WedneSPAE Week 1! We hear the story with Voices…

Wednesday is always a high-emotion day. In sticking with SPAE tradition we read the cast list before morning snack. Our campers were incredibly gracefully in receiving their parts, and when we returned from snack and read through the script in our real parts it was SO exciting to really see the pieces falling into place.
“Hey everybody, Let’s Do Burpees!” “Yes let’s!”

Today I led an intro to Improvisation focusing on “Yes, And.” We broke this up into different exercises and called back to activities we’d already done “You? Yes.” and “Yes, Let’s!” Then we planned parties, parades, and more with a partner. Each time one person was in charge of providing the ideas. The first round their partner had to respond with “No because___” and explain why the idea wouldn’t work. Then they’d switch and the partner had to respond “No but____” and provide an alternative plan, (still denying their partner, but maybe it’s less harsh?) the third round the partner had to respond “Yes, and____” and add something to the idea. And in the final round both partners were giving ideas and responding with “HECK YES and___”

The idea of going along with the reality that your scene partner creates is crucial to improv, and in general, I think it’s our natural instinct to want to say yes to people. Campers found it challenging to continue shooting down their partners ideas-around the room the feedback was echoes of:

“They had really cool ideas and I wanted to say yes to them!”

While some of us reunited with Charity for Song-Writing Part 2, the rest of of went outside to learn a few short-form improv games.

Later, we began BLOCKING THE SHOW! (Blocking is when directors give the actors their stage directions. At SPAE we really stress writing down our blocking-which we learned how to do yesterday- so that campers don’t forget what we’ve done.)
While not blocking campers began work painting sets and props, Jesse designed our sign for the front of the building, multiple characters began getting costumed, the Greek Chorus started pow-wowing to design their costumes/identities, AND MORE!!!

We were so thankful for the beautiful weather today, let’s hope it sticks around!

Don’t forget- our FLICKR page has more photos!

**Don’t forget, the 3rd SPAE CONTRA DANCE is THIS Friday from 6:30-8:30 on the Townshend common. BRING EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!! ($5 suggested donation to help offset the cost of the amazing band!)

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TueSPAE Week 1! Dance, Sets, Song Writing, Instrument-Playing, AUDITIONS!

Holy Cow. This was perhaps the busiest Tuesday in SPAE history. Today we had 4 different workshops led by incredible rockstars.

In the morning Fairen (our very own Counselor) led a set design workshop and campers have begun to build a mini set in a shoe box.

Also in the morning we were graced with the pretense of Local Dance-Legend Sarah Grasso. This is her 3rd year at SPAE and every year our minds are blown. We’ll see her again Friday to continue learning the dance that will close out the show as a final celebration at Camp Half-Blood.

And of course, this morning…we had AUDITIONS. As a director I’ve always found that SPAE auditions are one of the most exciting parts of the two weeks because you finally know for sure that the show will be so totally fantastic because your cast is full of unique and brave performers…but it’s also a heartbreaking part because you know you can’t cast everyone in their first choice role.
Susie, Nathaniel, Emily, Abby, and I spent 2+ hours after camp working through so many possible combinations and permutations of the script. What we’ve assembled will totally rock. We can’t wait to get started.

In the afternoon our Counselors stepped up to lead Script-Marking workshops where we learned how and where to write in our blocking, blocking shorthand (ask your kids to teach you!) and what exactly to highlight to help memorization.

Charity came to lead a song-writing workshop with interested campers. The end-goal is to write two of the songs that will be included in our production. But Charity is sharing so much about the process of song writing, and the difference between writing music for yourself and for a production. She began the workshop by asking campers to share their favorite song and speak or sing a few of their favorite lines. Later they split up and started getting lines down on paper. After only a few minutes they came back and already had work to sing! Make sure to check out a tiny video clip on the Facebook page. 
Charity will be back tomorrow and we can.not.wait.
Our SPAE favorite Ron Kelley joined us and we took out our instruments, (some of us for the first time all summer…) and we learned stuff by ear!!! Cool Cool Cool! We’ll practice more this week, but Ron will join us again next week to add the instrument piece to what will be happening on stage…the Transition to Hades’ Underworld!

Woah. I hope everyone catches their breath tonight. Tomorrow will be undoubtedly exciting. We’re even going to start blocking the show… oh man oh man oh man!

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MonSPAE (Moonscape) Week 1!!!

I had to leave that “MonSPAE” autocorrect for your enjoyment.

We’re off and running! We had a wonderful first day of SPAE!


One of the most important parts of the first day of SPAE is laying down what our group thinks it takes to build a community. This year, we made a video of our thoughts.

Oh Mighty Zeus,
Send Down Upon Me
A Camera.

We spent a while today working on getting everyone’s names down. Each camper said their name while doing a motion and we all repeated. Then we had to send it around to different people in the circle by doing our own motion, then theirs. I wonder if we’ll still remember our motions at the end of the week… maybe even next week?

During our warm-up Emily taught us two tongue twisters to start practicing,
“Surely the sun shall shine soon” (which, like, yes please.)
and “You know New York, you need New York you know you need unique New York.” Teach them to your family!

A good chunk of the afternoon was dedicated to reading the rough draft of the script. It is long…and not a very rewarding process-but every camper was a total rockstar, and we all made it through the story.

TOMORROW- we have a CRAZY day. In the morning we’ll have a set workshop led by Fairen, a dance workshop led by Sarah Grasso (wear comfortable clothing,) and AUDITIONS!
Remember- auditions are not meant to be stressful. You’ll be with at least 9 other campers reading scenes just like today when we read through the script. Huzzah! Think about your top 4 character choices.
In the afternoon we are so excited to welcome Ron Kelley out of retirement (that he’s been in for about a month now,) to create instrumental music with us for the UNDERWORLD! Don’t forget instruments tomorrow! Read that bracelet!
And we’re quaking in our boots with excitement for our song writing workshop with Charity Houghton tomorrow. Still time to decide if you would like to participate. It’s gonna be a busy day. Bring extra snacks!

