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Taking The Drama out of Life by Putting it Onstage

Life is but a Dream: Meet the Summer Theatre Camp of Montclair

Children of all ages need a wonderful, safe place to be themselves, and to be able to share their thoughts and feelings. Emotional intelligence is every bit as important to their success and lives as academics and sports.”

Let’s face it: summertime is a blast for kids yet can be a logistical nightmare for parents. But what if you could sign your kids up for a summer camp that will entertain them, teach them, offer them a stress-free space in which to make friends, feel empowered, and also give you both before and after care? The Summer Theatre Camp of Montclair does just that, and is taking applications now for children to join them in their 30th year of summer programs.
Founder Mary Ann Riel said she built this local school, housed in the air conditioned space of the Unitarian Church on Church Street, in order to teach
children the incredible performing arts and also to foster a sense of safety in
our hi-tech, bully-laden world.

“Our camp is a safe place, always,” said Riel. "We need to keep the drama on
the stage, and that is exactly what we do.”

Besides being an actor and director, Riel is a firm believer that connecting the
dots between a solid performing arts program will encourage kids to stay of
their devices (none allowed here!) and make friends.
“Children of all ages need a wonderful, safe place to be themselves, and to be
able to share their thoughts and feelings,” she added. “Emotional intelligence is
every bit as important to their success and lives as academics and sports.”

Classes are organized in diferent age groups including:
5 - 7 years old
8- 11 years old
12 -17

The Summer Theatre Camp of Montclair also provides both before and after
care for busy parents, free snacks and has their staff pick up great lunches (for
purchase) from hot spots like Beyond Pita daily. The staff is trained and
professional, including some high profile heavy hitters and alumni who return
to train the children.

Since acting and performing has been linked to higher grades and a much deeper sense of self- esteem, sending your kids to an acting summer camp is a no brainer. And, a major theme for the summer is Shakespeare, which every child will get to perform on stage. Riel also writes an original play each year for the students, and said it’s always exciting for them – and their families.
“This is a dynamic, fun, open area of respect,” explained Riel. “You can’t do safe
work without that. I think of it as the cure for bullying: it builds empowerment
and mutual respect, and there is absolutely no judgement!”

An interesting feature of the camp is their “Stage Combat”, which is a very
specialized technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of
physical combat without causing harm to the performers. It is employed in
live stage plays as well as operatic and ballet productions.
As Riel wrote for her site, “As our staff prepares for a summer of Theatre
Games, Play Rehearsal, Acting, Singing, Dancing, Movement and Improv, we
take moments in our day to reflect upon the goals we want to achieve here at
The Summer Theatre Camp of Montclair. It goes without saying that skillbuilding
in the areas of Performance is a main goal. We want all our camp
participants to gain Performing Skill and Confidence…and in our experience
spanning 30 years of summer programs, they do!
"Another goal is friendship. Because we are now dealing with the wonders of
technology and its darker side of disconnecting us from each other, we want
our participants to revel in the real time, real life sweetness of connecting with
each other. Oh, the friendships that are made here and that span the years. Our
staf is awed and pleased that these friendships remain so faithful and
meaningful throughout our past participants’ lives.
"Last, but not least: We are true believers in the healing power of Theatre Work!
Understanding and compassion are the natural outgrowths of our work. We
believe that is why theatre artists can be so sensitive, intuitive and caring. What
say you?”
Call Artistic Director Mary Ann Riel (973) 746-8686 or
email maryann@stagekids.us Visit their website at http://


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