Steamboat Springs Twelve-year-old Ellie Kavanaugh stood backstage wearing a set of peacock feather fairy wings she had spent hours putting together.
Backstage — when performing a play in West Lincoln Park — is just to the left of a tall cottonwood tree.
She stalked into the stage area and assumed the demeanor of the demanding Greek goddess, Hera.
“Zeus, what’s taking so long? I want to go to the Bahamas. I’ve been waiting all day,” she announced.
The play was a comedic take on a traditional Greek myth, penned by two professional actors from New Zealand who, in addition to their roles in this month’s Piknik Theatre Festival, act as counselors for the Kaleidoscope “Let’s Play” camp for local children.
On Wednesday, about 30 children ages 8 to 12 were split up into three groups across the park practicing their original mini-plays to perform for their parents at noon Friday.
In Kavanaugh’s group, her friend Mariah Walker played a domineering Zeus with a handy yellow lightning bolt that she brandished around, yelling, “zap.”
“Zeus, you can be the loudest,” directed counselor Adam Donald. “Really ‘boom’ with that voice.”
Camper Alison Famulare said she’s spent every morning for the past two weeks singing and playing theater games.
“You get to pretend to be a different character, and you get to do your own thing,” she said. “It’s fun to be someone else.”
Across the park, 9-year-old Charlotte Wilson was wrapped in a toga as Aphrodite.
“I like playing the goddess of beauty because I get to put on lipstick, like, every five seconds,” she said. “I made up that part.
“I just like being a part of something.”
The camp is supported by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which also puts on camps for dancing and fine arts.
Susan Whittlesey, Arts Council programs manager, said the enthusiasm of the Kiwi counselors was bringing some of the students out of their shells.
“I think the energy of the teachers mixes perfectly with the Steamboat youths,” she said. “It gives the kids a lot of freedom to be who they are.”
For the counselors, the two-week camp also offered a reminder of why many of them got into acting in the first place.
“It’s the same thing that we get out of it,” said actor Simon Leary about the benefits of the program. “You can get all deep and serious about acting, but really it’s going out there and playing with your mates.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com