As a Residential Directing Assistant this year, I am brand new to the American Shakespeare Center. I was never a camper, never a production intern, and had never even been to the Blackfriars! Everything over the last week has been very new for me (and very fun). One thing that I’ve been in awe of is the high expectations we have for these campers… Rightfully so, because they not only rise to them, but exceed them! I don’t think I was nearly as remarkable at this age. However, with the high expectations we set for them, as well as the (typically even higher) expectations they set for themselves, some of them stress themselves out. Understandable, especially for teenagers. But sometimes you need to get away from all of that. And last night, they did.

Last night was our masquerade. The theme was PRIDE and the campers were told to “Dress to impress.” And they did! The attire ranged from full length ball gowns, suits, a reindeer onesie, and more. And of course, many sparkles. They went to the Wharf and danced the night away in the room that decked out with rainbow decorations and colored lights. If the scream-singing, funky dance moves, and frequent applause was any indication, they had a blast.

I love to see our campers learn about scansion and rhetoric. And it’s amazing to see the way they breathe life into their characters. But I’ll be honest, last night is what matters most to me. (My role is Social Leader, yes, I’m biased!) Ultimately, these campers should be having fun. Many of our them are homeschooled and last night was their first “school dance,” which is truly a rite of passage for any adolescent. Stakes were high, but I think they were met. The skills they gain here are something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and they can apply to their future work. But when reflecting on specific memories from their time at the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, I think the masquerade is one that will stick.