Finding their stage Voices: Summer camp explores life under the bright lights

Published on Thursday, 31 July 2014 21:02 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

After taking a break, nine young performers were ready to get back to rehearsal Thursday morning.

They received some instructions from the director – “quiet stage right, please” and “big volume.” Then it was time to act out a scenario where someone is needed to replace the Wicked Witch of the West, who has been killed.

It’s all part of a summer camp for children called “So You Think You Can Act?”

The camp, which is put on by APEX Entertainment, in conjunction with the City of Tyler's Liberty Hall, takes place this week, with a public performance at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Hall, 103 E. Erwin St.

The play is called “From Bad to Worse” and features fairytale characters.

“For years I’ve taught summer camp, and we’ve always had pre-written scripts that are out there in the public domain. To me, that is like teaching to the test,” said Felicity Enas, creative director of APEX Theatre 20. “So what we do in our camp is we do not have a script. The students learn basics of theater and how to write a short play, and we do it as a whole group. There’s not one person that takes the lead. I encourage all of them to give me their ideas. I may give them the start of a story and they’ll take it from there, but it takes most of the week to build their characters, write the story and rehearse it so that it’s ready for performance on Saturday at 10:30 (a.m.).”

Ms. Enas said some students at the camp have acting experience, while others have never done theater before.

She said she teaches the students safety in the theater, which is important, and the other discipline she is known for is voice production.

“They have to be able to be heard, even if they’ve never been on a stage, so voice production is another large component of theater camp,” she said.

On Wednesday, the students did script work, and on Thursday, they rehearsed and did more script work, she said. Games are also part of the week.

Ms. Enas said most students come to the camp because they are interested in acting and want to act.

Gracie Carpenter, 10, said she wants to be an actress and has learned how to project her voice louder.

Another student, 9-year-old Kailynn Andrews, also wants to be an actress.

In fact, she said she has performed before in school.

“It’s just all really familiar to me,” Kailynn said.

She said she’s excited about Saturday’s performance and is glad to do the play.

Carter Oyer, 10, has appeared in Tyler Civic Theatre Center’s production of “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

He said he too is excited about Saturday’s performance and has learned how to write a script.

This is the second year for the summer camp.

And Ms. Enas said overall she hopes the young performers leave with confidence, “knowing that inside of them is this large voice and controlling when and where to use it.”

“We know they’ve got large voices off stage but need them on stage, so just giving them confidence to walk out here under lights – bright lights” and perform, she said.

There is no cost for Saturday’s public performance, and Ms. Enas encouraged people to attend.