for the festival, which has been adopted by other Rotary Clubs because of its success, guarantees that the nonprofit organizations receive a significant portion of these ticket sales.
“It’s unique,” says Rich. “Not many events are structured they way we are. When you buy your tickets, the majority of the money is credited back directly towards the organization. It’s written in the contract. When a $90 ticket is purchased, $60 goes to beneficiary. With both the $135 and the VIP $500 levels, 100% goes directly to beneficiary.”
“The Rotary Club is supportive of anything that is going to help our neighborhood,” says Wine and Food Festival Board Member Marti Rosenberg. “We are thrilled that Intrepid Shakespeare could be involved. We love having theatre in North County.”
“We hear nothing but great things about Intrepid,” adds Sandy.
Intrepid will also be donating Season Five Subscriptions and Camp Intrepid summer sessions to the grand raffle, which will be held at the festival. Raffle tickets, which are $15 (3 for $40), should be purchased in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners need not be present.
Last year, the sold out Encinitas Rotary Wine and Food Festival raised over $115,000 for local charities and nonprofits. The goal is to top that number this year.
“It’s a great opportunity for small groups who can’t throw big elaborate fundraisers,” says Marti. “The Rotary does all the work to help our community organizations.”
“Attendees can look forward to a beautiful setting with quality food and quality beverages,” says Rich. “But the purpose of the event is to bring people together.”
For tickets to the Encinitas Rotary Wine and Food Festival on June 7, as well as information about becoming a sponsor, click here.
Fran Gercke, one of the actors in Intrepid’s upcoming staged reading of Caryl Churchill’s A Number, ponders the numerous themes of this multi-layered play. Taking the stage on Monday night with Old Globe Associate Artist Jim Winker, the two will tackle this dynamic piece that explores the controversy surrounding human cloning while folding it into the complexity of father/son relationships.
Written in 2002, during the height of the Dolly sheep-cloning foray, Churchill’s story revolves around a father who has cloned his son, and the potential fallout of his actions. Fran portrays the son – in the various cloned incarnations. While the premise seems dystopian at best, the central conflict of the play remains ultimately relatable.
“I think of A Number as a play set against a backdrop of cloning that’s not about cloning at all,” says Old Globe Literary Manager and Dramaturg Danielle Amato, who will be directing Monday night’s staged reading. “It’s about fathers and sons, about parenthood and regret, about what we inherit and what we create for ourselves. It’s about all the same questions that have obsessed playwrights from Aeschylus to Ibsen to O’Neill. The cloning is just another context, revealing slightly new facets of an age-old story.”
Caryl Churchill is a playwright known for taking risks – both in thematic exploration as well as with her writing style. That this play revolves around a controversial issue is no surprise. However, that the writing offers opportunities for the characters to approach these issues from a diverse spectrum of emotional perspectives is a gift for the actors. This gift is inherent in Churchill’s writing style – abstract yet casual, fragmented yet thoughtful.
“The style Churchill has chosen for A Number is very elliptical,” explains Danielle. “She takes the gaps and half-sentences that mark our normal, everyday speech and heightens them into something like poetry.”
Jim agrees that this distinctive writing style makes this play ideal for a reading setting and the audience should be prepared for “active participation in the unfolding of a fascinating story.”
“The fragmentation of language also adds to the searching quality of the story,” he says. “There are no easy solutions or quick fixes in this plot. The humanity of the characters continues to be revealed with every reading.”
Even though the writing may seem challenging on the surface, it is apparent that the actors are quick to embrace its realistic nature. The audience will be able to navigate it as well, finding the familiarities that may seem too elusive in typical dramatic realism.
“I think Churchill is a great observer of the way in which we try to behave in any given situation,” offers Fran. “So the character is dealing with any number of vibrant reactions to the situation but is choosing to express something on the surface that is entirely different. Like we often do in life.”
Pairing this particular writing style with such sweeping themes also creates a terrific dramatic tension for the audience, say the actors, as they try to anticipate where the play will take them. The through line of this piece is anything but typical, although the ending is very powerful.
“Churchill leaves the audience with questions to consider, but not just as an intellectual exercise,” says Fran. “If the actors do their jobs, I think the audience is left wondering about these people, and wondering what happens next even though Churchill does a great job of ending a play just where it needs to end. It’s a complete experience that takes up residence in the back of your mind.
As happens with Intrepid’s readings, the success of the performances resides in the audience’s willingness to engage and experience theatre in a new and imaginative way. Danielle says that A Number is the perfect choice for a reading series.
“Churchill’s imagination is incredibly powerful and theatrical, and the piece is inspiring in the depth it achieves in such a short period of time,” says Danielle. “The audience can expect to be surprised, to be swept along, to puzzle out a compelling mystery. They can expect to hear two fantastic actors bring to life a unique and fascinating play.”
“If plays were coffee,” she adds, “this one would be something strong and Turkish in a tiny cup.”
A Number by Caryl Churchill, a staged reading. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Monday, May 19. 6:30 pm complimentary wine/appetizer reception. 7:00 pm reading. $15. Rsvp to email@example.com and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase a reading series subscription.