SPAE 2018- The Post You’ve Been Waiting For!

Abby, Nathaniel, Susie, and I have been immersed in the Leland and Gray Summer Theater program the past week and we’ll wrap up this week. It’s been so fun and inspiring to work with these high school students-and it’s getting us totally amped for SPAE 2018!! (Don’t worry- Emily will  be there too- but right now she’s traveling up the West Coast!) As another side note- come see “You Can’t Beat the House” this Friday at 7 and Saturday at 3 in the Dutton Gym!!! (Entry by donation!) And like the new Leland and Gray Summer Theater Facebook Page for more updates.

So- the question on all of your minds- What’s the SPAE show?!

Okay fine. We’ll spill the beans.


And if that’s not enough of a preview for you- check out some of the tunes we’ll be using…

READ THE BOOK. The movie is great too. BUT READ THE BOOK.

More soon you rockstars, we can’t wait to see you!!!


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ThurSPAE 22222222!



Today was a jam-packed day at SPAE. We “Stumbled Through” the show this afternoon which means we stop to fix what we so lovingly call “train wrecks,” and plow through as best we can. We had to skip through some stuff to make it to the end by 3 (well, after 3, thanks for your patience!)

Tomorrow, THE BIG DAY!!!
I hope you’ve told everyone you know and love because holy smokes these young performers have worked incredibly hard and have poured massive amounts of their hearts into this show. Today was the day when we really saw the community come together. Check out the pictures of campers who split up to help each other with lines in their few moments of downtime, when I saw these photos tonight I had tears in my eyes.

There were a few other tear-jerking moments today, but I don’t want to give them away. You’ll experience them too, I’m sure.

**ALL Campers and Counselors stay through to the show tomorrow night. We have a potluck dinner around 4:15. Feel free to drop off your goodies in the morning or before 4. Thank you so much, your contributions give us energy to make it through the night!!

I hope all the performers are fast asleep by now, so to our SPAE Families and Friends I say, GOOD NIGHT!

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WedneSPAE2! Blocking, Ron, MORE!

Hey Baybieeeez!

It’s crunch-time which means this blog post is going to be short!
Today we plowed through as much blocking as we could. As I’ve said before, blocking can be a tiresome and not super fun process, but I have to say that with this group of performers there have been many magical, hysterical, artful, and surprising moments during blocking.

Today Ron returned to wrap up the instrumental portion of our show. We combined this with Nathaniel’s work with Cerebus, the three-headed dog, who after intimidating Grover and Annabeth, shows its true colors and really just wants companionship. It’s touching. It’s a terrific example of how tremendous moments can happen onstage without a single piece of dialogue. AND- it was a great reminder for me about how lucky SPAE is to have people like Ron Kelley and Nathaniel Van Osdol as pillars in our community. Badabing, Badaboom.

Today the Camp Half-Blood Trainers and I did some planning for their Improvised scenes. We cannot wait to do these with you… more on that to come.
We choreographed more of our partner-combat and started thinking about how we’ll put all of the fighting together for our Giant Capture-the-Flag scene.
AND- so much more, but I’ve got to go work on tomorrow’s schedule to make sure it all gets done! Look at Flickr for more photos of today’s work!!!

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Tue(2)SPAE: Slinky, Blocking, Fairen!

For 7 years, (with the exception of a few years where it may have fallen on the weekend,) we have been celebrating Fairen’s birthday at SPAE. It’s always one of my favorite SPAE days. Each year some weird thing is done to her, sometimes by directors and sometimes by counselors. This year the Director-Team took it upon themselves to bring one of Fairen’s favorite games to life by putting her on a game show where she met the real-life versions of Mr. Whiskers, Misty Viscous, and Whispy Mixer. That poor girl. Happy 16th Birthday Fairen, we love you endlessly.

This morning Abby discussed the difference between acting for film and acting for the stage with campers because this afternoon we FILMED A SCENE!!! Here are some of the differences that campers came up with:

-Camera catches more subtleties in your face
-Can film in different locations
-Don’t have to memorize as many lines
-Can redo takes over and over

James, Ainsley, Andrew, and Hannah stayed after to camp to film a scene. Abby did an awesome job of setting up tons of different shots, and I remarked to her afterward that it was incredible how much time it takes (it took about an hour and a half not including the time Fairen spent before hand creating Ainsley’s Fury-Face and then applying it,) for a video that will be less than 1 minute. We can’t wait to see the final product.

Today my improv team Slinky Says Relax came down from Burlington to debut our improvised musical! It was fairly terrifying but the SPAE audience was so supportive and generous with their laughs. Slinky then did workshops with campers and had an awesome afternoon.

And amidst this we made headway with learning songs, blocking more scenes, and have almost finished props and set pieces!!!
Tomorrow we hope to wrap up blocking… AND Ron is back tomorrow, bring instruments!!! Holy cow, how are we already so close to our show?!

**Don’t forget that on Friday campers stay through until the show at 7pm! We will do a potluck dinner typically families send a dish in with their camper or drop food off in the afternoon no later than 4pm. We thank you so much for this as we’ve found it’s the best way to keep our energy going and the community strong straight through opening night.

