students perform a scene from annie jr

July 25, 2023

LANCASTER, Texas -- Young, aspiring actors sing, dance, develop their stage presence, and recite poetry during the first-ever theater camp in Lancaster ISD. The Lancaster Middle School Tiger Theatre Production Company opened the camp to all sixth through 12th-grade students in the district, giving students a chance to experience the excitement of performing live theater.

The Lancaster Middle School Director of Technical Theater Arts, Tarvaris Blair, says the camp's focus is exposure to the arts while helping the students develop confidence and leadership skills. Blair says he and Ashley Brown, LMS Director of Theater Arts, were inspired to organize the camp to strengthen the theater program and showcase different styles of theater productions to students. 

"This is the first theater camp the district has ever had, so we're trying to bring something new and exciting," said Blair. "Typically, our students are used to performing Greek plays. By introducing them to musical theater, they can further expand their acting skills and even discover talents they never knew they had. Theater is just one aspect of fine arts. We want to show them how fulfilling participating in the arts can be."

Brown and Blair say they can give the students more one-on-one time during the camp and advise them on ways to hone their craft. 

During the two-week camp, the young actors workshopped scenes from the musical, "Annie Jr." and practiced writing original poems. They've been working on acting, including finding the motivation for their characters' actions and line memorization. They've also practiced singing, choreography, blocking, and active listening. 

Barack and Michelle Obama 9th Grade Campus student Ke'Lari Givens says she was interested in attending the camp because she wants to be an actress one day.

"Camp has been a challenge, but it's been fun," said Givens. "I've stepped out of my comfort zone and grown in just a short time. I find that memorizing my lines has been the biggest improvement. Ms. Brown and Mr. Blair have made the camp fun and engaging, and I look forward to returning next year."

Aaren Stepney, also a ninth-grader, expressed that his interest in theater is rooted in his love for portraying various characters and expressing his emotions through them.

"Attending the camp has been a fantastic opportunity to enhance my acting and singing abilities," said Stepney. "I will be portraying the character of Mr. Hannigan, which has allowed me to examine various technical aspects of theater, such as projection and diction. Overall, it has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience."

The young performers will put their talents on display during a scene showcase at the end of camp. Blair says the LMS Theatre Company will perform the whole show during the winter fine arts performance series later this school year.

Through the camp, students have gained more confidence and teamwork skills and have found another outlet for creative expression. The scene showcase will highlight the talented students of Lancaster ISD and give the community a sneak peek of what to expect from the theater program this year. 

Theater camp students performed their scenes at Lancaster Middle School on Thursday, July 20.