DILLON - A haze of smoke from distant fires and an incessant breeze proved a fitting backdrop for Friday's presentation of "The Hysterical History of the Trojan War" at the Dillon Amphitheatre. Presented by the student actors of the Lake Dillon Youth Workshops, the production was the culmination of two weeks' work by local children. Some were walking the boards for the first time, while others had previous acting experience, but the short play is cleverly constructed so that all of the 21 kids got a good shot at lines and action.
Every summer, the Lake Dillon Theater Company offers this workshop, giving kids from age 7 through 13 the chance to feel what it's like to enter rehearsal, learn lines, get fitted for costumes and have stage makeup applied. Rehearsals for the show are mixed with theatrical exercises, and kids get their first lessons in stagecraft while also getting ready to do a live show in front of an audience.
This year's workshop was directed by Debbie Swartz, and the Trojan War theme worked well for the boys - who enjoyed the swordplay - and the girls, who got to play goddesses and prophets and even some of the heroes (Achilles was portrayed with panache by Mollie Ann Morrow). Borrowing heavily from pop culture, the show includes bits like a song about how the war came about set to the "Brady Bunch" theme and Hector's overly dramatic death scene punctuated by actor Wyatt Cunningham bleating "Rosebud!" with his final breath.
There are Spartans and Trojans, of course, and toga-clad gods and goddesses manipulating the action (via cellphone, no less). Homer himself (Sasha Celico) appears at times, including one bit where he plugs a signing of "The Iliad" after the show. As the unheeded prophet Cassandra, Payton Weinman has a wonderful time foretelling doom throughout the show, at one point crying, "How come nobody ever listens to me?!" Her warnings of lead paint in the Trojan Horse are ignored, and no amount of yelling "Doom on you!" sways the Trojans from their folly.
For the actors, theater camp is another way to pass the summer days while learning and having fun. For Toril Aserlind, who played Hera, lessons about projecting properly so the audience can hear her were mixed enjoying time with friends.
"This is my fourth year doing theater camp and this year I got a bigger role so it's more acting with more lines, which is cool," Aserlind said. "I loved making costumes with my friends."
While Cunningham enjoyed having the part of Hector with all the sword fighting, he said the two weeks leading up to the performance taught him a lot.
"It was a lot different than I thought," he said. "In class you didn't just rehearse lines. We actually played games and did many different exercises."
Starting next week, a whole new group of kids will take on the Trojan War, with another free performance set for July 21 at 10 and 11 a.m. There may still be room for young actors wishing to join in, and you can find out more at www.lakedillontheatre.org
"It's one of my favorite parts of the summer, and I think every kid should come because it is so much fun!" Aserlind said.
What: Lake Dillon Youth Workshops
When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Session 2 is July 9-21 (full); Session 3 is July 23-Aug. 4
Info: www.lakedillontheatre.org or (970) 513-9386