**On Saturday the performance is at 4pm but we ask that campers arrive at the Dutton gym at 1pm to celebrate the first performance, (maybe even watch parts of it!!) get in the zone, and get into costume and make-up!)

Don’t forget to look for more photos on FLICKR!

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Today we had a first-time SPAE workshop that BLEW.MY.MIND.
Ian Bigelow joined us to teach Stage Combat. He worked with campers and counselors in two groups for an hour and a half each. They learned a ton of specific attacks and blocks, but they also did exercises in grounding themselves, balance, trust, and the one that made me laugh the most-different ways to fall. It was a blast and he has set us up so well to choreograph our Giant Capture the Flag Battle.


Opposite of the workshops we crammed so much work into such little time. Campers were costumed by Ellie, Alice, Abbie and more. They continued finding and making props, painting sets, paper mache-ing the Minotaur Head and more with Fairen in the workshop. They blocked scenes with the directors and did character work. Susie is teaching songs like nobody’s business. Our Camper-Composers also managed to crank out more tunes for our big Half-Blood Campfire Scene and I look forward to hearing those sung.


In our last 50 minutes of the day I continued plowing through blocking the group number “Be A God.” Campers were patient and mostly focused despite having the lighting-scaffolding rolling around us with stage lights being turned off and on. We have one more Chorus to make it through and that song with all 37 performers will be able to be checked off on our list. Huzzah!

To say goodbye we did the Promenade Tunnel that many of us learned from Andy Davis at the Contradance. It was so silly but also moving. The SPAE family is awesome.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be memorizing lines, blocking, songs, and dances! It’d be great if we had time to do it all at SPAE… but we don’t! We need your help!
if your performer told costumers they’d bring in anything specific from home please have them bring it TOMORROW.
Tomorrow we’ll be joined by my Long-Form Musical Improv Team “Slinky Says Relax” we’ll do a performance and then a workshop on musical improv. Booyah!

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Frisbee (FriSPAE) Week 1: Sarah Grasso, Blocking, Compliment Project, Contradance!

Another welcomed autocorrect.

After a restful weekend I’m feeling anxious to dive back into our great work tomorrow! We have so much to do on this 22-Scene 37-cast member production. In our first week we learned each other’s names, the basics of improv, we auditioned and were cast in our roles, we rapped, we started to learn songs, we danced, we played our instruments, we painted, paper-mached, built things, found costumes, brainstormed ideas for pretty much everything, started to memorize lines, began blocking scenes, found leadership, found cooperation, we collaborated, were nervous, were shy, were motivated, were brave, we laughed a lot, we were surprised, we were curious, we asked and answered questions, we left things unanswered, and most importantly, the pillars of our community were solidly formed.

At the end of the day Friday we experimented with what we called “The Compliment Project.” Campers stood against a big stretch of paper and everyone wrote compliments around them in silence. It was definitely telling about how far our group has come since Monday.

On Friday Night our Contradance was so fantastic, thank you to all who made it. It was a terrific way to wrap up our first week.

Here’s to a fantastic first week of SPAE 2017.
On Monday we’ll have our stage combat workshop which I’ll think we’re all eager for. We’ll start learning more new songs, we’ll continue blocking as fast as we can, we’ll continue to find costumes and props, paints set pieces and scenery, play games and more.
Don’t forget to check out the Flickr Page!

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ThurSPAE Week 1: Blocking, Designing, Building, Painting, Magic.

Today was our first day without a workshop which meant we really needed to dive into blocking. Blocking can be a tedious and even boring process, especially when we’ve got huge groups onstage. However our campers were rockstars throughout the day. Once again we were confined to indoors by the rain but our counselors regrouped well and led games in any nook and cranny they could find in the Dutton Gym.

Campers continue to impress me by including everyone in activities, by taking a risk and choosing a partner they don’t know, by being open-minded to new activities, by being respectful to each other, counselors, and directors. SPAE 2017 is a great group of humans and I know that we will create something awesome together.

We are so impressed with how Nathaniel and Susie have stepped to their roles of Assistant Director. Nathaniel has been blocking scenes and writing lyrics while Susie has been teaching the songs she composed melodies for. They are a rockstar duo and we are so lucky to have them as part of our team.

TOMORROW NIGHT IS THE SPAE CONTRADANCE (6:30-8:30 on the Townshend Common!) Called by the endlessly talented and inspiring Andy Davis!!! That means today we learned/remembered a SPAE favorite called, “Sasha!” (Have your kiddo teach you in advance so you’re ready for that one tomorrow night!)

We ended our day by rapid-fire brainstorming ways to memorize our songs, lines, and blocking. Here are some of the strategies we came up with:
-With a family member reading the other lines (especially the cue line)
-In front of a mirror
-Doing your blocking at the same time
-Reading in your head
-Reading outloud in character
-Writing your lines down
-Recording yourself

“The Lightning Thief” goes up a week from tomorrow (HOLY COW HOLY COW HOLY COW) that means if you haven’t already begun practicing at home, the time has DEFINITELY arrived!
Here’s the link to the Facebook event if you’d like to spread the word to your people that way!

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