Performing arts camp set to take the stage
One hot summer night in 2016, Jen Holland and India Jordan-Meesig sat on a porch in Cleveland Heights, tossing out ideas for how they could create accessible programming for all Heights kids. Two years later, the Heights Performing Arts Camp (HPAC), a three-week theater program for 24 CH-UH students, will culminate in a performance on Aug. 4 at the Alma Theater in Cain Park, at 4 p.m.
Holland is no stranger to community building, having served as the president of the PTA Council for CH-UH schools for the past two years, as well as being a member of Building Rox at Roxboro Elementary School. She brought a number of community stakeholders together to create the camp.
Children from every school in CH-UH are invited to attend this free camp, which is run on donations.
Building Rox members Lance Godard, Holland and Jordan-Meesig approached Celeste Cosentino and Ian Hinz of Ensemble Theatre to pitch the idea of a camp. Cosentino and Hinz enthusiastically embraced the idea, and were able to take the vision provided by Building Rox and give it a structure and a home at Ensemble Theatre.
“Ensemble has always thought it was important that there be an educational component to our programming," Cosentino said. "The partnership with Building Rox and Building Heights ended up a perfect fit.”
Together, they approached Lake Erie Ink (LEI), housed, with Ensemble Theatre, at the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus, to provide writing instruction and guidance to the students. Last year, the kids voted on science fiction and fantasy as their overarching genre. LEI helped them craft storylines, which also somehow managed to tie this genre back into the lives and experiences of each of the campers.
This year, the camp's second, it has doubled in size. Like last year, the organizers are hopeful that they will once again have 100 percent parent participation at the scheduled meet-and-greet. “We have participation from the Greater Cleveland Film Commission's Antonio Harper, a graduate of Heights High school, and others, including Peter Lawson Jones and Cheryl Stephens," Holland said. "We use this meet-and-greet to get to know the participants, but also to help them understand that this is big."
"The Heights play a key role in the Greater Cleveland arts scene," Cosentino said. "We have some amazingly talented and creative young people in our community, and we want to give them an experience they will remember. We want Ensemble and Coventry to become an anchor in the community. The organizations we are partnering with and the Heights Performing Arts Camp are a true cross section of Cleveland Heights. We’ve grown so much just after our first summer, and we hope to continue to expand and offer a very unique opportunity for CH-UH school district kids and Cleveland Heights residents.”
While the camp has met its funding goals this year, thanks to several generous donations, it is accepting contibutions for the 2019 camp, with hopes that the camp can touch even more kids. For more information, visit www.ensembletheatrecle.org/youngactorsworkshops.
Kate Bergman has been a resident of Cleveland Heights for 22 years, having moved here when she came for graduate school. She and her husband have two children, ages 14 and 10.