PHOTO/GIRLS ROCK RENO: A group rehearses at last year’s Girls Rock Reno band camp.
By Frank X. Mullen
In the face of a pandemic, creative souls turn adversity into art. It has always been so.
Henry VIII, a tyrant who was also a composer, chose his organ player as one of the five men he quarantined with during an epidemic in the 1500s; Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” while on lockdown from the plague in 1606; and Johann Sebastian Bach, who lost his wife and 10 of his 20 children to a disease outbreak in 1722, coped with his grief by composing music that comforted the survivors and mourned the victims. Art has power over pestilence. Children and teens in Northern Nevada will have a chance to imbibe that tonic at a variety of virtual day camps and programs this summer.
“This year we’ve changed our format to be an entirely virtual camp, so we’re calling it the Rock at Home Summer,” said Rosie Zuckerman, an organizer of Girls Rock Reno, a program under the auspices of the Holland Project. The July 13th through 17th camp is open to all self-identified girls, trans and non-binary youth, ages 9 to 17. Participants will learn to play an instrument, form a band, write a song together, and stage a virtual performance/talent show at the end of a week. Instruments include guitars, drums and the human voice.
“We‘re doing instrument lending, so kids don’t need to have their own instruments,” Zuckerman said. She said the guitars will come with small practice amplifiers and the drum kits will be stripped down, but will be real drums, not drum pads. The vocal students will get pitch pipes and, possibly, microphones, to give their performances a more professional edge.
“Part of what we’re focusing on is the innovative aspect of playing music, how you can sort of make it work with whatever you have,” she said. The tech platforms include a program called Soundtrap, which will enable the artists to record their own tracks and collaborate with each other online. “It’s pretty intuitive program and it will all be guided by their band managers,” Zuckerman said.
Musicians will do recorded and live-stream performances and the campers will get a shot at live question-and-answer sessions with the professionals from Nevada and California. Local musicians are the counselors and teachers, Zuckerman said, and a variety of workshops – including such topics as jingle-writing, DIY recording, yoga, gender identity and hip-hop — will be offered to the students.”We’re putting together a sort of camp-in-a-box for the kids and workshop materials will be included in that.”
Tuition for the at-home summer program is $100; financial aid and scholarships will be available. Applications for Girls Rock Reno are posted on line. Those who wish to participate, but who may need technical assistance or support in order to do so, may contact the organizers through their Website. For kids and teens who yearn for the footlights, but are less instrumentally inclined, the play – or musical theater — may be the thing.
The Great Plague of London shut down the Globe Theater in 1606. When the COVID pandemic struck this year, the same fate was visited upon all U.S. stages, including the Wild Horse Theater in Carson City. Yet, children, teens and young adults will still have a chance to sing, dance, act and stride the virtual boards this summer.
And Hollywood’s and Broadway’s loss is Northern Nevada’s gain: For this year’s Virtual Summer Theater Academy, Wild Horse Productions is offering workshops taught by a former Radio City Rockette, a star of the Broadway hit “Wicked,” a couple of Los Angeles-based casting directors and other theater professionals. “One of the benefits we had is we were able to call in favors from professionals all over the country who aren’t able to work on stage right now,” said Carol Scott, executive director of Wild Horse Productions.
She said workshops and master classes will be offered, one in June and several in July, with details and sign-ups available on the Virtual Summer Theater Academy’s website. The workshops, whose tuition ranges from $10 to $30, include The Art of Self-Tape: Video Auditions; I Want to be A Rockette Master Dance Workshop; “Wicked” Broadway Master Classes; Disney Princess Sing-A-Long and Storytime; LA Casting Agent Audition Master Class; Finding Your Voice Through Theatrical Storytelling; Voiceover Technique for Actors; Disney’ Dance Party; Audition Technique for Young Actors; and more. The summer program also will include the theater company’s first virtual performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That four-week program of auditions and rehearsals runs Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays, July 13 – Aug. 8, with a live-stream performance Aug. 8. It’s open to participants over age 13 and capped at 30 students. Tuition is $100.
Scott said two live children’s and young adult performances had to be postponed this year, but should be rescheduled for sometime in 2021. In the meantime, digital theater will have to do. “We’re not going to fold, we’re not going to let it get the best of us,” Scott said. “We’re going to get our kids on stage this summer even if it’s a virtual thing.”
And there’s more. Kidscape Productions (775-544-0346) is offering a variety of virtual and in-person camps and classes this month and in July. A virtual drop-in improv class is being offered today, June 22, and Wednesday. This week, an in-person play-writing class also is underway. There’s a short-form improvisation class scheduled June 29 to July 3 for kids ages 7 to 17; a week-long, in-person play writing class offered July 6 to July 10; and an in-person long-form improve class for ages 7-17 scheduled for July 20-24. Details, tuition information and sign-ups for the in-person classes can be found on the Kidscapeproductions Website. The organization notes that the in-person camps will follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID sanitation and safety.