Funding cuts to the arts in schools and communities throughout the area prompted two local organizations to join forces in bringing to Wapa-koneta a program aimed at keeping youth active in drama and theater.
“To be or not to be,” a drama camp geared toward youth ages 8 to 18, is scheduled to begin July 18 and continue through July 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day at the St. Paul United Church of Christ, 101 S. Perry St.
Performances are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28, in the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center, on Redskin Trail. If there is enough interest in the camp, a children’s play and an older youth play would be presented after the camp, which is being put together by the Riverside Art Center and staff of the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center.
Throughout the week of camp, children will be able to practice for specific parts in the play with auditions held on July 23, after the week-long camp has finished. Local playwrights’ work is being considered to be the storyline for the performances with plays chosen based
on the number of children involved in the camp.
“We are thrilled to do this program,” said Maggie Bowsher, who is to serve as the administrator of the Riverside Art Center Drama Camp. “There is a definite need in the area and we are happy to be part of this program.
“There is so much we can do with this program,” she said. “We can expand to different areas and possibly do more than one show a year.”
Bowsher said the first year they are teaching the students “how to act out the parts, how to present themselves on stage, and how to be a better actor on stage.”
Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center Events Coordinator Pam Egbert said watching the news recently and hearing what local schools are doing she’s grown concerned realizing more have had to cut their arts programs due to a lack of funds in those departments.
She contacted Riverside Art Center officials to see how they could pair up and provide opportunities for local youth to showcase their talent.
Egbert said she’s excited to be part of the camp, not only to teach children about the arts but to expand the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center’s role in the community and keep it active during the summer as well.
The purpose of the drama camp is to not only teach children about acting, but to continue annually with lessons expanding to backstage preparation, scene set-up, directing, costuming and other aspects involved in putting a play together.
“The idea of this camp is to give the students the tools they need to not only be in these productions, but to take what they learn back to their schools or communities,” Egbert said. “We have so much talent coming out of this area that moves on to everything from Hollywood to Broadway. It would be great to encourage the youth to reach for their goals.
“This is a way they can experience theater and be involved,” she said.
Drama Camp Director Cheryl Mulholland said beginning next year, they would like to teach more about the other aspects involved in theater, from creating three-dimensional sets and set up of the stage to designing backdrops. This year, the focus is to be on projecting voices and performing on stage.
“During the auditions, the students will be able to share what they have learned and hopefully get the part they are auditioning for,” Mulholland said.
Involved in Encore Theatre, out of Lima, for several years and having taken part in many productions, Mulholland said she is excited to share her passion with youth of the area, not just those from Auglaize County.
Also working with youth involved in the drama camp is to be Nick Bader, an Elida High School student, who hopes for a career in theater and to be producing it in New York one day.
Cost for the camp is $50 per student, with everyone asked to bring a brown bag lunch each day. Scholarships are available to help defray costs.
Organizers also hope to be able to eventually get some grant funding from the Ohio Arts Council to assist with the camp.
“Our goal is to not leave any one behind and provide this camp to anyone who is genuinely interested in acting and being part of this,” Bowsher said.
For more information, to register for the drama camp or to submit a one-act play, drama or comedy to be considered for a performance, contact Maggie Bowsher at 567-356-0669 or Cheryl Mulholland at 419-227-4523. Applications also may be picked up at the Riverside Art Center. Anyone interested in assisting with the camp also is welcome.