I recall the first show that I saw at CRB. There was one ineffective spotlight held together by the operator as he/she tried to light up the actor on stage. With all the lights on, there were few areas that were lit on stage. Performers held corded or cordless handheld mics that they passed to each other when they had finished saying the lines that were written on their hands. Sets were painted paper taped to the back wall. Nothing made sense. The chanichim lay on the floor talking and playing games until one of their friends was on stage and then would scream and drown out that chanich.
2011 began a reformation in the performing arts at CRB. We now call the performing arts department Hofa’ah. This includes dance, music, theatre and A/V. There have been physical changes, staffing changes and programming changes during the past six years.
Although Beit Am Bet might look the same from the outside, inside is much different. There are permanent functional theatrical systems in place. Technically; there has been a new grid built to support the lighting instruments (2/3 of the package in place) and soft goods (curtains), a sound system with wireless body mics, towers with working spotlights, two huge fans, new house lights, a working trap door, side exit to the stage and entrance to the alcove, a dressing room and costume storage below. Props, flats and set pieces are stored in a new shed out back.
Hofa’ah consists of song-leaders, dance teachers/choreographers, instrumental music teachers, drama specialists/directors, musical director, stage manager, A/V specialists, set designer/builder, and a costume designer.
We are seeing a resurgence of chanichim being involved with the plays. The Shorashim/Tzeirim play had close to 50 performers and 30 stage crew. Around camp, chanichim are writing music, and creating dances. There is even a small group of chanichim, self-initiated, who are learning technical theatre and helping run the shows (sound/lights/sets).
Shows are dual-edot to allow for less pressure, higher quality and bonding between groups. The shows are all bilingual, allowing for all campers to engage more fully in the experience as actors and audience. The structure of the zimriyah has been updated. Tarbut (literally culture – in camp terms folk dance and song leading) is being overhauled to engage participants in authentic experiential education.
We work inter-departmentally as much as possible. Song-leaders often will visit overnight camp-outs, guitar/ukulele/drums in hand. Songwriting will have chanichim write and teach their edah new tunes for tefillot. Drama will write and record a murder mystery radio show. Costumes are borrowed for other events, there are live dance/music performances every Kabalat Shabbat and you should hear the makaylah!