PITTSBURG — Memorial Auditorium has seen its share of theatre workshops. However, the one going on right now is unique. It’s called the “Pittsburg High School Just Off Broadway Theatre Camp,” and is under the direction of PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw.
According to Shaw, the camp is unique for the area because it gives children who might have been too old or too young for other theatre camps an opportunity to practice their skills and prepare for more advanced theatre in high school or at the collegiate level.
“We started this camp three years ago because I felt there was a gap for this age group, and it’s worked out very well,” Shaw said.
The camp is two weeks long and features students from grades six through 10. They will be performing Fame The Musical Jr., a remake of the popular Fame movie that was produced in 1980 and showcased theatre students trying to find their way in the world — a theme Shaw said makes sense for theatre students in the area, some of which are considering careers in the performing arts.
Shaw said the theatre camp also offers students from around southeast Kansas a unique opportunity to mingle with their peers from other schools.
“It is the most important part of the experience is the opportunity to work with fellow performers from all over the area,” he said. “We have students from Pittsburg, Colgan, St. Paul, all over the southeast Kansas area.
“This allows like-minded kids to come together and form a bond that we’ve seen continue after the camp is over.”
Shaw said that, while this age group is younger than he usually teaches, it doesn’t affect their ability to put on a good performance.
“My philosophy has always been that age has nothing to do with good work,” he said. “We don’t let age hold kids back and we don’t allow it be an excuse for not investing in what were creating.”
In fact Shaw said he thinks the program allows participants to transcend their age and be on more equal footing with other children.
“There is not a lot that a 5th grader and a 10th grader can do on an equal basis, but theatre is, so it’s a great experience for them,” Shaw said.
Shaw will be depending on the ability of the different age groups to work together for this performance, as he has over a dozen juniors and seniors from his PHS theatre students helping out.
He said his older students particularly like the workshop because they usually are busy with their roles on stage and don’t get the opportunity to do more backstage work.
“They really enjoy it because they are able to learn more skills without having to give up performing in a school production,” he said.
One of those students will be his daughter, junior McKenna Shaw. She will be choreographing the performance and plans to pursue theatre as a career.
“She’s a very hard worker,” Shaw said. “I think that this will allow her an opportunity to gain some confidence in and understanding of the process of being in charge of the movement of a performance.”
According to Shaw the workshop would not be possible without the support of the Memorial Auditorium staff who help instruct the students and provide the venue.
“We really appreciate the staff at Memorial Auditorium, they assist us and provide technical training to the students,” he said. “Their support is very important to this program.”
The children will be showing off what they have learned at a performance at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 2:00 p.m with doors opening at 1:30 August 26th.
The tickets are general admission and will be available at the door for $5. The proceeds from the theatre camp benefit the PHS Theatre Department upcoming performance season.