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Arts Clayton camp comes to a close

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After two weeks of training local students in the visual and performing arts, the 2008 Kaleidoscope Summer Art Camp, hosted by Arts Clayton, came to a close.

However, before parting ways, all of the camp's participants performed in "The Big Bad Musical," a courtroom comedy in which the "Big Bad Wolf" from the fairly tale, "The Three Little Pigs," stands on trail for his actions.

On Friday morning, all 120 students enrolled in this year's camp participated in a dress rehearsal for the play, which was performed the same evening for parents and local officials at Lee Street Elementary in Jonesboro.

The greatest challenge of the play, said Felicia Franklin-Warner, Art Camp director, was making sure all 120 students feel like stars.

"There is no play in the world that has 120 individual parts," said Franklin-Warner. "I try to make sure that every kid is seen."

Students ranging from preschool ages to high school participated in the play, with 40 of the 120 students serving in acting roles. Other students played dancers, singers, and even as newsmen, photographing the event for posterity.

During a run-through of "I Got Nothin' to Say," the Big Bad Wolf howls and tells the judge and jury that he's a "vegan" and could in no way be capable of breaking and entering with the intent to gobble up the Three Little Pigs. The dancers on stage struck poses and seconded the wolf's refusal to speak further on the subject.

Kurt Reynolds, a rising sophomore at Lovejoy High School, starred in the play as the Big Bad Wolf. Having participated in arts camps in the county for seven years and with the Kaleidoscope Summer Art Camp for four years, he credited the program for giving him confidence and exposure.

"I knew I could sing, but it taught me discipline ... It gave me self esteem," said Reynolds. "I've gotten experience and it's gotten me noticed. I've made a couple of really good connections."

Reynolds said the "structure" of the camp is positive and brings many people back to the camp long after they have finished.

In conjunction with the play, the students put on an art show featuring nearly 100 paintings, three-dimensional art works, and sculptures produced by the students over the course of two weeks. The students had only 10 hours to put together the play and another 10 hours to put together the art show.

Robert Bunda, an art teacher at Church Street Elementary School in Riverdale, served as an instructor and an art judge. He said the fact that students are pushed to pursue visual and performance art during the camp brings out their creativity.

"The best thing is that the kids are forced to work in the performing arts and visual arts, because it takes a lot of them out of their comfort zone. There's definitely a high level of creativity ... one seems to play off the other."

Sara Cookson, program and event coordinator for Arts Clayton, said the camp shows students that, "they can accomplish an awful lot in a short amount of time.

"We hope this is a stepping stone for the kids to pursue other opportunities in the arts all year round," said Cookson.