‘Positive drama’ at summer programme
All the World's a Stage, and the year 2020 has certainly been a year full of negative drama.
This summer, however, Bermuda saw positive drama as 30 students aged 11 to 17 participated in the inaugural Summer Drama Program 2020 conducted by Venture Theatre and sponsored by The Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts as part of its Outreach programme.
The Festival's mission is to Entertain, Educate and Inspire and working with Venture Theatre was an opportunity to put into place building blocks for the 2021 Festival.
Following the successful production of The Glass Menagerie in the 2020 Festival, Venture Theatre's founder, Rowan Vickers, and the Festival's Executive Director, Cindy Campbell, shared a vision of producing a summer Shakespeare Festival in 2021.
Both wanted to provide the opportunity to engage young Bermudians to act in supporting roles. The summer of 2020 hopefully laid the groundwork for 2021. Students, in addition to learning stage craft through theatre games and coaching, worked on Shakespearean monologues and scenes.
One of the most rewarding parts of the summer, according to Director Vickers, was “watching the students grow in confidence and technical prowess.”
Working with Shakespeare is a bit more challenging because the language is 400 years old and the rhythm of the dialogue is more heightened and poetic.
Director Vickers was very pleased with the amount of interest in the programme and is considering additional training into the school year.
Camp member Jack McDonnel said, “I have to say, my favourite part of the camp was probably doing warmups in the morning. Each warmup we did focused on vocal skills and physical skills. We did stretching and yoga and then we loosened our voices. It was really fun.”
When asked how the camp challenged him and what he learned, Jack said, “The camp challenged me to speak louder when I am on stage. I also had to learn how to face and deal with the challenge of everyone in the audience staring at me…I learned that when I put emotion in my acting it looks as if the scene is happening in real life.”
Emma Roberts joined the first camp session and enjoyed it so much she signed up for the second session as well. “My experience was extraordinary. One of the challenges for me was to be more confident, but thanks to the supportive environment and with the help of everyone, I was able to feel comfortable quickly. When I first heard about the Venture Theatre Program, I was somewhat worried I wouldn't understand or be able to perform since it would be the first time Performing in any of Shakespeare's plays but it surpassed my expectations. Thanks to research, analysing the text and of course with the help of camp counsellors, Rowan and Leigha, I was able to fully understand, appreciate and perform.”
Parents had the opportunity to see the young actors perform from a wide variety of Comedies and Tragedies at the conclusion of each of the three camps. Cindy Campbell noted that, “I was very impressed with how well the students presented each of their characters. Often, when watching Shakespeare, you must attune your ear to comprehend what the characters are speaking about. I was most impressed that the students presented their scenes so skillfully there was no challenge at all in understanding the scene immediately.”
Mr. Vickers and Mrs. Campbell continue to work together to realize their shared vision of providing outdoor Shakespeare for the summer of 2021.
• Press release from The Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts