MISSOULA — Under normal circumstances, Missoula Children’s Theater would spend its summer on the road, hosting theater camps, and producing full-length productions.
But, this year MCT is re-imagining what it means to bring accessible theater to our youth. Last week, the organization hosted a replacement camp for some of the action they've missed out on this year. With new health protocol like checking temperatures and COVID symptoms before entering the building, they're confident they're following CDC guidelines and still offering a unique theatrical experience.
"With the little guys, we've taken picture books, like beloved picture books, and turned them into plays where the kids have lines or maybe they're acting out different emotions from the book," said Katie Farrell the Missoula Children's Theater Executive Assistant.
These new “bonus camps” are quite different from a typical summer’s programming, but they're still teaching kids the importance of the arts.
MCT has capped registration numbers, eliminated props, costumes, and even audiences.
For actors Gabriel "Socky" Fickinger and Sophie Juin Meaux, performing under these circumstances presents some challenges.
"It’s really hard for us right now, and wearing a mask is challenging because if you have to run or stuff it’s hard to catch your breath," said Meaux.
But one of the things they’re learning at camp, and will inevitably use in the classroom when they head back to school, is how to overcome an obstacle like expressing yourself underneath a face covering.
"You need to just be loud, have big expressions, things like that," said Fickinger.
From the outside, a theater camp without all of the bells and whistles seems unconventional, but within the organization's mission statement of providing accessible theater, it actually makes perfect sense.
"Right now, if this is what accessibility means, then this is what it means. We're just going to do what we can to stick to our original goals of making sure that we can bring a wonderful, beautiful, theatrical experience to our community," said Farrell.
For kids around Missoula, MCT is proving that just because we’re navigating unprecedented times, doesn't mean they have to hit pause on their interests and passions.
"Theater’s been around forever, and it's gonna stick around, and we’re really glad the kids are here," said Farrell.