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  • Writer's pictureJaime Hilton

When One Curtain Closes...

...another one always opens!

Twenty-twenty held many theatrical disappointments. That much has already been well documented.

But the biggest blow came in June when Frozen Jr. Summer Camp cancelled. This was the camp my eight year old daughter was looking forward to. It was to be her first camp experience. Instead this little straw broke my camel’s back.

In the midst of our disappointment I walked out to our backyard and realized we had a perfect set up for a little outdoor theatre. We’ll hang sheets on the clothes line, ask parents to bring lawn chairs, and there it is - Backyard Drama Club was born.

From the inkling of the idea to the final curtain in August, everything came together, a beautiful picture of God working behind the scenes to bring beauty from ashes, order to chaos, life from dust, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)

I sifted through my years of camp counseling, vacation Bible schooling, and drama training and put together an outline of the week. I was graced with two of Ray’s former conservatory students who signed on without expecting anything in return.

We organized two camps (though we actually called them “clubs”). Midsummer Magic, for 3rd - 8th graders, performed a cut down version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I say cut down, as in shortened, not simplified. These kids learned the real deal language of Shakespeare and they did it so well! Aesop’s Amazing Animals, 1st - 5th graders, performed a series of vignettes from Aesop’s fables.

I was thrilled and surprised and delighted when people started signing up. Turns out we were not the only ones disappointed and missing friends and activities that summer! I asked for donations to help with supplies and again, was blown away by the generosity and spirit of the community.

Midsummer Magic met on what must have been the hottest week in July. Ever. It was oppressively hot. I started every day terrified that we would have kids dehydrate on our watch. Praise God, we filled them with Gatorade and water, covered them in prayer, sunscreen, and hats, and crowded them into whatever shady corner of the yard that we could.

In the mornings we played improv games, including a new one that I’m pretty sure we made up on the fly. It was a huge hit and played many times over throughout the week.

After lunch we rehearsed scenes, painted sets, and worked on costumes. Both clubs featured a Greek theme so we made togas out of t-shirts. Midsummer kids made floral wreath headpieces, and Aesops kids made animal ears. Both shows had a wonderful “Little Rascals-Our Gang-throwing-a-show-together” feel.

The Midsummer cast did get to perform in my backyard, which turned out really cool (special thanks to the neighbor who decided to mow his lawn at 3:00 in the afternoon - right when our show was starting - oh well - the show went on!). The Aesops club met the first week of August, when we were getting all the leftovers from Hurricane Isaias. Praise God, we were able to rent a Pavilion at the local park for Friday. It was a perfect location for our show and the rain didn’t hit until we were finished.

My takeaways from Backyard Drama Club are:

  • In Person Community is important and theatre builds community.

  • I adore small, homegrown, community theatre.

  • Shakespeare is not scary. Let’s stop pretending it is. If my 8-year-olds can do it, so can you!

  • The process of rehearsing a show is fertile ground for Gospel seeds and Spirit fruit.

I don’t honestly know if Backyard Drama Club was a quick fix to fill a hole this summer or if God has bigger plans in mind.

I do know it was exactly how we needed to spend the summer.

Do you love the idea of Backyard Drama Club and want to start one of your own? Contact me - - and I'll help you get started!

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