Kids Act Out On Campus

With painted faces, the children learn to imitate animals as part of the theater camp.

The sounds of children – ranging in age from preschool to high school – echoed in the halls of the Gunther Trades building on June 6. The kids prance like cats, buzz like wasps and explore aspects of theater like historical acting styles and set production.

The second annual Noorda Theater Summer Camp runs from June 6 to July 1, and provides about 200 Utah Valley children with opportunities to explore and develop communication and acting skills, as well as build confidence.

Lisa Thurman, a senior in the theatrical arts department, crawls on the floor pretending to drink water like a cat, while half-a-dozen second-graders follow suit. “It was hard to see myself as a theater major at first,” Thurman said. “But now it’s hard to imagine anything else.” Thurman explained that during the summer camp the staff teach the children but learn from them as well. “We as adults tend to shy away from sharing everything that’s going on inside us, whereas kids are an open book. That’s really exciting for us in theater because we try to go back to that state,” Thurman said.

The theme of this year’s camp is ‘Creating Courage.’ According to Newman, the vision of the camp is “not to create the next generation of Broadway kids, but to help children develop confidence and courage in being able to communicate with other people, in order to be successful in life.”

The Noorda Theater, tucked away on the north end of campus adjacent to the Gunther Trades building, is “one of our undiscovered treasures,” said John Newman, Director of the Noorda Regional Theater Center for Children and Youth and professor in the Theater Arts Department.

Funded by a donation from Tye Noorda, the Noorda Theater was recognized in 2010 by the American Institute of Architects as one five buildings in Utah given the top honor for excellence in architectural design.

“It is one of our most important links to the community. By offering children’s theater productions here we’re starting to bring the rest of the community to the campus and make ourselves a more integral part of the community,” Newman said.

Kids move around the room in an exercise that teaches not only about movement but also spatial awareness.

Community isn’t the only thing the Noorda brings together. Faculty and students from the theatrical arts, dance, digital media, history and communication departments comprise the 56 member team that staff the summer camp.

Two productions will be performed as crowning projects of the camp: The Egypt Game, and Romeo & Juliet: Together (and alive!) at Last. Performances will show in the Noorda Theater June 29-30, and July 1.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


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