Christmas Camp In Summer

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Laurence Olivier, the 20th century actorperhaps most renowned for his theater performances, once said, “Ibelieve that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village,a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward andprobable culture.”

    Here in Brookhaven, Jana Fulda Russell works to make sure that thiscommunity in Mississippi certainly has a great theater.

    Russell is a director at Brookhaven Little Theatre located indowntown. Every summer since 2005, she and others at the theaterhave organized a summer drama camp for first- throughseventh-graders.

    “We started out the program to serve as a fundraiser for thebuilding,” Russell said.

    Russell said back then they had an inspector come examine the roof,and he reported that it needed some serious work.

    “We had to do something or lose the building,” Russell said. “So wedecided to put together this drama camp.”

    The theater uses the funds it raises during the camp and money itreceives from grants to give some much-needed renovations to thebuilding.

    Russell explained money has been used to repair the roof, revampthe marquee, install air conditioning and fix plumbing problemsamong other maintenance needs.

    “Next we’re going to do work on the lobby and expand therestrooms,” Russell said. “We want to make this theater a shiningjewel for downtown Brookhaven.”

    Other than raise funds to help improve the building and itsfacilities, the camp offers opportunities for interested childrento express their creativity.

    “There is a lot of talent in this area,” Russell said.

    She said people not only in the city and surrounding counties come,but also from as far away as Jackson and parts of Louisiana.

    “I think it’s a good opportunity for kids to do something thatnormally would only be offered in bigger cities,” Russell said.

    The program is designed to help pique the younger children’sinterest in theater, in hopes that it will carry over when they getolder and can join older classes, Russell said.

    “Ideally, this program will help feed the younger ones into theteen program, and then the teens will feed into the adult program,”Russell said.

    This summer’s production is “Christmas in July,” themed with thechildren putting together a play called “It’s A Snow WhiteChristmas.”

    Russell explained the children, with the help of camp counselors,not only learn their lines and songs, but they also make thecostumes and props, and build and paint the stage sets.

    “They do everything in two weeks that the adults do in six,”Russell said.

    The camp started Monday and runs through July 22.

    There will be two performances of the play: one on July 21 at 7p.m. and the other on July 22 at the same time. Tickets are $5 atthe door.