Building Confidence through Comedy
The Jokesters, Camp Center Stage Teaching Artists
The Jokesters, Steve Bauer and Marianne Wittelsberger, are professionally trained in the fine arts of mime, clowning, magic, makeup, and costume design. They have been performing for audiences across the U.S. since 1983, including eight Command Performances at the White House and a Royal Command Performance for the King of Saudi Arabia. They have been teaching mime, comedy, and clowning at Camp Center Stage for the past six years. “The Jokesters bring more than just great physical theater techniques: they also bring a sense of play, precision, and discipline,” says Education Coordinator Kristina Szilagyi. “And who doesn’t love to learn a good fake hair pull?”
We asked The Jokesters to share some of their teaching highlights with us—here’s what they had to say.
Tell us about what you teach at Camp CS.
In our classes at Camp Center Stage, we introduce the students to the art of mime, comedy, and clowning, teach them basic techniques, and help them grow as visual performers through movement and self-expression. Like dance, the art of mime takes years of training and hours of rigorous practice to master. But working as an ensemble, the students learn how to be a “playwright mime” and a “performer mime.” The techniques learned in class are the building blocks for a final ensemble piece that the students write and perform on the final day of camp.
Did you go to anything like Camp CS as a young person that sparked your love of theater?
Marianne: I wish there had been a camp like this when I was a kid! As a child I took art lessons, but I hadn't discovered theater yet.
Steve: I never had the opportunity to go to theater camp, but wish I had been able to learn from teachers like the ones at Camp Center Stage.
What is it like to watch the students grow in confidence throughout the two-week session?
It is amazing to watch the growth of our students during the camp session. Mime and physical comedy is not an easy skill to learn in two weeks. I am really proud when a student has that "AH HA!" moment, when they get a technique we have been practicing for two weeks. We have many students who have been coming to camp for years, and each year they get better and better. Last year, a group of campers came to me and said, "We have already written and cast our mime piece. Can we please go rehearse it now?" That just blew me away!
The Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Education Center is a new addition to BCS. How will this space improve the Camp CS experience even further?
It is exciting to have a dedicated space just for education. In past years, we were placed in various spaces all over the building, which posed certain challenges. This will finally give us a place we can call home!
What should parents who are considering sending their child to camp this summer know about the program?
We have worked at other camps and Camp Center Stage is by far our favorite place to teach. What makes it unique is the love and support the campers get from the staff and faculty, who are professional artists that genuinely care about each child and their experience. Camp Center Stage is a safe environment for children of all ages to write, direct, and star in a creative place that promotes individual growth and encourages collaboration. Whether your child wants to be a Broadway star or just wants to have fun, the wonderful people of Camp Center Stage will nurture and inspire their dreams!