Virtual Plan 2020

Summer 2020 — Going Virtual!

Programmatic Changes due to COVID-19
summer drama camp for elementary school
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Still creating bold theatre with brilliant kids

Going forward with safety & joy!

We have crafted a plan that will be as fun, engaging, challenging and rewarding as you have come to expect from Traveling Players.

Our students will learn about classical theatre, acting techniques for the stage and the camera, and filmmaking, too.

In pretty much every other way! Campers will still tackle classical language, and still perform in fully costumed and designed shows. (Really – they will get a digital set and costumes dropped off at your door. Spray it with Lysol and bring it inside!) They will perform in a show! We discovered during our Spring Break Acting Intensives that our students were happiest and most successful when they did complicated work.

Investing in community time. Our actors will still get ample opportunity to connect with their peers and make new friends. We’ll still have weekly campfire parties where the whole camp will gather to play games (Revels!), learn skills (like juggling), compete for prizes for your “House” (a la Harry Potter – complete with a sorting jester hat!) and just have fun.

Our Alums are in charge of the fun! Our talented staff includes a bunch of our alums, who know exactly what makes the Traveling Players summer experience so memorable. They are determined to make this summer just as treasured – adapting some traditions to this format and inventing new events — for the times when we’re not in rehearsal.

When your child goes to camp or takes a class with Traveling Players you join a family! The directors and teachers care deeply about the students, their acting and their lives.

— Parent

Theatre & Film – United! Instead of getting on the purple bus and heading to Madeira for a day of in-person rehearsals, campers will gather in our Zoom-room for digital rehearsals and filming. Our actors will still be rehearsing a play, complete with costumes, sets, and props. The final performances will be livestreamed — and will include re-recorded film clips that the actors created beforehand. We have film professionals working us to editing and weave the whole show together.

TPE goes to the Big Screen! Anyone can to see their performances – without taking a plane! – because it will be a link that you livestream on your computer or TV. Relatives, friends and fans can all join!

Doing our research. Knowing that digital camp might be in our future, we starting researching ways to teach and perform theatre digitally in March. We quickly retooled our in-person Spring Break Acting Intensive and offered 3 digital camps, testing out different age-appropriate curricula with our lead summer faculty. Teaching artists debriefed daily with Artistic Director Jeanne Harrison and tweaked the program. We invested in learning as much as we could. Since then we have offered a host of shorter digital classes and events. Here’s some of what we learned:

  • Working on a play keeps kids connected. Our greatest successes happened when our students were all working on the same project. Working on a single play gives students a shared challenge. Just like when we’re in person, our students succeed when they work together.
  • Keep it kinesthetic! Traveling Players has always trained young artists to use their whole bodies, and going digital will not change that. Digital classes are more effective and more fun when they are physical. Actors are expected to create space where they can participate in full body activity – after all, we still need to see a shipwreck in The Tempest! That can’t happen if the actors are just on a boring conference call.
  • Dedicated community time is key to success. Digital camp often moves much more quickly than in person camp because transitions are faster and students aren’t able to have side conversations. But side conversations are how real friendships are built! If students can’t build those relationships by chatting while they set up a tent or carry a set piece, then they need other time to do it. We found that a mixture of longer breaks (10 minutes minimum), non-theatre games, and leaving the Zoom-room open over lunch allowed our students to build friendships just like they would if they were in person!
  • Several rehearsal blocks throughout the day work better. There has been a lot written about Zoom-fatigue; maybe you have experienced it yourself? We found that even with a highly physical class, students had the most fun, and were most successful when they worked in several 2 – 2.5 hour-long blocks throughout the day, with breaks in between to get off the computer and give their brains and eyes a rest from screens.
  • Explore new possibilities. From design to film to puppetry, there are lots of new and exciting opportunities that are perfect for digital camp!

We’ve been TEACHING on Zoom. We have a handle on the strengths and pitfalls of online educational theatre. We have been comparing notes with public and private school teachers. We know what to do, and what NOT to do.

We’ve been LEARNING digitally. Many of our assistant directors are theatre majors in college — who spent much of this past semester taking theatre classes online. They know firsthand what’s effective and fun.

We’re researching digital performance, too. We have watched a LOT of digital shows and are extracting the best techniques to impart with our students this summer!

Yes, there is, and it is reflected on the individual ensemble pages.

You might expect there to be a big difference in cost. Surely this has got to be cheaper! It is. But not a ton cheaper.

