community

A Full Technicolor Shock

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On one of the last nights of camp every summer, we have a campfire in the woods. We sit as a community and enjoy the fire, the natural world around us, each other’s company for a little while, and then each CIT (our oldest campers) speaks for a few minutes about whatever they’d like. This sometimes takes the form of advice, or a memory, but most often it’s a thank-you to camp. My second year as a camper, a CIT spoke about how at camp, we can feel like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Kansas suddenly becomes Oz, the sepia-toned “real world” becoming a Technicolor fantasy. She shared her fear of going back to New Jersey after camp, having to retrace Dorothy’s journey back to black and white. But, she said, it is our responsibility to carry that rainbow way of seeing things back home with us: it’s no good having an Oz if it’s only in the summers, only for some of us.

I think everyone who comes to camp must have some version of that feeling: the arrival, the theater games on the lawn, the way we’re all encouraged to be our truest, most authentic selves — not just the selves we might default to, but the heightened, imagined, aspirational, mutable versions of ourselves that fill our dream worlds. At camp we get to be rock stars, heroes, champions, celebrated for being exactly who we are — and that’s before we even consider the shows, where we might be villains, pirates, queens, gods, witches, or (most frightening of all) teenagers exactly like us. Full Technicolor, shocking every time the door of that house opens and we walk with Toto into a field of wildflowers.

Zack Elkind, Director

Zack Elkind, Director

But as that CIT reminded me at the campfire, we don’t have to leave that way of seeing the world behind when we leave camp in July or August. Camp isn’t a location, a collection of buildings — and it isn’t really even a group of people, since we all grow up and eventually stop coming back to camp. I think it’s a way of seeing the world, a certain tilt of the head when looking at things. A willingness to accept everyone for who they are; leading with curiosity, not prescriptiveness; a love of theater and the power it has to activate the best in all of us. These are things we learn at camp, and return to camp to keep honing. But that way of seeing the world — in the full color it is, not the sepia it sometimes appears to be — can come home with us too, and after a summer at camp, you can see all year long in vibrant color.

On the Importance of Community

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On a little pocket of land in semi-rural Maine, there lies a haven of artistic and self expression. A place where people from all walks of life can gather to make theatre, commune with nature, and make lifelong friends. Year after year, campers and staff return to Acting Manitou because of the community that has been built on this little pocket of land. A community that is supportive and welcoming, and empathetic and caring. A community that gives everybody the space to be vulnerable and creative and artistic and unique.

A few nights ago we had our first round of elective presentations, at the end of which we gathered in a circle to share something we were grateful for that night. Most spoke of their gratitude for this community that allows them to try something new, take a risk, share a part of themselves they might have otherwise been too afraid to. We sat in what felt like an unbreakable circle of shared attitudes, interests, and goals, a circle that mirrored the one our camp is constructed on.

Gillian Gold,  Co-Producer

Gillian Gold,
Co-Producer

This is my ninth summer at Acting Manitou, my fifth as a staff member, and every year when I contemplate whether or not I will return for the next summer, I consider who I would be without this community. Who would I be without the place that taught me how to be an artist. Who would I be without the people who taught me how to be a friend. And who would I be without the community that has always given me the space to be exactly who I am. The truth is, I don’t know. I return year after year to make theatre in Maine and commune with nature. And I return year after year to be in this place with my lifelong friends, some of whom I met nearly 10 years ago, and some of whom I just met, but all of whom have made me a better person and have filled my life with incredible joy and love.