My name is Katy Hiott, and I am a rising senior Theatre major at North Greenville University in South Carolina. I grew up participating in many theatre camps and was able to experience the magic of theatre as a young child. As I began a more in-depth study of theatre, I knew I wanted to give back and offer children a chance to fall in love with theatre, just as many people had invested in my love of theatre as a young girl. This created a desire in me to teach theatre and the magic it brings. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company Education Department has given me a chance to do just that!
This summer, I am an intern for the Shakespeare Superheroes camps for kids ages seven to fifteen. I just finished my first camp of the summer. I loved it! Before camp began, I was a bit nervous about teaching. I knew my responsibilities included assisting with directing and choreographing a performance at the end of camp, as well as helping lead games and other activities. However, I didn’t know how the kids would respond to me or if they would be able to grasp the poetic language found in Shakespeare’s play. My doubts quickly disappeared—these kids absolutely blew me away. Although they enjoyed playing games and getting to know one another, I was surprised by how smart and dedicated they were to performing. On breaks, they often practiced lines or music for the performance. Several students even had their monologues memorized the day after they received their scripts. Their focused dedication and commitment to the show was evident. Most of all, I was impressed by the imagination of these children. Not bound to the pressing conformity of the world, Shakespeare’s works came alive in fresh and creative ways through their interpretation of the script. Was their interpretation completely accurate in meaning? No, but the kids put their heart and souls into the performance and their hard work clearly showed. The two weeks weren’t without struggles and hardships, but everyone pushed through and created an entertaining (and hilarious, I might add) piece of theatre.
My favorite moment from camp took place on the day before the performance. During a rehearsal, the kids began to gasp after every line during one of the scenes after being prompted to be as over the top as they could possibly be. They acted as if a big secret was being revealed as each line was spoken. As the students became more engrossed in the scene, the more captivating they became to watch. Eventually, their characters became bolder and bolder. The students, even the ones who were very shy, came bursting out of their shells. As I watched the students laughing at how silly they were being and how much fun they were having bringing Shakespeare to life, my mind was reawakened to how magical theatre can be. I can’t help but think that it’s one of the most beautiful memories I’ll have of the summer.
One of the most excellent benefits about theatre is experiencing the freedom and the excitement that accompanies exploring worlds different from your own. Watching these students giggle, make new friends, learn the basics of theatre, experience struggles and successes in learning and understanding two of Shakespeare’s works, and come together to create a show for their families and friends was truly a revitalizing experience. These kids reminded me that a playful and open attitude can transform the way I view and participate in theatre. They reawakened my imagination and reminded me of the magical world of theatre I grew to love as a young girl. I am truly grateful for these kids and the opportunity the Shakespeare Tavern has given me to invest through teaching. I look forward to round two of camp in July!