Young participants of the Theater Camp with Porkchop Productions are learning lines, dance steps and several songs this week for their performance at the Theatre on the Green at 6 p.m. Friday. But what’s the most fun thing they had to learn for this production? Falling.
That’s right. The youngest group will present a story of a turtle and an octopus who become friends. The fun of falling is a theatrical trick they will perform, giving the appearance of diving into the water. The water is actually an exercise mat hidden from the audience’s view.
“Falling down has been the most fun,” said Ella Prevatte. “I enjoyed that part.”
With vivacious head nods and nice, big grins, several other children agreed that learning to fall was cool.
One of the young participants, Parks Canipe, is a little more serious about his involvement with the theater. Canipe said he was enjoying learning his lines.
The Cheraw Arts Commission has been sponsoring the summer theater program for nearly 20 years, which means Laura Blanchette, who has been traveling to Cheraw to conduct these camps, has watched many of her young actors grow up. Balnchette is very familiar with making learning fun. She and Stacey Maxwell have made a career of writing — and teaching children to perform — their original plays with Porkchop Productions of Aiken.
Some of the older students who will be performing Friday night, now in their late teen years, have been participating in the summer program since before they were able to read. Samantha Lee, who will be playing the part of the princess this week, is one of those students.
“She was so young and so shy,” Blanchette said of Lee, “I thought her first summer would be the last time I’d see her.”
For many of the young performers who have been bitten by the theater bug, the camp has become one of the highlights of their summer each year. Plus, they have formed lasting friendships through their association with the camp.
Learning to project their voices was fun, too, said Prevatte. For this exercise, Blanchette placed students all over the theater, speaking to one another from across the empty space.
“That was fun,” Prevatte said. “We learned how to talk loud and outward.”
The weeklong camp will end with a show this Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is $2. Theatre doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
The youngest group will present “Roland and Cecelia,” the story of a turtle and an octopus. The older group will perform “The Princess Who Could Not Laugh,” a story Blanchette said is very loosely derived from an old Norwegian fairy tale.
The theater campers include assistant directors Robin Whiteman and Samantha Lee. In the younger class are Parks Canipe, Charlotte Canipe, Britton Scott, Marissa Myles, Gretchen Kollitz, Ella Prevatte, Bailey Hydrick, Alex Marsh, Samantha Marsh, Harley Chewning and Michalya McDuffie.
In the older class are Ava Moss, Maylen Harris, George Anderson, Luke Hendley, Andy Beck, Lily Myers, Caroline Smith, Sophia Prevatte, Sara Webster, Elizabeth Hydrick, Lawson Wright and Trey Lovelace.
For more information, contact the Cheraw Arts Commission at 843-537-8420, extension 12.
The Cheraw Arts Commission is supported by the United Way of Chesterfield County and the S.C. Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
— Reach Staff Writer Karen Kissiah at 843-537-5261.