The reality is that parents only pay 70% of the cost of a Traveling Players summer. Then, as a nonprofit, we apply for grants to make up the remainder. This year, understandably, some of our funders are redirecting their money to the front lines of the pandemic.

Instead of allowing this summer to be marked by what is missing (purple buses), we are investing in what is possible – making this the best summer experience for your child.  We have chosen an online platform that allows us to limit who is participating.  We have implemented procedures to avoid technical difficulties, and efficiently deal with them when they happen (Zoomologists!).  We are hiring film experts and buying new theatrical technology.  We will deliver a costume and props to your door!  We are doing everything we can to create a fun, vibrant, creative summer of growth for your child.

Our staff is our biggest cost – the compassionate, encouraging, fun, and brilliantly talented people who will nurture your child all day long. We want each camper to feel heard, seen, invested in, and celebrated, which is why our faculty to student ratio is an unparalleled 1:4. We have a track record of creating transformative summers for each performer – growing on stage and off. That’s not changing this summer.

What if I already paid for this summer? You will get a refund of the difference this July.  Maybe faster, if we can do it.  It’s just a lot of little changes for a small nonprofit.  We are working as quickly as we can.

 

More about what your tuition pays for at Traveling Players >>>

Right at the break on the first day, she came bounding down the stairs, saying how much fun she was having.  “Of course I’d rather be there in person, but this is a lot of fun.”  At lunch time when I thought she’d join us to tell us about her day, she requested that she take her lunch back to her computer because everyone in class was going to eat lunch together, just like they do for onsite camps.  The morning of day 2, when I woke her up, the first thing she said was, “I don’t want it to ever end.”  I thought she meant the dream I woke her from.  Nope, she explained, she never wanted camp to end.  The camp definitely put a spring back in her step.

⁠— Spring Break Acting Intensive Parent

I was surprised at how physical it was! She ran to grab the yoga mat and exclaimed “We’re doing warm-ups!”

⁠— Spring Break Acting Intensive Parent

 

What others are saying about Traveling Players >>>

Ensembles are founded on the principles of inclusion, diversity, and equality. Because the ensemble is core to everything we do at Traveling Players, these principles are reflected in every part of our community, artistry, and mission.

  • Over 680 performances, 50% donated
  • 21% of all participants in 2019 were students of color
  • Awarded 228 scholarships totaling more than $223,093

Read more >>>

Traveling Players surrounds our students with excellent faculty – and a bunch of them! We have always maintained an enviable 1:4 faculty to student ratio. This summer is no different. Every student will get the personalized attention they deserve.

With 3 directors working with just 12 students, it’s like a private lesson with a bunch of friends. You’ll start out in the main Zoom-room to bond and warm-up, then divide into smaller groups (using break-out rooms) to rehearse different scenes. At Traveling Players, we bring out the best in every student.

  • Selected as 1 of 25 model Summer Schools in the Arts by the NEA
  • Over 680 performances, 50% donated
  • Served over 5,600 campers
  • Two TPE-commissioned mythology plays by Judith Walsh White have been professionally published, listing TPE campers as the Original Cast
  • Ranked #1 arts camp in the nation by CampEasy! in 2015
  • Named Readers’ Pick Summer Camp by Northern Virginia Magazine, 2016-20
  • Featured in 2015-16 and 2019-20 Catalogue for Philanthropy, “featuring the area’s best, vetted, community-based charities for high-impact local giving”

Read more >>>

We’re Zoomologists! We’ll help you set up the Tech for your Home Studio!

Pre-camp Tech Set-up Meeting: A week or two before you start camp, a director from your child’s ensemble will Zoom with you and help set up your Home Studio. This will be your Zoomologist! We’ll make sure that your actor is comfortable logging in and out of Zoom and know about all the special buttons.

Your computer: Every camper will need their own desktop, laptop or tablet with Zoom capability. You could set up your phone as an additional device, but you want a larger screen. If you ever have a technical issue during camp, your Zoomologist will be your personal point of contact.

Your Studio: Your Studio should be large enough to move around in and free from the normal traffic of your household. You should be able to make sounds and move around without feeling self-conscious or disturbing others at home. You can have an outside Studio, if the internet is stable enough. We’ll go over lighting, sound mitigation and options that will work for the whole family.

Film Gadgets: We are investing in a couple SIMPLE pieces of film technology that can be passed around between ensemble members – keep that can of Lysol by the door! These simple gadgets will make the performance much better, and are very intuitive to use.

