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Spotlight on Theater Performance, Technical Theater, Sports & Swim

Theater Performance

Want to be onstage? Learn to act, sing, dance, write, and direct? To play a part in a hilarious comedy  A serious drama? The world premiere of a musical? Or maybe you’d like to learn stage combat, or improve your improv skills, or create original plays based on The Hunger Games? You can do all of this—and more—in a summer of theater at Appel Farm!

Our Approach to Teaching and Making Theater

Our approach to theater at Appel Farm is collaborative and non-competitive. We believe that everyone has the potential to be an amazing, unique performer. We believe that young people, and all people, do their best work in a supportive environment where they’re free to try new things, take risks, and make mistakes.  We don’t hold auditions, and we don’t make cuts. Our plays are ensemble-based—everyone gets a meaningful part. Our classes are active and engaging, and offer the opportunity to explore lots of different ways to make theater. We offer lots of opportunities for people of all experience levels. Been acting for years, and ready to take your skills to the next level? Never been onstage before, and want to give it a try? Come play!

Campers who major in Theater Performance are double majors, spending the whole morning in process-based acting classes and rehearsal for their plays.

  • Double Major: Acting Class and Play Rehearsal

Acting Classes

Acting classes are active, engaging, and fun. We build community and ensemble, we learn new skills, and then we use these skills to make things together—scenes, plays, camp-wide flash mobs, all kinds of things!

Our Plays

We produce ten to twelve fully-staged productions every summer, complete with sets, lights, costumes, and sound. Our plays are a mix of well-known classics and exciting contemporary work. Last year’s plays included a classic modern drama (Almost, Maine), a big-band musical (Thoroughly Modern Millie), a farce about the boy band revival (Feed the Whales), a cycle of short plays by a contemporary Pulitzer-winning playwright (365 Days/365 Plays), and a world premiere of a lip-synched musical comedy about genetic mutations! We don’t do auditions, cuts, or bit parts—everyone who wants a role in a play can get one, and every role is a meaningful role!


Popuar past Theater Performance Minors that we have most summers include Acting for Stage and Film, Body and Voice Technique, Musical Theater, Theater Dance, and Sketch and Improv Comedy. Other minors, which vary every summer and reflect the unique strengths of current staff, have included Playwriting, Musical-Writing, Directing, Stage Combat, Physical Comedy, Radio Theater, Solo Performance, Superhero-Creation, and much, much more!

Actors Studio

The Theater Department runs Actors Studio during Late Night Fun Time. Sessions are designed for anyone interested in exchanging ideas and performing techniques, discussing character development and approaches to acting and for delving into the actor’s world in greater depth.

About Ben Fink, Head of Theater Performance


Ben Fink, Head of Theater Performance, is a life-long Appel Farmer. He first came to camp in the ‘90s as a camper (a theater major, always).  He came back to work at camp in 2008…and he’s been here ever since!  When he’s not at camp, Ben lives in Minneapolis and works at the University of Minnesota as an instructor and PhD candidate in the humanities and theater.  He leads classes, workshops, trainings, and public events on community-based theater with theater companies and educational institutions across the Twin Cities.  He spent two years on the board of directors of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, an international nonprofit that promotes the use of theater in school, college, and community education.  He has translated plays by prominent German and Spanish playwrights into English, and he worked as dramaturg and translation consultant on the first German-language productions of Grey Gardens and the early Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle. His research on theater has been presented at several international conferences and published in the prominent American theater journal Theatre Topics. And he really, really likes Magic: The Gathering.

Technical Theater

Campers in the Technical Theater program learn about theatrical design for sets, lighting, sound, props, and costumes. They become lighting designers and light board operators; sound designers and sound board operators; properties designers and properties crew; costume designers, seamstresses, tailors, and dressers; set designers and construction crew, stage managers and run crew.

  • Major I classes include : Theatrical Design & Construction
  • Major II classes include : Stage Crew & Construction, Costume Design

Past Technical Theater Minors, which vary every summer and reflect the unique strengths of current staff, have included Stage Make Up, Scenic Painting, Costume Design, Prop Design & Set Contruction.

Sports & Swim

The Sports & Swim program at Appel Farm is safe, well-supervised, and non-competitive, and offers instruction in skill building and teamwork. Facilities include a basketball court, 2 tennis courts, 3 athletic fields, and a 25 meter swimming pool.

  • Major I classes include : Tennis
  • Major II classes include : Instructional Swim, Team Sports



Past Sports & Swim Minors, which vary every summer and reflect the unique strengths of current staff, have included Tennis, Instructional Swim, Water Ballet, Team Sports, and a double minor in Horseback Riding.

Horseback Riding

Windfall Farm Dressage, a prestigious farm located just 10 minutes from Appel Farm, has created a specialized program for Appel Farm campers to combine horseback riding with the arts. For an additional cost, campers can choose to enroll in the program as both of their minors and will spend every afternoon learning about horse care, dressage style riding, and even jumping, and will work towards a choreographed performance on horseback.

Click here to learn more about our Horseback Riding program!

Optional Activities

Many campers choose to participate in Sports & Swim activities during their free time as well. Here are a few activities offered:
  • Lap Swimming before Breakfast during Early Birds
  • Free-Swim every afternoon during Afternoon Free Choice
  • Bunk Pool Parties
  • Yoga and Aerobic Classes during Early Birds, Afternoon Free Choice, and Late Night Fun Time
  • Organized games and tournaments during Afternoon Free Choice in Basketball, Softball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, etc…
  • The International vs. United States Soccer Match once a session