What is theater?

What does it mean to perform on a stage as part of a larger production with lines, costumes, stage directions and make-up? What does it take to put on a show?

A group of nine students have been learning what it means to be part of an on-stage production through a theater camp over the past two weeks all in an effort to prepare them for their big break – as part of the cast for this year’s Redwood Area Theatre (RAT) production of “Greater Tuna.”

According to Katy Eckes, who has been leading the theater camp, the intent is to expose the students to the basics of theater and what it means to perform.

“We want to give them the full theater experience,” said Eckes.

Providing them with the opportunity to actually be on the stage of the Estebo Performing Arts Center at Redwood Valley schools is helping them feel a higher level of comfort in that setting, added Eckes.

“This is a great group of kids,” she said. “They are so creative and so imaginative.”

The children’s theater camp troupe includes: Trevon Andreasen, Lily DeBlieck, Finnley Berg, Kenzie Lundeen, Lola Luze, Avery Monson, Henley Oman, Karsyn Ramey and Elyse Vogland.

Youth ages seven through 12 were involved with the program offered through the Redwood Area Community Education program in conjunction with RAT, and each of them will have the opportunity over the next few weeks leading up to the RAT performances to have an even greater level of exposure.

“Starting in July they will come to rehearsals,” said Eckes.

Yes, they each will have a part in the presentation of “Greater Tuna,” including having the chance to present some brief vignettes they have been rehearsing. These brief presentations in what Eckes described as a “Prairie Home Companion” style have the young performers singing, dancing and acting.

The young performers met for an hour for eight days over the previous two weeks in the Redwood Valley choir room and in the PAC to hone their skills and to learn the importance of stage presence, projection and enunciation.

Those who were at a recent day of camp agreed they were having a lot of fun and were learning new ideas about concepts such as “stage right” and “stage left,” and all of them were looking forward to the chance to be part of this summer’s RAT performance.

The public will have the opportunity to see the results of the theater camp later this month when “Greater Tuna” is presented in the community.