Let's Talk About Art: Theater arts camp

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Yikes! Summer's half over.

If you have a flair for theatrics, it's not too late to make your grand entrance.

As part of the annual Art Camps summer program, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside is offering a two-week-long day camp called "Center Stage." It runs Mondays-Fridays Aug. 5-16.

Besides honing performance skills, junior thespians learn about playwriting (story, dialogue, scene structure) as well as designing and creating their own sets, props and costumes. Inspired by the art installed in PCA's galleries, the campers collaborate on writing their own play. Separated into two age groups (8-10 and 11-14) the youngsters perform together as one big ensemble.

The grand finale? A performance for family and friends.

Unlike other theater camps where youngsters audition for a specific play, this camp is more student-centered, says Jena Robbins Schieb, children's programs manager and Art Camps director at PCA. "Students are in control of their production from start to finish," she explains. In addition, "a huge asset to our program is the quality of our teaching artists," she says.

For instance, this year's lead instructor is Bria Walker. She's an actress, singer, writer and director who earned her MFA in acting at the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for The Performing Arts. She has many local as well as New York theater credits and is currently an artist-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Everything is generated from their imaginations," says Ms. Walker. "We lead the students through theater games and writing exercises for the purpose of working their imagination muscles."

The freedom to explore and tap into that creativity has much value for youngsters, these educators concur. "It helps build confidence," says Ms. Walker, "and they learn how to work together to achieve an amazing goal."

So while the heat index pushes 101, students interested in playwriting, performing and set design might enjoy "chillin' " inside with this theater camp. For more information: 412-361-0455 or jschieb@pittsburgharts.org.

Correction/Clarification: (Updated July 23, 2013)An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Jena Robbins Schieb. theater


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