THE JUNGLE OF THE JUNGLE BOOK by Thomas Putnam
We typically offer our Winter Theatre Arts Camps in January and early February. I typically don't direct the first mainstage production of the year so that I can devote the time and energy needed for the camps. This year we didn't offer our camps (one in Blossburg and one in Elkland) due to...well, to what we are blaming everything on these past two years.
About five weeks ago, we spoke with NTSD about offering the camp sometime in March. YES, was the response. I was hesitant due to being in full rehearsals for INTO THE BREECHES and beginning rehearsals for THE MAY QUEEN and helping to work on the MLK concert and two other small concerts the HG Youth Choir was doing. But...YES...let's do it for the kids.
First, registration/auditions in all three NTSD elementary schools. There was a mix-up with the information sheets being delivered to every child in grades 4-10 and the registration forms. Fewer kids showed up. (Sometimes we have 70 or 80 kids.) We ended up with 39.
Monday rehearsal. Assigned roles, read through the script. Sang some of the songs. Everyone catches on to THE BARE NECESSITIES. It's catchy. Learn your lines. Stay healthy. See you Wednesday. (We skip Tuesdays so I can have rehearsals with the HG Children's Choir.)
Wednesday arrives and it's a very snowy day. School is let out early; cancel the camp. See you Thursday. Thank goodness for Thursday; but the weather report is really snowy for Saturday, so let's have a longer rehearsal on Friday. Thank goodness there is a half day on Friday so we rehearsed for a bit over three hours. See you Monday.
I come down with whopping cold on Friday night and am in bed all weekend. Monday comes and I know I can't conduct the camp. Thank goodness for Janelle Davis who is working with us again this year. She'll take the camp. All goes well. See you Wednesday.
Thank goodness, I'm better. Good rehearsal, but we've realized we don't have enough elephant costumes and what about those vultures and writing up the curtain speech, and what about those few kids who weren't present? Thank goodness Alan Weed could stay late to help me create at least a feel for a jungle. (Did I mention that the auditorium is now being used as a classroom, so there is lots of equipment on and off the stage?)
Thursday. Where did the kids get all their energy? The leads all nail their lines and take direction really, really well. Real troupers. Some of the jungle chorus don't seem to be singing. Drill some of the words. Work out the bows. Run the whole thing two times? Or did we just run it once and work on specifics. Clarify that the performance times are at 7:00 on Friday and Saturday. Make sure you wash your camp tee shirts. All your costume in your box? Any questions. See you Friday night for the performance.
A few prop things to fix on Friday. Get the word out to the public that 30+ kids have devoted a lot of energy and love into creating something very cool; the public really should come out and affirm these kids.
I realize that we didn't have behavioral issues this year. Some of the kids have been with camps for a few years. (One girl who is in 10th grade has been with us since third grade, I think.) Others are brand new and barely talk above a whisper. These kids have been great to work with. They are all real troupers.
Won't you take the time to encourage these kids by checking our their creation? It's been a jungle of a process, but a glorious one.