As many Bay Area residents look forward to easing Covid restrictions, San Jose’s Playful People Productions announces its summer slate of classes, workshops, and activities for all ages, including both online and safety-conscious in-person offerings for small groups.
The summer session begins June 21 and continues through August 6. To register, visit https://campscui.active.com/orgs/PlayfulPeopleProductions. For more information, families can visit www.PlayfulPeople.org or call (408) 878-5362.
For children ages five to eight, Playful People’s Junior Theatre offerings include several five-day camps, some wholly online and some with both online and in-person components: a Fairy Theater Camp, where students plant a container garden, make fairy houses and tiny props, then narrate and stage a photo series to illustrate an original story written by the class; an Animal Circus Camp, where kids create an online circus with a camp crate full of activities, crafts, facepaint, and costume pieces, then record their Big Top tricks and talents; a Superheroes in Training Camp, a fully online camp to design and build costumes, gadgets, and superpowers, then record a class story which will be edited with special effects; a Costume Box Camp, in which participants receive a box of costume pieces and accessories to act out favorite stories and create new ones; and two Puppet Camps – one half days, one full days – to build individual puppets, props, and puppet-sized sets and a theater to keep, while creating a story to perform and record.
Children ages eight to twelve can enjoy their own full-day Puppet Camp, or rehearse and perform the new, adventure-filled play “Mars or Bust!” written by PPP Artistic Director Katie D’Arcey. Designed to be safely performed either on stage with socially distanced and masked casts of 6, or performed online over Zoom, this story follows the first six kids to be sent to Mars to live in the newly designed Mars Research Station. Things start to get a little dicey when the six crash and are separated, each astronaut navigating the terrain and trying to find each other, alone, on a foreign planet. “Mars or Bust!” will have both online and in person productions; all versions will be filmed and edited for online streaming.
Kids eight to 17 can explore the unique art of Kamishibai (kah-ME-she-BYE) Storytelling in a one-week, full-day, in-person camp. Popular in Japan in the 1930’s and until television, kamishibai delights and engages audiences with beautifully painted story cards set in a butai (a small wooden theater). After creating their own butai and story cards, each participant will have the opportunity to film their storytelling in front of a small live audience, to be streamed online. Classes of six or fewer will be assigned by age (8-12 or 13-17).
For teens 13 to 17, Playful People Productions offers Teen Angst Puppet Camp: in the spirit of Avenue Q and Team America, this specially designed teen camp takes a very limited number of participants on a journey of self-discovery through creative snarkiness and angst. Teens build and create their alter-ego in puppet/muppet form, and write monologues for those creations to speak their minds freely, no holds barred. Filming and editing of the puppet monologues will produce videos that participants can choose to share or keep just for themselves.
All in-person programs will follow strict safety protocols and all guidelines set by the county. In-person camps will take place at Hoover Theater in fixed groups of no more than 6 students for every 1 coordinator. Students will not share materials, but will be provided with a camp crate or bag with everything they will need for all crafts and activities. In-person classes will take place both indoors and outdoors, following room capacity restrictions and social distancing. Masks are required at all times except when eating or drinking. Temperatures will be taken at the door upon arrival, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
Current restrictions do not allow audiences in the theater, so any and all final camp performances, skits, puppet shows, and projects will be recorded and presented online. The possibility of outdoor performances for small groups will be explored as county guidance restrictions change, and safety protocols will similarly follow changing guidelines.
Playful People Productions was first founded in 2010 as a positive, inclusive, family-focused theatre company, and has operated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit since 2017. While initially providing classes, camps, and shows for kids, the company has grown to offer similar classes for adults and stages performances where family members can perform together. Normally performing out of the Historic Hoover Theatre in San Jose, the company immediately sprung into action in March, 2020 to create POP (Playful Online People) programming, converting all its theatre experiences to virtual formats and continuing to make arts and theatre opportunities available to kids and families during the pandemic.
Mother and daughter team Barbara Galiotto and Katie D’ Arcey are Positive Discipline trained; both have worked as early Childhood Educators; and as professional directors with children’s theater. The pair have approximately 50 years experience between them in the musical theater world and, together with a small team of permanent staff and an array of talented directors, teachers, and support personnel, offer beginner through advanced theatre experiences for the whole family.