What makes Theatre at St. Michael’s (TASM) different from other drama camps?
Anyone can run a drama camp. The quality of the camp—and the campers’ experiences—depend on a number of important factors including the expertise and experience level of the professional staff, the quality and extent of facilities, and the expectations for excellence in all aspects of the camp experience. In these areas, TASM stands above other theatre camps. Our professional staff are highly trained and practicing theatre professionals with years of experience. Many of these professionals move to Newport from their home theatres to participate in our camp during the summer! Our camp Director, Christina Johnston, is a full-time theatre teacher and professional with over 25 years of experience in acting, teaching, directing, and theatre production. Even our counselors stand out—many are following courses of study in professional theatre, and all have extensive theatre experience. Our facilities are top-notch, including an extensive professional lighting, stage and sound system. Campers also have access to all of the facilities of St. Michael’s Country Day School, including our outdoor pool! At TASM, we do not produce “children’s theatre”; we provide a professional-grade theatre experience to young actors.
How experienced are the faculty?
TASM faculty are hired because of their skill in working with children and experience in professional theater. We are proud to have a very professional faculty. Our past team members have included the Technical Director of the Palace Theatre in New Hampshire, a lighting designer who has designed off-Broadway shows, the Artistic Directors of RITE (Rhode Island Theater Ensemble) and the Spindle City Ballet, as well as many others with significant teaching and directing experience on local, national, and international levels. We bring our combined experience and talent together to benefit the TASM campers. Our professionalism shows up in the quality of our performances.
What is a camp day like?
A camp day varies based on the particular type of production as well as how many days remain until the show. However, there are similarities in the basic structure of each day.
9:00 – 9:15 Campers arrive, socialize, and get ready for the day
9:15 – 9:30 Morning warmup or theatre games, led by the faculty and counselors
9:30 – 11:45 Rehearsal – Depending on the day and the production, the group will break up into smaller groups to work with different faculty (for example: one group with the director, one with the choreographer or musical director, and one group with the tech director), or will stay together as a whole to brainstorm or rehearse.
11:45 – 12:45 Lunch & Break – Campers go outside to eat and relax on our playing fields. We encourage the “kids to be kids” and play Capture the Flag, Frisbee, or just hang out and chat with their friends during this time.
12:45 – 3:00 Rehearsal continues
3:00 – 4:00 Pool Time / Free time / Flexible dismissal – Again, we encourage the kids to stop their rehearsing work and relax, either in the in-ground pool (with a Red Cross certified lifeguard on duty at all times) or on the playgrounds. If they prefer, campers can be picked up at any time during this last hour.
What is included in the tuition I pay?
TASM tries to keep its tuition costs as low as possible, while still providing a high quality theatre experience for the campers. We focus on providing a fun and fulfilling creative process, rehearsal, and performance during each session. To accomplish this, tuition covers all instruction and direction during the camp day, and involvement in the performances. It also helps to defray the costs of building sets, buying costume pieces, and occasionally renting additional lighting or other equipment for the shows. (Now and then a camper will help out by shopping for a particular costume piece, and we will of course reimburse costs if the camper chooses not to keep what they bought.) During the camp day, we have an optional lunch program not included in tuition, but all campers have access to spring water, juice, and periodic snacks provided as treats. Like the lunch program, the TASM t-shirts are an optional add-on for those who would like to purchase them. We have found that most families prefer to have the lunch and t-shirts available as a la carte options, rather than having them built into the base tuition price. Finally, each camper will receive up to 10 complimentary tickets to the performances – to be used for family members – and will also get a DVD copy of the show.
What is the camp lunch program?
TASM teams up with local restaurants to offer lunch to interested campers for an additional fee. Each day a different lunch will be provided, ranging from pizza to sub sandwiches to salads. Campers may sign up for the whole session of lunch, or just a few days, as they prefer. Orders will be confirmed each preceding day, and the fee must be paid up front. The menu and price will be offered to registered campers at the beginning of the summer.
What is the ticket policy for performances?
Tickets are available to the public, family and friends of performers at the door for a a voluntary donation. For audience members who are not immediate family members of the cast & crew, we suggest a minimum donation of $7. We recommend that family consider their camper’s tuition payment as their ticket donation! We do advertise the shows, and they are often very well attended, so arriving early to get good seats is recommended.
Can I sign my child up for a TASM session at the last minute?
Sessions often fill early in the year, sometimes as early as March, and frequently have waiting lists. Consequently, it is not guaranteed that there will be spaces available at the last minute. It is strongly recommended that campers get their applications in early. However, that said, there’s no harm in trying at the last minute!
Is there financial aid?
Yes, there is financial aid, with awards ranging from 10% – 70% of tuition, based on need and the number of applicants. Contact the director for an application. Applications are due on May 1st, and awards will be determined after that point. It is recommended that campers submit a deposit to hold their space prior to hearing about awards, as the sessions often fill before May.
What is the camper to staff ratio?
Sessions include between 20-30 campers (depending on the script and production). We hire 4-5 Counselors (college-aged theatre students), and 3-4 faculty (theater professionals) per session. Therefore the average ratio is approximately 4:1.
Are all campers guaranteed a “big” part?
Theatre always involves parts of different sizes! We cannot guarantee every child a “lead”, but all campers play a major part in the production, with substantial time on stage. Campers who may have fewer words to say onstage will still have lots of stage time, and will be involved in many scenes, dances, and/or songs. They also may choose to become involved in the technical and design aspects of the production. There is always lots going on to get the show ready, and there are many opportunities to engage each camper. Each camper is guaranteed a full theatre experience.
Can my child miss a few days of camp and still be in the production?
Of course we understand that there will be occasional schedule conflicts. If these are brought up ahead of time, they do not usually present a problem. Depending on the number of days missed, the camper’s role may be affected, since rehearsal time is at a premium in a two- or three-week process.
What if my child decides not to stay in camp? Can we get a refund?
Campers love TASM. It is extremely rare that a camper decides to leave. However, in the unlikely event that your child is unable to continue with camp after the session has started, the tuition is non-refundable. This is because once the camp session has begun our costs are non-refundable. We use tuition to pay for things such as salaries, materials for sets and costumes and equipment for the production. Unfortunately, these costs cannot be recouped simply because a child leaves mid-session.
Do campers have to be St. Michael’s School students?
No, campers do not have to attend SMS. While we certainly have some SMS students, we welcome campers from far and wide. We have worked with many local residents, but also campers from California, Florida and Alaska, and as far as France, Spain, Italy, Holland, and St. Barths. It is our pleasure to bring together campers with diverse backgrounds.