The Show Must Go On

Summer weather is finally upon us! It’s hard to believe that the warm season is kicking into first gear with all of the COVID-19 restrictions, but even a pandemic can’t stop the adaptable Monadnock region community from enjoying the sun while still following state-mandated protocol.

Although summer is usually filled with beach trips, traveling, summer camps and plenty of social interaction, summer this year looks like it’s going to be a little different. Fortunately, folks in the area have found plenty of alternatives to ensure the enjoyment of summer is safe and fun for everyone.

Summer camps are typically something children and teens look forward to every year. Between meeting new friends with similar interests, picking up new hobbies and trades they’re passionate about and spending as much time outdoors as they can during the limited summer season, it’s no wonder kids (and parents) enjoy summer camps. The kind of social interaction summer camps bring to the youth is crucial to their emotional growth; camps provide an artistic aspect that is unlike any other. Unfortunately, with everything going on this year, summer camps around the country will not be able to reconvene per usual.

Many summer camps in the region have decided to embrace the pandemic, tackling the imposed restrictions head-on and adequately adapting to the uncertainty the future brings. Gathering online seems to be the safest and most efficient way to resume regularly scheduled camp activities while still following the state-mandated protocols. Many camps are transferring attendees’ enrollment fees to their online camps if the participant wishes to still be a part of the summer camp community this year. Otherwise, enrollment fees will be donated to the camp at hand or rolled over for the 2021 season. Camp attendees will need internet access as well as the ability to sign into Zoom meetings when signing up for online camps.

There are several summer theater camps leading the pack in the Granite State, opting to go online this year for summer camp sessions. RB Productions – a theater summer camp based out of Concord –  recently announced that although they will not be able to offer their regular summer productions, they will be postponing the shows until the summer of 2021. They are giving their summer camp attendees the option of going virtual and taking week-long workshops and classes instead. Classes and workshops will focus on the individual attendee’s needs and interests, ultimately keeping their theater skills sharp for next summer.

The New London Barn Playhouse is the oldest continuously run summer camp in New Hampshire; it’s even included in the Register of Historic Places. This year will be a little different, however, but it won’t stop them from offering online courses for kids aged 6-8 and 9-11. The 2020 Online Summer Camp classes are designed to hone the skills for what the camp leaders are calling the “Actor’s Toolbox.” Skills such as acting and character study, movement and physicality, dance and rhythm, voice and music, technical theatre and intro to Shakespeare are just a few of the classes to be offered this summer. The goal is to hone in on the basic skills the theatre thrives on. Classes will be available Monday through Friday in 60- or 90-minute sessions.

Meanwhile, the folks over at Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton have reinvented the wheel on virtual theater summer camp. Heading into its 50th year, the Playhouse has been a staple in the southwestern New Hampshire community, and a safe space for children and teens to be able to express themselves artistically and otherwise. The Summer Playhouse launched a new website – the Digital Renaissance Project – where students in the area can connect with fellow theater lovers on a national level. The platform serves as a sort of clipboard, where ideas are posted by children and adults for others to inquire about and show support for. If enough people show interest in a project, it will be selected and incorporated into the weekly virtual schedule. Children and adults will ultimately be able to work together and see eye-to-eye on the creative process, giving a new and modernized twist to an otherwise traditional and timeless artistic activity.

To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate, there is a one-time $50 registration fee per child, which gives them full access to all of the projects on the website. Thanks to a generous donation from the Milford Rotary Club, the tuition waiver has been waived for families who have expressed financial hardship.

Having a creative outlet during the developmental stages of life is crucial to one’s artistic and inquisitive self. Kids need to know the importance of feeling empowered, engaging in empathy and freedom of expression in their day-to-day lives; theater has always been an excellent outlet that encourages these life skills. It’s extremely rewarding to know that as a community, good Samaritans across the state are aiming to innovate and adjust to these uncertain conditions for the sake of the youth.

The show must go on!