Local students broaden horizons at Wyoming camp for the arts
When Christine Knable learned she was chosen to receive a scholarship to a summer arts camp, she had some experience in theater. But after attending the Bauen Art Camp in Wyoming, her ideas about theater changed - dramatically.
Knable was awarded her scholarship to attend the camp through a competition conducted by the Hancock Arts Council.
Before attending the Bauen camp, Knable, a junior at Berkeley Springs High School, had participated in plays that had been written by others.
At the camp though, Knable had the opportunity to see first-hand how theater is written and scored and to join with fellow students in writing a play.
"I was really surprised. I was so used to doing plays that have already been written," said Knable. "It was actually really free flowing and it helped me a lot to understand what theater is all about."
Relevance in art
As a teenager, Knable appreciated that the camp's theater program was geared towards the issues facing her age group.
Through a series of tableaux vivants – literally, "living scenes" – Knable and other students explored ways today's teens can cope with issues confronting them, such as how to say no and facing one's fears.
Knable and her fellow young artists also used this unique art form, in which participants pose in costume without moving, to illustrate issues, such as war, that are relevant in the world today.
Addressing teen issues
Techniques and approaches to more traditional theater were also a major part of the camp's curriculum, which allowed Knable her first opportunity to write for musical theater.
Knable participated in various ways, along with other students, in creating a musical about taking risks and changing to become a better person.
With her strong interest in writing, one of Knable's main contributions to the theatrical piece was writing an original poem that was later set to music, titled "The Looking Glass,"
Knable's poem had as its theme the sense of "being overwhelmed" that some teens feel under pressure.
Using a stage area developed within their art room, the students delivered the musical, which also included a 12-foot puppet. All of the writing for the musical was done by the students themselves.
Knable said that she learned a lot from both the tableaux vivants and from the musical.
"We learned not only how to change ourselves," said Knable, "but to help change things that are going in the world."
Variety and challenge
Each day of the camp was begun with a morning movement session, which involved African Dance, Tai Chi or Salsa, Knable said.
Students of the camp also took hikes sometimes in temperatures of greater than 100 degrees.
Knable said she found the scenery in surrounding Sheridan County, Wyoming, lovely to look at. "One day, we went on an all day hike and it was really pretty," said Knable.
Fortunately, Knable and the other campers were able to cool off by dipping into some of the mountain springs found in the rugged terrain near the camp.
Musical talent showcased
Among her other encounters with various forms of art, Knable said she also participated in a talent show and fashioned a set of quad drums from milk jugs.
For the talent show, Knable – who likes singing – sang a song from the Broadway musical "Rent" called "Take Me or Leave Me."
A future in theater
Though Knable's main interest in the area of art is theater, she said she likes to write. Currently, Knable is considering a major in the performing arts and a minor in journalism when she attends college. "I enjoy writing and I like writing for theater," said Knable.
After graduating from high school, Knable said she plans on attending Shepherd University to continue her studies. "By the time I graduate, they are supposed to have an arts program," said Knable.
Knable's mother, Lisa Poland, believes the camp will also help Knable as she completes her college applications. "It was the experience of a lifetime for her," said Poland.
Hopes of attending next year
After meeting many new friends among the other campers – some of whom came from such locations as New York, Chicago, Montana, and New Mexico – Knable said she had a difficult time leaving.
According to Knable, her stay at the art camp was a great success and she would like to do it again.
"I thought it was really fun and I hope that I get to do it next year," said Knable, who hopes to find a sponsor from Berkeley Springs who can help her attend next year's camp.