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 or Divergent? 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 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 skills-based studios and rehearsals for their plays.
Our studios are an active, engaging, and fun way to learn the skills of making theater. Campers can choose among a wide variety of skills they’d like to learn—past studios have included musical theater, improv, solo performance, physical and psychological character development, and directing! In addition, every studio teaches the basic acting, body, and voice techniques campers need to give a great performance in their plays.
Our plays include comedies, dramas, musicals, classics, modern and experimental theater, and world premiere original productions, sometimes written by our campers! We produce ten to twelve fully-staged plays every summer, complete with sets, lights, costumes, and sound. We don’t hold auditions, and we don’t make cuts—anyone who wants a role in a play can get one, and every role is a meaningful role!
Want to make some theater, but not sure you want to be in a play? Then try a theater minor! MINORS, held in the afternoon, are a great opportunity to do theater in a more relaxed, experimental environment. Most of our minors change each summer, to reflect the unique talents and abilities of our current staff—past minors include Stage Combat, Playwriting, Intro Acting, Acting for the Camera, Directing, Physical Comedy, Radio Theater, Solo Performance, Spy School, Dance Theater, Playing The Hunger Games, Playing Adventure Time, and Playing Divergent. And every summer we offer our perennially popular minors in Improv, Musical Theater, and Spoken Word Poetry!
Want to work on creating a character? Preparing a piece for a Friday Night Concert? Just need some help with your lines? Come to the Actors Sudio! The Actors Studio is a place for anyone to come during Late Night Fun Time who’d like to develop acting skills, work on a play or a project, or just spend time talking theater with one of our expert instructors.
About Ben Fink, Head of Theater Performance and Creative Writing
Ben Fink, Head of Theater Performance and Creative Writing, is a life-long Appel Farmer. He first came to camp in the ‘90s as a camper (a theater major, always). He started working at camp in 2008 as a bunk counselor and theater director…and he’s been here ever since! Ben has a Ph.D. in cultural studies and comparative literature from the University of Minnesota, where he taught for many years. He leads classes, workshops, trainings, and public events on community-based theater with theater companies, schools, colleges, and universities across the country. Ben co-founded a theater company in Chicago and spent two years on the board of directors of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. He has translated plays by prominent German and Spanish playwrights and worked as dramaturg on the German-language premieres of Grey Gardens and 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.
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.