Ever wondered what Chewbacca would say if Shakespeare had written “Star Wars”? Would Yoda’s sage advice be taken more seriously if his speech was peppered with thees and thithers?
The stars would seem an unlikely place to meet the Elizabethan Bard, but that is the aim of a new summer camp at Kents Hill School.
The two-week day camp, being run by the newly formed Maine Stage Theater Company, hopes to introduce young people to Shakespearean language through a dramatization of Ian Doescher’s adaptation, “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope.”
“I think it’s an astonishingly good idea,” said Samuel Richards, who will direct the camp and the play.
“It sounds like tremendous fun and kind of a tweak of the old guys.”
Richards has secured the facilities and the councilors. Now all he needs is the campers.
“We need at least 30 campers to pull something like this off and we have like seven,” Richards said.
The camp, open to anyone ages 12 to 19, is set to run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday Aug. 10-22.
The $400 registration fee, which includes lunch each day, must be submitted by Friday to run the camp this year, Richards said.
“If it doesn’t work this year, it could be a great run-up to do it right next year,” he said.
The theater company has already secured the Kents Hill facilities next year, when Richards hopes to offer both day and overnight camps.
Todd Wheelden, director of auxiliary programs for Kents Hill, said the school typically hosts sports camps, but the theater company offers a chance to showcase the school and its facilities to a wider range of young people and parents. The school has transformed the former Newton Hall basketball court into a theater.
“It’s a great facility, and we’re really hoping to get it out to the community,” Wheelden said.
He said the camp gives the theater company a quality venue and the school a chance to attract would-be students.
“It can be kind of a two-way street,” Wheelden said. “We’re looking to collaborate and work for both of our interests.”
The Maine Stage Theater Company is the brainchild of Richards, who over the past few decades has produced dozens of plays; and musicals starring juvenile actors most notably as the head of the Southern Maine Association of Shakespearean Home-schoolers.
Now Richards wants to create the same learning opportunities for all students, not just those who are home schooled.
“I’ve been doing Shakespeare through home school for 25-plus years,” Richards said.
“What I kept hearing was, ‘What a shame the kids from public schools can’t have some of this.’”
Richards has been talking about forming the new theater company for the past few years, but those plans took off when Larisa Batchelder, who helped produce SMASH plays, put together a business plan and connected with Kents Hill.
The camp has drawn support from a number of people anxious to help with all levels of production from set creation to sound.
“We’re trying to get people in the community involved, especially since we’re losing the extra theater programs in schools these days,” Batchelder said.
Richards said the camp will be fun, but it also will be intense. The two weeks will end with a public performance, which means there will be a lot of work to do and a short time to prepare. He compared it to crunch week of SMASH performances, when it is not uncommon to put in 10-hour days.
The camp is an opportunity to learn every phase of putting on a play and how a theater is run.
“Kids who don’t necessarily want to be on stage can come and participate,” Batchelder said. “Whether they’re working behind the scenes or in front of the scenes, everyone will learn about Shakespeare, Shakespearean speech and have a lot of fun.”
For more information on Maine Stage Theater Company, call Larisa Batchelder at 500-2189 or email her at LarisaBatchelder@yahoo.com.