“We’ve got some great kids this year,” said director Tina Radke as the 18 teenagers ran a one-act performance as part of their practice Thursday.
Other than some occasional suggestions from Radke, the run-through was entirely self-sufficient. Some students shouted stage directions and finalized blocking, while others clutched scripts and memorized lines.
This self-sufficiency, however, was the result of lots of practice and instruction. The Teen Theatre Camp teaches high school and middle school students a wide variety of skills. Students practiced monologues, prepared for auditions, and learned improv and stage combat. They also learned technical skills like stage makeup, sound, set design, stage management and costuming.
The kids also chose their own one-act play, which will be performed as part of the camp’s presentation tonight. “It’s controversial,” said Radke. “They wanted to do a play about mental illness, so I brought three scripts for them and this is the one they chose.”
The play portrays the aftermath of a school shooting.
Molly Turner, a sophomore at Dobynns-Bennett who has already acted in 19 performances, plays school shooter Josh.
“I think what we’re doing is really important and powerful,” she said of the issues the play tackles.
Molly plans to pursue a career in acting. Through the Kingsport Theatre Guild and other venues, she is practicing the skills she will need in the world of professional theatre.
“I’m just aiming for the most,” she said.
Camp counselor Garrett Herron, a senior at Volunteer High School, is proud of how well the kids have developed their skills.
“They really took off with it,” he said. “They took off running and progressed a lot.”
The kids, Garrett said, come from many different backgrounds, schools and skill levels. They might never have met in the course of their everyday lives. “But in theatre, they can find each other and form a unified performance.”