At the end of your time at SMTD many seniors choose to show off their skills and talents in a senior thesis. This weekend I had the chance to see such a performance. The Grown-Ups written by Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques is the directorial senior thesis of SMTD student Leah Block. It’s a two act play that follows five camp counselors as they navigate their friendships with each other, their collective and individual pasts, and their role as counselors. The play is a comedy, and while it does cover more serious topics in act two, it generally keeps that tone throughout.
One of the first things I noticed about the performance was how the space was arranged. The audience surrounded the stage, which consisted of a small circle of lawn chairs on a blanket. Everyone in the audience was seated in a chair on the floor too, and it made the space feel like being at camp. I could totally imagine being in the woods and watching this while sitting on some kind of makeshift chair (maybe something like a tree stump).
The plot mainly centers around Cassie’s experience as a new counselor at the camp. Mostly consisting of her struggles to fit in and gain acceptance from the other counselors, many of whom have been coming to camp since they were children themselves. The use of props and costumes is another thing that I really enjoyed about the play, and Cassie’s gradual acceptance could be tracked through her accumulation of stickers, camp paraphernalia, and camp specific acronyms.
Another aspect of the plot relies on the counselors abilities to shield the campers from a heated debate online, which made me think about how weird and strangely isolating summer camp is in general. Who thought it was a good idea to entrust a large group of kids to a small group of people barely not kids themselves? The play touched on this concept many times, and it was made all the more entertaining by the increasing severity of the conflict in the outside world.
Overall I really enjoyed the chance to see The Grown-Ups. I always really enjoy the opportunity to see productions by other SMTD students, but I found this one particularly funny, and a uniquely versatile setting and concept.
Picture from The School of Music, Theatre & Dance events website.