Summer camp teaches acting skills

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Gracie Hollifield, 15, playing Mulan runs through her lines Monday at Activate Drama at the Dunn Center.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Kids role-playing, singing, dancing and interacting with other kids — this is the stuff of parents’ dreams when imagining how to fill the long days of summer vacation.

About 40 kids were making their parents proud at the Dunn Center this week and last week, as they participated in Activate Drama’s Summer camp. The two-week camp gets participants off their iPads and gaming systems for two weeks, molding kids ages 5-18 into singers, dancers and actors as they prepare to perform a professional stage production that is open to the public.

Activate Drama will present “Mulan Jr.” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Dunn Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and are available at the Dunn Center Box Office or at the door on show nights. Children under age 4 will not be admitted.

Artistic director Danelle Cauley said this is the ninth year the nonprofit organization has sponsored summer camps in the area.

Cauley, a teacher at Faith Christian School, devotes her time off during the summer months to work for free producing the camps because she feels it’s something important to offer local kids.

“I think we need arts supported locally so young people have a place where they can explore their talents,” Cauley said. “It’s important to provide access to the arts that is education-based and teaches the performers how to improve their craft.”

Cauley and Activate Drama hired five young professionals to lead the camp, including Morgan Cobb, the play’s director. Cobb also directed a play last summer for Activate Drama, “Madagascar Jr.”

Cobb said the theme of the “Mulan Jr.” production is a great lesson for the campers and the audience coming to see the play later this week.

“I love how Mulan follows her own path and carves out her own destiny for herself, different from what was expected from her,” Cobb said. “There’s a theme in the play, ‘Written in Stone.’ It’s said over and over again, until the end, when we learn things are not written in stone. Mulan is in charge of her future. It’s important for these children to know they follow their own path. I love that. Nothing is written in stone and these kids can choose their own destiny.”

Gracie Hollifield, 15, is playing the part of Mulan in the upcoming production. She said she’s been to several Activate Drama summer camps.

“I love the atmosphere of the camp and being a role model to the younger kids and getting to interact with them. It’s just really fun — we all have fun together,” Hollifield said.

Hollifield also said she loves playing Mulan and could relate to the lesson Mulan learns about being herself.

“Being who you are is sometimes not that easy,” Hollifield said. “But being true to yourself and not worrying about what others think is good to learn about, whether you’re a kid or an adult.”

Hollifield said she’s typically not too nervous until right before the curtain goes up.

“When they call, ‘Places!’ I feel a surge of nervousness,” she said. “But being nervous is not all bad — if you were bored on stage, that wouldn’t be very interesting,” she said with a laugh.

Activate Drama is sponsoring two other programs this summer.

A full-length production of “James and the Giant Peach” will be performed on July 26-27 at the Dunn Center and a camp for participating actors ages 11-18 still has a few spots left. The camp runs from noon to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday starting July 8. The production also welcomes adults and children to be ensemble players in the production and attend the evening practices.

A week of intensive theater skills classes will be offered for kids July 1-5. Kids ages 6-12 will attend class from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and ages 13-18 will attend classes from 1:15 to 5:15 p.m. These classes cost $100 per student.

Email Cauley at activate.drama@gmail.com for more information about upcoming camps or classes.