Do you have a friend who you’ve always wanted to bring to camp, but they live too far away? What about a cousin? This might be the perfect summer for them to join in on the Traveling Players fun! Because we’re bringing you a fully immersive digital camp, you can join from absolutely anywhere in the world!

Plus — every new person who enrolls on your recommendation — for an audition or a camp — gets you a rebate on your summer!

Yes, and we will be again, just as soon as we can do it safely. Our mission to bring great theatre into the great outdoors never felt more vital. Our commitment to creative kids, an inclusive community, fabulous storytelling and the great outdoors feels incredibly poignant.

Our summer home, The Madeira School, has closed its campus. We contacted other schools and properties, all of which were closed. We fought this hard!

Adapt and Thrive. Our digital plan makes lemonade out of this situation. It will still be a fun, artistically challenging adventure kids will remember for the rest of their lives!

As a touring theatre company, we thrive in situations like this. We have years of adapting around mother nature. The result: our students become resilient, joyful and capable team players. Just the kinds of folks you want to be quarantined with.

What’s a Pod? To fight the social isolation kids are feeling right now, some parents are choosing to “take camp” with another family.  Both kids would be at one house with their laptops and headphones, either inside or outside.  During breaks, they could kick a soccer ball, eat brownies, walk the dog, or help each their memorize lines.  They could be at the same house all the time, alternate houses, or only Pod certain days of the week.  We’re calling these extended families “Pods!”

Form a Pod!  If your interested, just let us know (campdirector@travelingplayers.org) and we’ll connect you to another family who is similarly interested.  Then you can discover if you are both comfortable with the level of exposure in relation to coronavirus, if you live close to each other, and other logistics.  We recommend keeping your Pod tight and consistent, and taking appropriate precautions as outlined by the CDC.  

Separate Studios: Already have two or more campers in your home?  Congrats! You already have a Pod!  If the campers are in different ensembles, then they should each have a Studio of their own (separate rooms, trading off with one person working inside and the other person working outside).  If campers are in the same ensemble, than they can work in the same room but each camper should wear wireless headphones to avoid feedback while still allowing the campers freedom of movement.

Daily Digital Schedules:

I can’t begin to tell you how excited and impressed I am by the schedule. Unlike most camps, [Traveling Players has] put real time and effort into producing the best facsimile possible. It is so, so much better than anything else I’ve seen.

— Parent

  • 9:00-9:20 — Morning Revels:  Fun and games with your ensemble
  • 9:20-11:00 — Morning Rehearsals:  Developing character and relationship, choreographing fight scenes, practicing acting techniques, exploring blocking, and running scenes and lines.
  • 11:00-11:30 — Rest Period:  Give your brain and mind a rest from the screen! Use this time to walk the dog, learn your lines, or ride your bike!
  • 11:30-12:30 — Lunch:  The ZOOM room stays open so students can hang out with friends.
  • 12:30-2:00 — Afternoon Fun and Bonding:  Play games, or take an awesome class taught by our talented faculty!

  • 7:00-8:00 (MONDAYS ONLY) Monday Night Revels:  Juggling, singing, landing a punchline, and more! (Optional)

Students will receive several 10-minute breaks throughout the day.

Campers will also participate in activities that will take them away from their screens to work on artistic projects (e.g. taking photographs to create a design reference journal, working to build props, or working on script analysis activities).

  • 9:30-9:50 — Morning Revels:  Fun and games with your ensemble
  • 9:50-10:05 — Warm-Ups:  Physical and Vocal Training to get you ready for rehearsal
  • 10:05-12:00 — Morning Rehearsals:  Developing character and relationship, choreographing fight scenes, practicing acting techniques, exploring blocking, and running scenes and lines.
  • 12:00-1:00 — Lunch:  The ZOOM room stays open so students can hang out with friends.
  • 1:00-2:00 — Rest Hour:  Give your brain and mind a rest from the screen. Use this time to walk the dog, learn your lines, or ride your bike!
  • 2:00-3:00 — Classes:  A different class each day taught by our talented faculty! A typical week:
    • Mon:  Movement (Commedia or Laban)
    • Tues:  Voice (Breathing, Resonance, Articulation, Projection)
    • Wed:  Improvisation (Imagination, Group Mind, Impulses)
    • Thurs:  Stage Combat (Unarmed, Swordplay, Slapstick – don’t worry, no one gets hurt!)
    • Fri:  Technical Theatre (Dive into the world of design and production!)
  • 3:00-4:00 — Afternoon Rehearsals:  More rehearsal time
  • 4:00-4:15 — Office hours. (Optional)

  • 7:00-8:00 (MONDAYS ONLY) Monday Night Revels:  Juggling, singing, landing a punchline, and more! (Optional)

  • 7:00-8:30 (THURSDAYS ONLY) — Evening Fun & Bonding: Play games, watch a movie, and get to know the other awesome people at camp! The best memories always come from overnights.

