Young Actors Develop Creativity at Magic Carpet Theater Summer Camp

Omar signs a camper's t-shirt

Alumnus and actor Omar Benson Miller autographs a camper's T-shirt before attending the July 29 performance of the Magic Carpet Theater's "The Pied Piper." (Photo by Michelle Terris)

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

For the month of July, children ages 5-14 got a chance to express themselves and improve their performance skills at the Magic Carpet Theater, a four-week camp offered by SJSU’s theatre department.

“The whole purpose is to build self-esteem, make new friends, and develop creativity,“ said Professor Buddy Butler, the camp’s artistic director.

According to Butler, the theater strays away from the usual models and puts a twist on the productions.

“We don’t do Disney,” Butler said. “We are multiculturally diverse in the makeup of the staff, the play, and the campers.”

Magic Carpet Theater introduces kids to the basic principles of theater. Classes are offered in acting, dance, voice, and puppetry. The program is broken up into three groups, called acts, according to age.

Three Acts

Act I, ages 5-7, attend half-day classes and work on pieces for their showcase performance, while Act II (ages 8-10) and Act III (ages 11-14) attend full-day classes consisting of more specific acting techniques and a chance to practice their part for their end-of-camp production, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Fourteen-year-old Morgan Thompson, a third-year veteran to the program, will be the Pied Piper.

“The easiest thing about camp is acting in front of all of the friends that you meet,” Morgan said.

Field trips include visits to the Tech Museum and the Puppet Theater at Happy Hollow. Guest artists for the camp include a storyteller, a dance group, and Magic Carpet’s very own staff performing “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Magic Carpet Theater collaborates with King Library’s literacy program, Partners in Reading, which promotes learning through literacy and a love of books. Each year, the camp pulls and reads a story or piece from classic literature.

Past performances include “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Cinderella.” This year’s camp is made up of 34 children, 12 staffers, and 4 counselors, including high school student Patrick Thompson.

“It’s a very good experience in getting to know children and helping them discover what they really believe they want to do when they grow up,” Patrick said.

A Hollywood Visitor

Actor Omar Benson Miller, best known for his work in “CSI: Miami” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,”  will be in “The Pied Piper” audience to support his alma mater’s theater program. Miller recently released to DVD his film, “Gordon Glass,” about an aspiring actor who moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams.

“The Pied Piper” will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Hal Todd Theatre. General admission is $5. #