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SPAE 2017 Counselor Orientation!

Yes yes yes!
We’ve begun!!!
Today 8 Counselors, 2 Assistant Directors, and 3 Directors came together to GET PUMPED! We set up our space, played games, made up games, talked about how to build a community for the best year of SPAE yet, and did our best to try to unravel what it is that makes SPAE so awesome.

More pictures on our Flickr Page!
This is an incredible team, and I was blown away by their insight. Total rockstars.

We cannot wait to see the SPAE 2017 Campers tomorrow at 9am! BadabingBadaboom!


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The 2017 Counselors!

Introducing the SPAE 2017 Counselors!

Fairen Stark- 3rd Year
Madison Chase- 2nd Year
Trey Crego- 2nd Year
Ellie Longo- 2nd Year
Nic Tolbert- 1st Year
Julia Assogba-Slowik- 1st Year
Alice Coyne-1st Year
Abbie Hazelton-1st Year

Here are some of our favorite things these counselors said in their application letters.

A SPAE Counselor-
Has to be enthusiastic, go into everyday with a positive attitude, an open mind and a smile on their face ready to work.”

“Walks a fine line between forming strong connections with campers but also being someone they can look up to and listen to.”

“Brings some special skill and/or trait to the table that can/will complement someone else’s skills/traits and ensure that everyone can feel invited and will enjoy their time at the camp.”

“Could identify with new students and could help them find new friends and develop the confidence to find more.”

“An amazing program that shows kids what they are capable of and what makes them unique. Also, that it is a safe and comfortable community that will always help you.”

“Every year I am blown away by what our beautiful little community can accomplish.”

“It’s a great way to have fun and take yourself out of your comfort zone in a safe place where you learn about community.”

“[It’s] full of fun and games as well as bringing a story to life.”

“It’s probably one of the coolest things you can do over the summer, getting to put on a “mask” and portray someone else’s life or event in their life is just SUPER cool”

“A person can blossom, and [make] unique friends they will never forget.”

We’re gearing up to work with the great team at our
Counselor Orientation on July 23rd! Huzzah!

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SPAE 10 SPAE 10 SPAE 10! Counselor APP

Hey Folks!

It’s time!!! We’re gearing up for the 10th Year of Leland and Gray’s Summer Performing Arts Explorations! Can you believe it? Interested in working at SPAE this year? Click here to read about the role of a SPAE Counselor.

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Counselor Grant! Look at that charm.

Here’s this year’s counselor application.

Counselor Application

July 23-August 5, 2017

Dear Leland and Gray Summer Performing Arts Explorations Counselor applicant,

We, the SPAE staff are SO excited at the prospect of adding you to our terrific team this summer-for the BEST SUMMER OF SPAE YET! The role of the Counselor has evolved greatly over the past 9 years of SPAE and we are thrilled to be able to continue this opportunity for high schoolers in our community. Counselors are involved with SPAE in a wide variety of ways. The directors work to place you in areas highlighting your strengths while providing you with opportunities to grow in all areas of the arts.

We’d like you to write us a letter about why you think you should be a Counselor In Training at SPAE. While there is no length requirement for the letter we are looking for you to really describe to us why this job is important to you. That most likely means you will need to write more than one sentence for each item. At the minimum, be sure that your letter addresses the following items:

  1. Why would you make a great Counselor at SPAE and what does that job entail?

  2. If you were trying to get a 5th-8th grader to take part in SPAE how would you describe the program to them, and why would you want them to be a part?

  3. It’s the end of the first week of SPAE, the campers have found other people they feel most comfortable with and seem to be sticking only with those people. What are some strategies for YOU to take the lead and mix up social groups at SPAE?

  4. What’s something you’ve become interested in the past year and are excited about? (Literally anything, we’re just curious.)

  5. What are you proud of? Send us a video, photo, audio file, writing submission or other media showing us what you love to do. This can be uploaded to google drive and shared if the file is too large for email.

  6. Hey! Have any ideas for this year’s show? (Think about your favorite stories and if they could be put on the stage!)

**Community Service: We are SO excited about Leland and Gray’s new community service requirement for graduation. We are working to find out if some of your SPAE hours can count towards that, and then you can be paid for the remaining hours! We’ll keep you posted!

Please address your letters to Abby, Emily, and Karlie and email to by May 1st (due to a competitive pool of applicants no late letters will be accepted.)

Thank you!

Your SPAE team of Directors,

Abby, Karlie, and Emily

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ThurSPAE2: Stumble and Run Through!

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Holy cow. We made it through! We didn’t finish until 3:05… but we made it through!
I don’t have many photos to share with you today because the directors were fully employed for every moment of the whole day. You’ll have to use your imagination.


-We ALL stay through until the show. We will set up our Potluck Dinner at 4pm so please send something to share in with your camper in the morning or make a delivery at 4! Thank you so much in advance for helping to feed our community as we get amped to give you a terrific performance!

-We still need Flashlights! We have 2!!! They WILL get back to you! Tape+Name!

-The show starts at 7 the doors open at 6:30, be sure to tell your friends and family! Admission in by donation and this money goes towards paying our amazing staff of counselors. Share the Facebook Event!


-Call for Campers is at 1pm. A good lunch and a restful morning are keys to success. Don’t forget that it’s Hospital Fair Day in Townshend that day-plan accordingly!

-The show is at 4 and doors open at 3:30!

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