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Setting Stage For Life

Kids can be dramatic.

With the Brookhaven Little Theatre’s Summer Drama Camp, kids canbe good at being dramatic, too.

For the last week, about 40 local children of all ages havegathered at the Haven Theater to learn the ups and downs of thestage. At the end of this week, they will have put together aproduction that will entertain audiences of all ages.

The production of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” scheduled forThursday and Friday, will be unique to BLT. Director Jana Russellhas tweaked the story just a little to fit the needs of her groupof young actors and actresses between first and seventh grades.

“These plays always have opportunities for a lot of characters,”she said. “Some want a lot of lines, and some don’t want to sayanything. Some just want to be policemen or flower girls.”

The story will still be the one that Hans Christian Andersontold, only the emperor won’t be parading around in his birthdaysuit, Russell said.

“Instead he’ll be wearing these funny pajamas,” she said.

And every child will have the chance to be a part of the play inone way or another – in whatever capacity they might want toparticipate.

“Kids pretend all the time, and whether you’re new to drama orhave been here at drama camp for the last several years, the basicinstinct to pretend takes over,” Russell said.

But drama camp is not just about helping children be betterperformers. It is also about trying to provide for futuregenerations of children performers.

The proceeds from the camp go to the continue upgrades, updatesand renovations on the Haven. Save the Haven Committee ChairwomanJoAnna Sproles said in recent years the funds have helped redo theroof and the front of the building, but there is still a long wayto go.

“Now we have the inside to do, and the next step is the lobby,”she said.

Some walls will be knocked out, Sproles said, and the lobby sizewill double. The bathrooms and concession area will also be a partof the next step.

In addition to the betterment of future generations of artisansand the facility they’ll perform in, the camp also works on someintangible things, Sproles said.

“This is a good camp for children who are into performingbecause they get to act, but it’s also good for kids who aren’tinterested in performing because they learn about public speakingand presentation skills,” she said. “Either type of child needsthis experience for when they’re out of school and in theworkforce. It’s not just teaching theater, it’s teaching lifelessons.”

Meanwhile, the public can enjoy the fruit of the labors of thesetwo weeks, Russell and Sproles said. The play will be performedThursday and Friday, July 22 and 23, at 7 p.m. The doors will openat 6 p.m., they said, and tickets are $5 per person. Patrons withseason tickets for the 2009-10 season may use them foradmission.

“This is a great opportunity to bring your kids and your familyout and see a true children’s play,” said Sproles.