Yesterday the Session 2 camp festival brought families, friends, and loved ones to the Blackfriars Playhouse for an exciting day of playing.
I snapped this shot during the music call this morning before the house opened up. The campers opened the Festival with their final song from Truth or Dare Shakespeare. Then the audience had a fantastic day of shows spanning Shakespeare’s whole writing career: Two Gents, an early comedy; Julius Caesar, a middle tragedy; and Coriolanus, Shakespeare’s last tragedy.
The day opened with introductions and a welcome from ASC Director of Education Sarah Enloe and Director of Mission Ralph Alan Cohen. The cast of Two Gents took the stage with excitement. In new costumes, the campers performed their hearts out, showing again that spectacle is the least of our concerns here at ASC. The merit, beauty, and breath lives in the text. Special applause to Ella and her fabulous wardrobe, Bridget as Crab, director Chelsea Phillips, and assistant directors Mark and Claire.
I called Coriolanus to take their places at 1:35. After a warm, special welcome speech from director Matt Minnicino, the campers entered Up Center and I never took my eyes off them. Demanding the audience’s attention, our judgment, our investment, the campers delivered a show they can be proud of. Special applause to all the music makers in the show.
The Festival concluded with Julius Caesar. What a commanding show! As I watched, it struck me that director Andrew Blasenak lead the campers to this successful production by employing the ASC methodology and pedagogy. He followed embedded stage directions and let the text lead the playing of Caesar’s assassination; he created Rome using our imaginary forces and since I’m praising his cast and production, I’ll keep going: I’ve not seen a better staging of the storm. Special applause to all the actors who had demanding doubling tracks (another of Shakespeare’s staging conditions this show utilized), and especially to Bobby, who held the largest track, with five characters.
From the Session 2 camp staff:
“Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.” Campers, you are the reason why. We do it for you. Thank you for being such outstanding young people. Your talent, camaraderie, and passion impresses, inspires, and infects us until we are fat with pride and joy. Thank you for your performances at the Festival and our hats are off to you as you matriculate this Fall and continue to grow, to be invested, to lead.
“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” -Romeo and Juliet, II.2 (Of course I end with R&J)
-Kayla Blue, camp intern