By Edwin Buggage
It is that time of year again where young stars are born. The Anthony Bean Community Theater (ABCT) is again holding its Annual Performance Arts Summer Camp. This year it will be held at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). The dates of the camp are June 3rd thru August 4th. The camp will run concurrently with the ABCT/NORD Camp from June 3rd to July 12th. ABCT Performance Arts Summer Camp ages range from 7 thru 17 and the ABCT/NORD Camp’s ages range from 7-12 years of age. The Anthony Bean Community Theater has become a place known for promoting Black Excellence at every level. It is a camp that offers much more than simply developing kids in the arts, but the whole person; something that keeps many families enrolling their children every summer.
“This is more than a training ground for the arts; it is a safe and nurturing environment where community is emphasized, friendship valued and personal growth celebrated,” says ABCT Founder Anthony Bean. Reflecting on the camp and its continued impact he says, “It is the ideal place for children to learn about the arts and develop creative skills, as they discover more about themselves and their world.”
All are invited to attend, and no previous theater experience is required. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided on site. Students enrolled in the camp will have special art activities and high-quality, hands-on workshops including theatre, playwriting, performance, production, costuming, lighting and set building.
ABCT: A Place to Learn about and Celebrate New Orleans Culture
Unlike some camps Bean’s approach is focused on instilling cultural pride and exposing and producing work that is culturally significant and relevant. “In this camp my goals are to teach the importance of teamwork, civic service, cultural value and the importance of culture,” Bean says. This year’s camp will culminate with the hit musical play “504”. Set in New Orleans four weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the city is under military siege, and a dusk to dawn curfew has been enacted, however, the international press is here to cover the story of the Katrina devastation. Fearing they will not be included in the rebuilding of a new, New Orleans a group of displaced New Orleans youth stage a dance concert on the corner of Orleans and North Claiborne Avenues “under the radar” to bring attention to the violence, crime, homelessness and inhumane living conditions that surround them.
More than 60 young actors, singers, and dancers portray the trials and tribulations that make up their daily lives as they exist in the shadows of New Orleans’ rich and powerful. Rap, gospel, jazz, bounce and rock and roll are blended into the moves of their young emotions as they tell their stories of pre and post-Katrina. The dates for the performances of “504” are August 2nd, 3rd and 4th. “I feel this is a great way to expose kids to their local history and hope to inspire them and the audience to continue to understand the importance of who we are as African-Americans and our contribution to New Orleans and what makes it unique,” says Bean.
It Takes A Village
Parents as well as the participants echo Bean’s thoughts on the impact of ABCT’s Summer Camp. “This is just what we really need for our children. I can see my little granddaughter Aliyah in the pictures, and I know she’s all into the program,” says Rose Vignaud. The community continues to support ABCT and its mission since its beginning nearly two decades ago. “Yes, they do an excellent job,” says Lorrie Sandifer, a regular attendee and supporter of ABCT. “I have been attending the theater for years; all the plays are well-organized and very entertaining. I would say to Anthony Bean keep up the great work.”
Anthony Jones is 12 years old and has been with ABCT for three years. “Being with Mr. Bean has helped me and many of the other students to become more focused and disciplined. But it is also fun to be onstage entertaining people. The things we learn can not only help us on the stage, but in the classroom and in our lives to become successful adults.” Glenn Summers is father to 12-year-old Kaitlyn Summers, he sees the theater has helping his daughter in many ways. “The work of ABCT builds character and confidence in her and the other kids as well. I see the impact it has in helping them in developing and presenting themselves in the quest for excellence. I feel it provides an outlet and is needed in our community where our young people have a place to pursue their passions and dreams to reach their full potential.”
ABCT has also found support in the current Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I am glad to see our present Mayor LaToya Cantrell embrace what we are doing at the theater. I think she gets it, that supporting our youth is important. She is progressive and is a problem-solver and sees that if we are to be a better City and move forward together, then we must invest in our youth,” Bean says.
For more information on ABCT Performance Arts Summer Camp call 504.862.PLAY (7529)