Students will receive several 10-minute breaks throughout the day.

Campers will also participate in activities that will take them away from their screens to work on artistic projects (e.g. taking photographs to create a design reference journal, working to build props, or working on script analysis activities).

  • 10:00-10:10 — Morning Revels:  Fun and games with your ensemble
  • 10:10-10:30 — Warm-Ups:  Physical and Vocal Training to get you ready for rehearsal
  • 10:30-12:00 — Morning Rehearsals:  Developing character and relationship, choreographing fight scenes, practicing acting techniques, exploring blocking, and running scenes and lines.
  • 12:00-1:00 — Lunch:  The ZOOM room stays open so students can hang out with friends.
  • 1:00-2:00 — Rest Hour:  Give your brain and mind a rest from the screen. Use this time to walk the dog, learn your lines, or ride your bike!
  • 2:00-3:00 — Classes:  A different class each day taught by our talented faculty! A typical week:
    • Mon:  Movement (Commedia or Laban)
    • Tues:  Voice (Breathing, Resonance, Articulation, Projection)
    • Wed:  Improvisation (Imagination, Group Mind, Impulses)
    • Thurs:  Stage Combat (Unarmed, Swordplay, Slapstick – don’t worry, no one gets hurt!)
    • Fri:  Technical Theatre (Dive into the world of design and production!)
  • 3:00-4:30 — Afternoon Rehearsals:  More rehearsal time
  • 4:30-4:50 — Office hours. (Optional)

  • 7:00-8:00 (MONDAYS ONLY) Monday Night Revels:  Juggling, singing, landing a punchline, and more! (Optional)

  • 7:00-9:00 (THURSDAYS ONLY) — Evening Fun & Bonding: Play games, watch a movie, and get to know the other awesome people at camp! The best memories always come from overnights.

Students will receive several 10-minute breaks throughout the day.

Campers will also participate in activities that will take them away from their screens to work on artistic projects (e.g. taking photographs to create a design reference journal, working to build props, or working on script analysis activities).

  • 10:00-10:10 — Morning Revels:  Fun and games with your ensemble
  • 10:10-10:30 — Warm-Ups:  Physical and Vocal Training to get you ready for rehearsal
  • 10:30-12:00 — Morning Rehearsals:  Developing character and relationship, choreographing fight scenes, practicing acting techniques, exploring blocking, and running scenes and lines.
  • 12:00-1:00 — Lunch:  The ZOOM room stays open so students can hang out with friends.
  • 1:00-2:00 — Rest Hour:  Give your brain and mind a rest from the screen. Use this time to walk the dog, learn your lines, or ride your bike!
  • 2:00-3:00 — Classes:  A different class each day taught by our talented faculty! A typical week:
    • Mon:  Movement (Commedia or Laban)
    • Tues:  Voice (Breathing, Resonance, Articulation, Projection)
    • Wed:  Improvisation (Imagination, Group Mind, Impulses)
    • Thurs:  Stage Combat (Unarmed, Swordplay, Slapstick – don’t worry, no one gets hurt!)
    • Fri:  Technical Theatre (Dive into the world of design and production!)
  • 3:00-4:30 — Afternoon Rehearsals:  More rehearsal time
  • 4:30-5:00 — Office hours. (Optional)

  • 7:00-8:00 (MONDAYS ONLY) Monday Night Revels:  Juggling, singing, landing a punchline, and more! (Optional)
  • 8:00-9:30 (MONDAYS ONLY) — Monday Night Revels:  Evening Rehearsal & Cast Bonding!

  • 7:00-10:00 (THURSDAYS ONLY) — Evening Fun & Bonding: Play games, explore character, perfect a scene! The best work always happens on overnights.

Students will receive several 10-minute breaks throughout the day.

Campers will also participate in activities that will take them away from their screens to work on artistic projects (e.g. taking photographs to create a design reference journal, working to build props, or working on script analysis activities).