Let’s Get Physical: Synetic Theater’s Summer Camp

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This article is written in partnership with Synetic Theater.

Since 1996, children and families throughout Northern Virginia area and the DMV have delighted in Synetic Theater’s Summer CampsThese camps offer fun, friends, and arts-based movement experiences that culminate in performance fit for the stage. 

Here, Synetic Camp Director Ashton Schaffer–himself a one-time Synetic camper and today a professional teaching artist and playwright–shares a bit about what makes Synetic Summer Camps special.

Synetic Theater's Summer Camps

Synetic Theater is known as one of America’s preeminent Physical Theaters. What is Physical Theater and why is it well suited to kids and adults?

Physical Theater is the art of wordless storytelling, musical theater or dance theater. It incorporates acting, movement, dance, mime, and acrobatics to tell a story. If you’ve ever seen Cirque du Soleil, Dance Theatre of Harlem, or Slava’s Snowshow, you’ll find many similarities. 

What’s cool about movement theater is that it’s highly accessible—we all have bodies and we all communicate through physical language! Even young children understand how to communicate emotions, create characters, and bring ideas to life through movement. 

Parents that grew up as “theater kids” might immediately understand what a theater camp is all about. But for those that are new to the theater world, what do they need to know? Do their children need theater experience, a headshot, and a resume? Do kids need to audition for this summer camp?

No prior theater experience is necessary and no headshots required! Kids just need to show up to camp with a desire to have fun, be creative, and get moving! We do have advanced programs that are geared to students with prior experience and a well-developed skill set, but camps are fun first.

Synetic Theater's Summer CampsMost first-time Synetic campers are new to the performing arts, and our teaching artists are well-versed in teaching students of all levels. One of the best parts of Synetic is the sense of community. In my opinion, we do a great job of cultivating a place where all campers and their families feel like they belong. 

For those coming to theater for the first time, it might be helpful to think of our work as creative play or collaborative storytelling that is both fun and skill-building. Just like our kids learn teamwork and strategy on the soccer field or on the debate team, kids and teens can gain these life skills and more through theatre

What types of kids thrive in Synetic Camps?

It may seem obvious, but people of all ages need outlets for their physical and mental energy. Summer is the time for trying new things, informal learning, and making friends. Synetic offers all of this and more, with age-appropriate camp sessions for elementary-aged kids, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. 

Many of the students who enjoy Synetic Theater’s Summer Camps the most are curious problem-solvers or kids that benefit from high levels of physical activity. And while we have many students who enjoy the spotlight, some of our proudest moments are with campers who are shy or tentative, but blossom when they’re given the chance to express themselves through movement. 

Synetic Theater's Summer CampsEvery year, we hear about parents who missed camp enrollment deadlines or just couldn’t line up family summer plans with camp schedules. It’s already June. Is it too late?

There is still time to enroll in Synetic’s summer camps, and we accept registrations throughout the summer. The first sessions start June 20 and 27, with new sessions starting every 1- 2 weeks. 

Camp sessions are 1, 2, and 3 weeks long, which gives many families the flexibility to plan other activities and it gives students  a relatively low-commitment chance to try out physical theater!

What’s in store for campers this year?

Students work with Synetic’s professional team of teaching artists to create and learn a play written for them! Each session ends in a performance for their families.

This year, campers will explore the upside-down world of Kingston Valley and all the wacky things that have ensued, in our two-week camp entitled Peculiar Things. While this play is based on a popular streaming show, the camp will be anything but scary—abounding with 80’s-inspired jokes and music. 

Synetic Theater's Summer Camps

Looking for a one-week camp experience to cool off after an encounter with strange creatures? Look no further than Foiled Fables. In this camp, students work to create and re-imagine their favorite fairy tale stories and bring them to life. Will Cinderella be wearing Vans, or will the Big Bad Wolf finally join that support group? Anything is possible!

Our three-week High School Conservatory is an opportunity for teenage artists to create and perform their own adaptation of Titanic in the Synetic style.

Synetic Theater’s Summer Camps are open for enrollment now, and enrollment will continue throughout the summer until all camps are full. Camp sessions are 1, 2, and 3 weeks long, with new camps beginning throughout June, July, and August. Visit https://synetictheater.org/camps/ or email [email protected] for more information. Find Synetic Theater on Facebook and Instagram too!

Synetic Theater's Summer Camps

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Courtney was born and raised in Louisiana where she met her husband (married in 2005). Since then they have moved several times, but finally feel very settled in NW DC after moving back a little over two years ago. She has four energetic kids: Cormac (2010), Evangeline (2013), and Solomon (2016), and Antoinette (2019). She thinks motherhood is absolutely wonderful, but she is constantly challenged and stretched in ways she couldn't have imagined. She spends her days talking Star Wars, legos, playing dress-up, and chasing her toddler. We all know motherhood is challenging so she wanted to band together with other mothers to start this site to inspire, learn, and grow together. She loves morning coffee, chocolate, chatting with people since she's an extrovert, a clean house (which is rare these days). She dislikes when her kids don't listen the first time, she abhors littering, and doesn't enjoy shopping. 

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