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Theater camp helps kids gain acting skills, confidence

By KEVIN KELLEY

FAIRVIEW PARK – In an August 2010 article in Interview magazine, actress Blake Lively revealed that she, like may actors, is naturally a shy person.

“But being in [acting] classes pushed me to break out of that a little bit,” she said.

Helping children overcome shyness and gain confidence are among the main goals of the Fairview Park Fine Arts and Theatre Association’s annual summer theater camp.

The weeklong day camp, held at Bain Park Cabin, took place in the last week in June. Launched in 2010, the camp is for children ages 6 to 12 and runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $75 for FPFATA members and $105 for non members.

Activities include improvisation exercises, singing, dancing and games.

“The goal is to make kids feels more comfortable in front of a group,” said Terri Klopp, the director of both FPFATA and the camp. “We’re trying to build their theater skills,” Klopp said

Many of the exercises campers perform come from books about theater camps which Klopp has researched. Klopp also hopes to help participants become more comfortable auditioning for roles.

But a main goal, she said, is for the kids to have fun.

“Kids today don;t have a lot of things to do outside of sports,” Klopp said, adding that the camp gives kids an opportunity to develop skills and an activity away from video games or other screen devices.

Having fun was what both Hannah Danburg and Lucia Mack liked about the camp. Danburg, a fifth-grader at Gilles-Sweet Elementary School in Fairview Park, participated in her seventh FPFATA camp and has had roles in the group’s plays since she was 3.

Mack, a sixth-grader at Maple Intermediate School in North Olmsted, was back for her second FPFATA camp. She attended at the suggestion of her mother.

Many former campers return to serve as counselors who help Klopp run the camp. Anna Ostrander, a freshman at Magnificat High School, attended three FPFATA camps and completed her second year as a counselor. “I like to work with the kids,” she said, adding she enjoys passing on what she’s learned about theater.

Like Ostrander, Alice Chambers, a seventh-grader at Lewis F. Mayer Middle School, said the camp gives participants confidence and help them over come shyness. “It’s fun to see the kids improve,” said Chambers, who attended five camps and served as counselor the pst two years.

Klopp said much of her theatrical knowledge simply comes from working in productions. She took to the stager, both as a child and an adult, in the numerous plays put on by her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Westwood Road in Westlake. Klopp credits the late Ernie Lowry, a fellow church member who directed the plays, as a role model in stagecraft leadership.

In addition to serving as FPFATA’s charter director since 2009, Klopp was director of the St. Richard Parish Theater Company from 2011-2013. She also assisted with or directed plays at Fairview High School between 2006 and 2009.

FPFATA’s camps typically draw 20-25 students each year, although attendance reached 50 one year. Klopp is considering launching a second camp for children 12 to 18 years old. A camp for middle- and high school students, Klopp said, would tend to draw more boys, who tend to join theater in middle school, later the girls.

For more information about FPFATA and its activities, including its production of “Annie” July 20-22 at Fairview High School’s Frank Barr Auditorium, visit fpfata.org.

 

 

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