MAT expands summer youth theater camps

By John Paul Schmidt, Havre Daily News, June 2, 2015

The Montana Actors' Theater KidsMAT youth camps have been bringing local children to the stage for almost 20 years and are now expanding across north-central Montana.

"It's evolved as it's gone along," said Jay Pyette, the artistic director of MAT.

Chinook, Chester, Hays, Great Falls and Malta will all be able to enroll their youth in the camps and Havre is getting another camp for a total of two due to the high demand for the program every year.

Pyette said the youth acting camps are more like workshops than camps. The camps last four days long from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and culminate in a production open to the public on the final day.

"It's for the kids to learn and grow," Pyette said. "It's not necessarily about the end production. The main focus is for the kids to learn stuff and, of course, to have fun."

When a youth takes part in the camp, he or she works with others to write and develop their own, original show. The camp starts on a Monday and ends Thursday, when the youth perform their play in front of family and friends.

"Usually the camp gets about 40 participants, which is why we decided to go for another camp," Pyette said, adding that they are getting sponsorship from the other town's businesses and they are excited to be able to hold the camps outside of Havre.

Also new to this year's youth camps is the Young Professionals program, which brings recent graduates of college to help run the camps and productions. This year, there are four graduates from Concordia College here to run the camps. They will also be helping the youth production of "Dracula."

"This is something we want to do every year ... ," Pyette said. "It gives them a chance to get a little bit of professional experience on their resume."

The camp is $45 per youth and $25 for each additional child in the family. The production at the end of the camp, at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Pyette said there is no set age limit for the camp. They usually see children 5 to 13, but if older kids want to be involved, they can be.

Those wanting to register may do so by picking up a registration form from Angie's Wildflowers, Bear Paw Meats, The Computer Center or the Havre City Pool, or they may register online at http://www.mtactors.com.

The Havre camps will be June 8 to 11 and July 6 to 9 at the Little Theatre at Montana State University-Northern.

Chinook's will be June 15 to 18 at the Chinook High School Auditorium. Hays' wills be June 22 to 25 tentatively at the Hays Community Center. Malta's will be from July 13-16 at the Malta High School. Chester's will be July 27 to 30 at the C/J-I High School. Great Falls' will be Aug. 10 to 13 at the MAT Theatre at 111 Central Avenue.

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