Students Unleash Imaginations at Summer Theatre Camp

For the performance of “The Time Machine” third-grade student Isaiah Predman’s self-assembled costume was a pirate outfit with a rainbow-colored clown wig for his character, Curly.

Building a costume was one of Isaiah’s favorite parts of the recent four-day Summer Theatre Camp at Van Singel Fine Arts Center, located at Byron Center High School, he said.

“Dressing up is fun,” said Isaiah, a Marshall Elementary student, before beginning a dress rehearsal with the cast of other third-through-eighth-grade campers.

The experience was an adventure in imagination, self-expression and developing confidence for the novice actors, said program directors.

“We have a crazy-haired pirate because why not?” said Maria Blanco, camp co-director.

Blanco, a teacher in Farmington Public Schools, and Rosanne Steffens, who has taught acting at GR Civic School of the Theatre Arts and at Kenowa Hills Public Schools, led the introduction to theater. Students learned to role play, improvise, rehearse, design costumes, memorize lines and perform at the professional venue. Local high school students volunteered.

For Steffens and Blanco, the camp, in its ninth year, is about bringing students out of their shells to embrace the possibilities in theater.

“I see this as a way that enriches self-confidence for everything in life, Steffens said, noting that theater helps students develop public speaking and presentation skills, and teaches them to take ownership of their work.Third-grade student Isaiah Predman plays a pirate

“So many parents say, ‘You did not give me back the same child I brought on Monday,’” she said.

Campers’ final performance included a story of time travel with music and dancing to “Shake Your Groove Thing.” Characters spanned figures from medieval times to space travelers.

Kameron Domeier, a Nickels Intermediate School sixth-grade student, played Knight Sagmore, delivering the line, “Your Highness, I Sagmore, knight of the oval table request an audience.”

He said the camp was a great time.

“I liked dressing up and acting,” he said.

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Van Singel Fine Arts Center

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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