Summer 2019

Celebrating Process Over Product

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We love to celebrate at Acting Manitou. We celebrate birthdays and holidays, and we also celebrate each other and the art we make here. We build relationships and community by celebrating the things that make us unique and different from one another, and also by celebrating those things that we have in common.

Celebrating each others’ victories (and failures), even seemingly small ones, is one of the things that makes Acting Manitou such a supportive, encouraging, and generous environment.

I remember my first summer as a camper in 2010. The moment I stepped off the bus I was met with cheers and excitement from the entire staff who were waiting with building anticipation for us to arrive. I knew that they were excited that we were there - I knew they were excited that I was there. That first night we celebrated the start of camp and I knew instantly that this place would be come my home, and these people would become my best friends. In my third summer as a camper, 2012, we celebrated at dinner on audition night when we found out that every single camper sang during the morning auditions. This might seem like a given at a theatre camp, but for many of these campers it was the first time they had ever sung in front of other people. They stepped out of their comfort zone and took a risk; they put themselves on the line, and trusted that we would be there to support them and to catch them if they fell. Celebrating each others’ victories (and failures), even seemingly small ones, is one of the things that makes Acting Manitou such a supportive, encouraging, and generous environment.

I hear over and over again, in the theatre communities I am a part of, phrases like “strong and wrong” and “sin boldly.” This mentality is exactly what we try to instill in our campers at Acting Manitou. We encourage our campers to make big choices in their creative processes, and we urge them to avoid censoring themselves for fear of being “wrong” or having an idea that they don’t think is good enough. Process is as important, if not more important, than product. Process is where we see our campers’ creativity flow and it is where we see them work and play with each other. At Acting Manitou, every idea is valued and considered, and our campers’ voices are present in all of the art we create throughout each session; and our theatre is unlike any other because of the unique perspectives of each and every one of our campers.

Process is as important, if not more important, than product.

Gillian Gold, Master Carpenter & Co-Producer

Gillian Gold, Master Carpenter & Co-Producer

As we move forward into the weekend, I encourage each of you to consider two things: first, where in your own life you find celebration? And second, how do you take risks in your own life? If you don’t take many risks, I challenge you to do one thing that scares you. You may fail, but you also may find that you succeed. Either way, at Acting Manitou we celebrate the risks you take and the mistakes you make, because without them we would not grow as performers and we certainly would not grow as people.

The Joy of Taking Risks

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Auditions can be scary, stressful, and nerve-racking. It is often hard to stand in front of a group of people and put yourself and your abilities on the line. While this holds true for many auditions that our campers have previously experienced in other settings, Acting Manitou auditions shatter the stereotypical ideas of what auditioning means.

Audition day at Acting Manitou is a day full of joy, creativity, play, and risk taking. We consistently hear from campers that here they don’t feel like they are auditioning, but rather that they are getting to be a part of all five shows for a day. Acting Manitou is producing five incredible and diverse shows this session, and while the campers will only be cast in one show, on audition day they have the experience of being in all five shows. They get a chance to work with each director and experience for a moment what it is like to be in their show. At Acting Manitou we do not have the typical high-stress judgmental auditions that are perhaps common at schools and community theaters, but rather our auditions are opportunities for the campers to share their love of theater with their peers, counselors, and directors.

Every camper is so incredibly unique and has a wide array of talents and skillsets, and our auditions are merely a way for the campers to share those individual talents with everyone. For a whole day, our directors get to learn about everything that each camper has to offer. Our directors are so incredibly supportive, and they do everything that they can to ensure that our campers succeed ad enjoy the process. Cheers and clapping are always heard in the audition room from both the campers and directors; our community goes above and beyond on this day to support and inspire others. You’d be hard pressed to find an audition room that is more supportive, encouraging, and fun-filled than the rooms at Acting Manitou.

A beautiful thing happens when campers are in a supportive and safe environment: they show their true selves and they take risks. For some, a risk might be choosing to sing at the morning vocal auditions. For others it might be standing front and center at the dance audition. And for some it might be performing a Shakespeare monologue for the first time. This risk taking, though scary, often leads to the most memorable and impactful moments of the summer. When our campers dare to be brave, they often find that they are able to accomplish things that they didn’t think were possible. When they challenge themselves to step outside of their comfort zone, they discover new things about themselves as performers and individuals. We believe that there are no wrong choices when auditioning, and that any attempted choice is a great one. With this freedom to be silly and bold, our campers soar.

Margie Gilland, Head Counselor

Margie Gilland, Head Counselor

By the end of all of the auditions, the air is buzzing with inspiration, joy, and creativity. New friends and memories have been made, and our community has grown stronger.

New Adventures and New Friends

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"Welcome home!” With months of waiting now in your rearview mirror, you step off the bus and don’t recognize a single face. People all around are smiling and waving, hugging and cheering. You don’t know anyone. Yet.

This week, at summer camps across the country, children of all ages are embarking on new adventures. Here at Acting Manitou, we are grateful to have a head start with all of our new campers: a love of theater. One of our favorite questions—for new and returning campers alike—is “what shows did you do this year?” The shared experience of working on a show allows our new campers to slip seamlessly into our community, often without realizing it. And for our campers who are ready to jump into theater for the first time in beautiful Oakland, Maine, the collaborative nature of theater provides a warm and welcoming world to step into.

While making friends can be the most daunting task facing a new camper, the opportunities to do so come early and often. From our buddies who we check in with throughout audition day to our first lunch where we eat together with our bunks, even the shyest camper is welcomed into their bunk/class/cast in no time at all. And with so many different activities offered at AM, each camper is grouped with a wide variety of other campers, not just by bunk or age.

Spencer Lutvak, Business Manager and Teaching Artist

Spencer Lutvak, Business Manager and Teaching Artist

Each of us has lived through being a newcomer. “Will I fit in?” “Will people like me?” These questions are expected and natural when you find yourself in a new place, no matter how excited you are to be there. How could this place possibly live up to your expectations? At Acting Manitou, we believe the answer lies in community. The people—campers and staff alike—are what make this place unique. In just three short weeks, that first step off the bus will feel like a lifetime ago. And next year you’ll be welcoming a new camper home.