Camp Munroe Theater production expands its goals

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | January 03, 2020

Image with caption: The Camp Monroe Theater  Co. participants create and take part in original productions such as 2018's

The Camp Monroe Theater Co. participants create and take part in original productions such as 2018's "Cowboy Camp."

Get ready to explore the ocean floor -- and more -- with the latest Camp Munroe Theater Co. production being held on Jan. 4.

The sixth show for the Munroe-Meyer Institute's theater camp will be called "Tales from the Sea," an underwater adventure that will follow a group of explorers on a submarine journey as they encounter new friends at the bottom of the ocean.

Camp Director Erin Bentzinger, a recreational therapist in the MMI Department of Recreational Therapy, said that at least 25 children and young adults will participate in the three-day camp, which will culminate in the Jan. 4 performance.

A collaboration between the MMI Department of Recreational Therapy and WhyArts, an art organization based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Camp Munroe Theater Co. debuted in January 2017 and now has performances twice each year.

Building off the success of last spring's "Theater 101" show, the Camp Munroe Theater Co. experience now includes more than acting.

"We're incorporating teaching about the technical aspect of theatrical performances," Bentzinger said. "Campers will help set up the lights and work the sound board. Some will design scenery or help with scene changes."

The behind-the-stage aspect proved popular among campers at the "Theater 101" production.

"That was when we started adding to the curriculum," Bentzinger said. "Having the campers pick what area they want to work in -- dancing, acting, painting, creating costumes, whatever they want to do -- having them pick their focus makes it really special.

"The result is an actual theatrical workshop, so our campers are really learning and gaining something from it."

Bentzinger said that if some campers want to embrace the technical elements, they may end up helping to run the sound board or work the lights for the actual performance.

"Of course, they'll all be on stage for the finale to take their bows," she said.

"This is an opportunity to learn about theater, to share their work with family and friends," she said. "But it's also a big self-confidence booster. Kids who didn't have speaking parts in the last production want to have a line in this production. We've had performers who then went on to explore dance classes or other leisure opportunities in the community, as well."

The performance will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center at 202 S. 20th St. in Omaha. It is free and open to the public.

"We are excited to have the Camp Munroe Theater Co. back at the Scottish Rite," said spokesman Micah Evans. "We can't wait to see the latest performance."

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