Summer camp option: Acting This photo provided by Perry-Mansfield shows a musical theatre rehearsal with high school Pre-Professional Intensive students in Steamboat Springs, Colo. (Perry-Mansfield via AP)
Summer camp option: Acting
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Two decades before Dan Futterman, Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman joined up for "Capote," they collaborated on a different project, a summer theater program.
 
Back then, they were just high school students. They were looking to spend their break the way thousands of teenagers still do, having fun while indulging their passion for acting.
 
The options for summer theater camps today are as numerous as Shakespeare's soliloquies.
 
Some programs require auditions, others don't. Some focus exclusively on theater. Others incorporate a more traditional camp experience. Some concentrate on putting on large Broadway-style musicals, others on teaching the craft. Some are held in the city. Some are held in the woods.
 
"It runs the gamut from kids who have a general interest to kids who can be almost competitive, portfolio-building," said Lois Deckelbaum. She is a summer camp adviser with Tips On Trips and Camps.
 
Julia Duffy, a 17-year-old senior in Fort Collins, Colorado, has attended two very different camps. One was on the campus of a bucolic boarding school in New England, the other at New York University in Manhattan. Both required an audition, which she liked because she wanted a rigorous program. "I wanted to learn and I wanted to train," she said.
 
First, she attended a five-week program for 13- to 17-year-olds at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. It is located in Natick, Massachusetts. She studied acting, singing and dancing. And she helped put on a play and some musicals.
 
"That was a great experience," she said. "They take you into Boston on the weekends. It was a lot of fun."
 
Then last summer, she attended an 18-day program at the Steinhardt School at NYU. She attended master classes, went to workshops and took private voice lessons. The participants, who must be at least 16 years old, can live on or off campus. Duffy lived in a dorm. She said she quickly got used to being in the city.
 
At the other end of the spectrum are programs like the High School Improv Camp. It is offered by Fox Mountain Adventures in the mountains outside San Diego. Campers take part in daily improvisational workshops taught by performers from the National Comedy Theater. They also swim, play color wars and sing campfire songs.
 
Director Michael Baum said he includes those traditional activities because they involve leadership, teamwork and communication.
 
 "They are not only a ton of fun but also go hand-in-hand in developing skills that enhance improv," he said.
 
Here are tips for those interested in theater camp.
 
Plan ahead. Some programs fill up quickly. Stagedoor Manor, for instance, a three-week, non-audition camp for ages 8-17 in the Catskill Mountains of New York, was full by January.
 
Consider your personality and interests. Do you need to be center stage? Do you prefer technical theater?
 
Don't despair if you haven't studied theater and an audition is required. "It is incumbent on summer programs like Perry-Mansfield to identify those young people who may not have had that training, but who have all that potential to succeed," said Nancy Engelken. She is executive director of the 103-year-old Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
 
If the camp is on a college campus, find out if it's run by the school or by an outside group. Ask about oversight and what activities are available when campers aren't in class, Deckelbaum advised.
 
The New York Summer School for the Arts program that Futterman attended in 1984 as a 17-year-old was held in Saratoga Springs on a campus where students lived in co-ed dorms without much supervision, he said.
 
"It was a sort of free-for-all," he recalled.
 
The program, today advertises a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior. It was run by the now-defunct Circle Repertory Company. It was there that Futterman and Miller, classmates at Mamaroneck High School in suburban New York City, met Hoffman. He lived upstate near Rochester.
 
They didn't put on any shows, but they studied theater, dance and improvisation.
 
"It was the first time I was introduced to using personal memories and feelings as substitutions for a character's," said Futterman, an Oscar-nominated actor and screenwriter.
 
Although fewer theater programs exist for young children, there are some. Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan has programs for kids as young as third grade.
 
For children interested in theater but not ready for overnight camp, Perry-Mansfield offers a weeklong day camp for kids ages 8 to 10 that is an introduction to the performing arts. For older students, it offers two-, four- and six-week overnight programs that include the option of English horseback riding as an elective. Dustin Hoffman is an alumnus.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do some summer camps require auditions?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (29)
  • emilym2-pla
    2/08/2016 - 05:41 p.m.

    Dan Futterman, Bennett Miller, and Philip Seymour collaborated on doing a theater summer camp program. This program has different levels, some more competitive than others. Having the opportunity to go to this acting/theater camp gives kids the chance to become more known and build their profiles. This is an overnight camp but the day camp is offered. Not many theater camps are available or even around so it is exciting that an opportunity like this is here. It involves civic engagement because it is encouraging kids to come to this acting camp. It involves engagement by offering and allowing kids to join this camp with different levels, competitively or just for fun. It's exciting to know that anyone at different ranges can join this camp and anyone from any community.

  • ben0424-yyca-byo
    2/08/2016 - 08:40 p.m.

    I think that summer camps are great for people that are interested in acting. Acting isn't my favorite, but I know few friends that love to act. I think that having auditions for an acting camp makes sense because people are acting and auditions are part of acting. This would be a fun choice for people interested in acting.

  • william1108-yyca
    2/08/2016 - 09:40 p.m.

    Well, I don't like to do any acting that much unless it is very fun. Some times I like to act because I have to do it or because it is very funny and very fun to do. Maybe one day I will enjoy any acting. Even if it is very boring and not fun.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/08/2016 - 11:26 p.m.

    The students might have wanted to go to summer camp for their personality and interest because people might have wanted other students to be getting their interest and personality up which people wanted them to get their interest up. The summer camp might have made a lot of students to get signed up for the summer camp because people might have wanted people to get more students to be staying in for summer camp. The people might have wanted to get more people to get their personality and interest up because people might have been thinking that the summer camp. People might have wanted to get more people to be increasing their interest because people might have wanted them to get more people to be getting a lot of their interest up.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why do some summer camps require auditions?
    Answer: Because some of the summer camps might have wanted people to get interested in their summer camp.

  • kody-str
    2/09/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    I think the age 16 is a apropreit

  • curtis-str
    2/09/2016 - 10:15 a.m.

    So they get better and better at what there doing

  • tiffany-str
    2/09/2016 - 10:17 a.m.

    So pepole can learn more in the summer

  • mason-str
    2/09/2016 - 10:30 a.m.

    Because you have to practice.

  • haylieg-bru
    2/09/2016 - 11:38 a.m.

    There are plenty of reasons, why some summer camps hold auditions while some don't. For example Julia Duffy chose a camp that held an audition so, she could "learn and train". Additionally some students, who want more of a challenge will go to an audition camp while others may not. As Duffy has also said she wanted a rigorous program, which she received. Above all some students are shy and others not having audition only camps is fair.

  • crawford,madelinec-bru
    2/09/2016 - 01:05 p.m.

    Some summer camps require auditions. Auditions help administrators/directors see how serious people are about going into their program. If the person auditioning acted like they didn't want to be there, or they didn't want to be in the program, they might not make it in for lack of professionalism and enthusiasm. Auditions also help the administrators/directors see their full talent and potential. If a camp was putting on a production, the administrators/directors might want to be more exclusive with their participants in order to produce the show to their best ability. The auditions can also help with the instructing portion of the camps too. They can help administrators/directors decide where to start with the instruction. Auditions should be required to help with camps in order to produce the best actors/actresses and help the people in the program get better at acting.

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