Fifteen-year-old Zac Anderson pulled off quite a feat this summer when he decided to produce and direct a theatre camp for twenty-six 4th-9th graders.
“When I was younger I had participated in other summer theatre camps and that's kind of what sparked my interest into the theatre world,” shares Anderson.
He wanted to stretch his skills a bit as well as give other students the type of experience that fueled his own love for theatre, and did so by founding “Curtain Up Theatre Camp.”
From the Ground Up
What is unique about this experience is that Anderson didn’t just “help” put on the camp...he planned it from the ground up. “I wanted to manage the financials, learn how to apply for licensing rights, put it all together,” he says.
He then invited five other MA students with theatre experience to join him:
- Technical Director - Timo Diep
- Costumes/Hair/Makeup - McKenzie Thompson
- Management Intern - Leah Wasson
- Backstage Help - Elsie Craig
- Backstage Help - Shelby Thompson
Anderson himself held the role of Director/Choreographer. Together the team made Anderson’s dream a reality, along with the help of his piano teacher, Julie Lund. Lund helped with the music side of the camp, and it’s notable to mention that she has referred to herself as the camp’s “token adult.”
Elsie Craig preparing a performer's makeup.
The Foundations that Made it Possible
How did it even occur to this soon-to-be-junior that he might just have what it takes to pull something like this off?
After a 5th grade guest appearance in the Upper School’s production of Seussical the Musical, Anderson dove into theatre both at MA and in the local community, including a camp that was similar to the one he founded this summer.
Although he’s been involved in performance on many levels at MA, Anderson discovered his love for directing when he and classmate Jo Brown co-directed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for the Student Showcase this year.
Zac performing in this year's Madrigal Revue. The Madrigal Singers is just one of the many performing outlets Zac has connected with at MA.
“I had this idea of doing a summer camp in the back of my mind for a while now and I wanted to actually do it,” he says.
While much of this summer’s production was the result of hard work and solid collaboration, Anderson shares that his teachers at MA helped build the foundation he needed to step out into this venture:
“Minnehaha's theatre department is blessed to have some of the most amazing people there are; Mr. Freeman is so talented and just has such a gift, Ms. Lutgen [is] probably the best choir director I know. She actually was willing to come in and sub one day since our music director couldn't be there one day, and she just brought so much to the table, even her warm-ups are just on a whole other level!”
Anderson also mentioned the inspiration of Ms. Hallberg’s work with the orchestra, Mr. Stromberg’s sets, and Shannon Elliott’s technical direction.
“All of these amazing people have taught me so much in ways that I can't describe, when you see something of such high caliber in a high school setting, it just makes you feel so proud. And so I wanted to keep this camp to that high standard, I didn't want to leave out anything.”
Challenges and Rewards
That’s not to say the process was without challenges. Anderson says that while in the past casting hasn’t been difficult for him, this time he found it to be the harder part of the experience.
“It was tricky because I didn't know any of the kids beforehand, and so it made it twice as hard to make sure I [found] a good fit for everyone.” He also came head to head with the exhaustion of managing the many day-to-day details of running a camp, which he hadn’t fully anticipated.
In spite of feeling pretty wiped out by the end of the experience, Anderson shares that it was worth it.
“The most rewarding part of this process was the bond that I formed with these kids...being able to give kids the opportunity to experience and participate in theatre is so fulfilling...It was also rewarding to see the final product, the show, at the end. All of their hard work, learning lines, rehearsing choreography, it really paid off, and it was a wonderful show. I am so proud of each and every one of these kids.”