Building Stage Presence

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

For eight years running, the Brookhaven Little Theatre has played host to a children’s summer drama camp.

     According to JoAnna Sproles, the BLT board president, the camp was started to give students something to do during the summer.

     “There wasn’t enough educational opportunities in town during the summer,” Sproles said. “Everything was outside of Lincoln County.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

     So the summer camp was born. Sproles said it’s not something that only kids interested in acting will enjoy.

     “It builds their self-confidence as a person,” she said. “That helps them in every area of their life.”

     During the two-week camp, first- through seventh-graders learn acting techniques like projecting their voices and how to be comfortable acting on a stage.

     “It’s a great learning experience,” Sproles said.

     And sometimes kids find out they really do enjoy acting.

     “I love being on stage,” said 12-year-old Alayna Moak, who has been going to the camp for four years. “I learn something new every year.”

     Moak took her experience at camp and decided to try her hand on the stage year-round. She has been in a few BLT plays, including “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Willy Wonka.”

     The camp ends with a production at the theater and this year the selection was “The Little Mermaid.” Sproles said every camper gets a part, though they’re not forced to do anything they don’t want to do.

     “We have kids who don’t want to say anything,” she said. “We cast them according to their comfort level.”

     Parts for the play are assigned by the third day of camp, and the rest of the time is spent learning lines, stage movements and getting ready for the production. Sproles said they encouraging kids to practice at home with their parents. Costumes also come from home, but she said they don’t expect anything fancy.

     “We try to make this as easy for the parents as we can, and as imaginative for the kids,” she said. “We call this our ‘Little Rascal’s Production.'”

     Sproles said they try to make sure the $175 camp fee is all-inclusive. That cost covers a camp T-shirt, snacks and craft supplies for both weeks. All of the proceeds then go into the Save the Haven fund, where it is used for building renovations.

     “We did about $20,000 worth of work in the spring,” Sproles said. “Now we’re replenishing that fund.”

     The renovations have been ongoing for years, and the building is slowly coming together. This year, they installed new lighting, put in a new speaker system and did some inside painting.

     “We want people to have a quality experience,” Sproles said.

     And if Wednesday’s rehearsals were any indication, the production of “The Little Mermaid” will certainly be that. The show runs Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available at the door starting at 5:30 p.m.