The Four Ghostlights of Acting Manitou

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The exact origins of the ghostlight is murky, although there are some popular theories. Theater scholar James Fisher writes in Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings that the ghost light “comes from the days of gas-lit theatres and refers to dimly lit gaslights used to relieve pressure on gas valves”. In another tome The A to Z of American Theater: Modernism he relates a popular legend that a burglar once snuck into a Broadway theater, fell from the darkened stage, broke his leg, and then sued the theater. And of course there is the pervasive belief that the light will either ward off ghosts or distract them. Whatever the origin, the ghostlight has become a staple at every darkened theater and a symbol of light in the darkness worldwide

At Acting Manitou we have chosen to adopt the image of the ghostlight, a beacon in the dark, as the cornerstone of our core values that we challenge each camper and staff member to return to during the summer and throughout the year. These four values are an adaptation of what we called The Camper’s Job for many years and anchor each decision we make from show selection to evening activities. This summer we will be looking daily at ways in which we each embody these four ghostlights and can encourage them to shine year round.

2019 Season!

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We are so excited to share our 2019 Season with you all! Read a little about our shows below!

2019 Season: First Show Announcement!

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Steve, Spencer and Zack took to the virtual airwaves last night to announce the first three shows of our 2019 summer! At Acting Manitou, we work diligently each year to program a diverse and exciting group of shows for each session. This year in particular, and with the help of our amazing team of Artistic Staff, we are working to showcase our camper community, reflect stories that they want to tell, and provide an opportunity for non-traditional theater making even within more traditional titles.

While no sessions or directors have been announced, these titles alone are sure getting us excited about the summer ahead. And, we’ve only just begun! More show and program announcements are coming in the next couple of months so register today and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on a single thing!

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ABBA's hits tell the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her father, set on a lovely and sunny Greek island. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

The story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs, propelled by the unmistakable originality of Acting Manitou’s creative staff and talented campers, is sure to leave everyone with a summer memory they won’t forget!


The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed.

The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in the history of London's West End but you can be a part of our first time performing the play at Acting Manitou by joining us in 2019!


Matilda is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, Matilda revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life. What better place than Acting Manitou to tell the story of how being an outsider, a rebel, can be used to your, and the world at large’s, advantage.

Our Winter Camp Fair Schedule!


Acting Manitou is hitting the road this winter to spread the JOY and COMMUNITY to potential campers and families.

If you are currently interested in learning more about Acting Manitou, a camp fair provides a great chance to meet a director and ask questions about our programs, staff and season.

If you are an alum or current camper and are in the area, come by and say hello! We’d love to see you!

Acton Camp Fair
Acton, MA
January 24th, 2019
McCarthy Towne School

Tips on Trips Camp Fair
Los Angeles, CA
February 3rd, 2019
Skirball Cultural Center

Solebury Summer Programs Fair
New Hope, PA
January 27th, 2019
Solebury School

Make Lifelong Friends...Then Make Theater!

Hi Acting Manitou Family!

Emma L., Amara B. and Ella W. this past summer!

Emma L., Amara B. and Ella W. this past summer!

I’m writing to you all in a spare moment between work notes and dry tech of my second show this week to tell you about a Manitou Fam production that just closed last night. For the last few weeks, I’ve had the joy of lighting designing 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee, music directed (for the second time this year) by Griffin Strout!

At elective presentations second session, Chris invited us all to think about moments we noticed from one another’s pieces. Those moments, he said, can inspire works of their own. Theater is a million tiny acts of theft. I’d like to share some moments I noticed during Spelling Bee tech and some moments of camp they bring back for me.

So much love to all of you!

Emma Levine (AM bunk counselor and alum)

Scroll through the photos below using the arrows on the upper right corner.