Each summer since 2009, retired Georgia Southern University theater professor Mical Whitaker holds his Jungle Book Camp and the 2016 version is going on this week inside the Averitt Center.
In five days, youngsters build props, make costumes, learn lines and then stage a complete play – “The Jungle Book” – under Whitaker’s direction. Campers not only are introduced to the world of theatre, they also have the chance to learn about the popular children’s story, which includes many life lessons and the importance of solid morals.
More than 40 campers will be part of Friday’s 7 p.m. performance, either onstage or behind the scenes.
Since auditions were held in June, students have the advantage of knowing who their character is and have already been rehearsing their lines.
“All they have to do is get the blocking, staging, costumes, make-up and on Friday, it's show time,” Whitaker said.
This year, 40 campers will participate in the production of the Jungle Book and many of them have grown up in roles over the years and now have leading roles in the play.
“Every year we have veterans from the previous years, so to watch a child who was in the first year maybe a monkey with no lines to eventually rise up to be a ‘Mowgli,’ the leading character, several years later is quite a thrill,” Whitaker said. “For me, it's a personal and private joy.”
All of the campers have a part in the play. The campers go through the entire process of the play production and will even get to make jungle masks.
“The joy is to watch these kids grow up,” Whitaker said. “I wait for the play every summer,”
Tickets – only $5 – can be purchased at www.averittcenterforthearts.org, calling (912) 212-2787, or visiting the Emma Kelly Theater box office in downtown Statesboro. The box office is open today and Friday from noon to 5:30 p.m.