Eastport Arts Center’s Summer Arts Camp, held July 6-9, was a gathering of creative young minds, ripe with energetic ideas and spiced by lively theater activities. Each day began with instructor Ann Cannizzaro leading campers in a visual art project.

Puppets—some as tall as the children—were made in every shape the campers could imagine: a hawk, a ghost tiger, a warrior, an elf, an ‘average Joe,’ a monster and several unicorns, including a unicorn cat. Simple household materials were used in these constructions, and campers were encouraged to continue experimenting and building at home. Each child also designed their own papier mâché mask using cool and warm colors, revealing an array of animals, creatures and inventive characters.

Following the art activities, the children took part in theater exercises with Lauren ‘L.’ Elwood and Mark Macey. L. provided warm-up activities to get campers ‘in their bodies,’ including stretches, vocalization and camper favorite game, “Run and Scream.” Next, Mark led a variety of theater and improv games, including his favorite, “What Are You Doing?”

Over the course of the four days of camp, Mark worked with campers to explore the ways their puppets could move and make sounds, and how to inhabit their papier mâché character masks. In addition, he taught the young thespians foundational stage language. Elwood and Macey began a Summer Session of EAC’s Children’s Theater Workshop on July 14, expanding on the great vibes they began spinning during camp. 

“Having the last year of my college schooling happen amid the pandemic,” noted L., newest on the EAC team and a recent graduate of Oberlin College, “I had very few opportunities to learn and teach in person, so it was a joy to help lead and learn the theater portion of the camp with Mark!”

“The group was so focused and engaged!” enthused art instructor Ann Cannizzaro. “It was wonderful to see the kids doing the thinking work and planning to build such inventive puppets. It was a real opportunity to have campers build a puppet and create a mask, and then take it immediately to the stage! Mark and L. helped the kids bring their creations to life through stage craft instruction and games … so much fun and learning!”

“The camp was a totally fun arts experience for these talented young children and their instructors,” noted organizer Alison Brennan. “We were pleased to host youngsters from Eastport, Calais, Perry, Machias and Whiting. Some of them are graduates from our KinderArts program. I truly enjoy watching their creativity bloom as they get older.”

“Watching the kids create their masks with Ann and then bringing them to life on the stage was a blast,” added Mark Macey. “Getting to work with L. ahead of our summer session of Children’s Theater Workshop was the cherry on top.”

Support for Summer Arts Camp was provided by the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.  

The session finale, to the delight of families in attendance, was a parade of in-character entrances, exits and stage crossings by the puppeteers.
Those interested in a glimpse of the arts campers work with Macey and Elwood can check out this video, created to promote the team’s Children’s Theater Workshop session, which—it is reported—has some arts camp graduates in regular attendance!