The LA Opera Camp for kids offered the perfect meaningful end-of-summer experiences for nearly 80 campers this year. And on Aug. 3, those students got the chance to showcase the performance they’d been practicing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: “Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle.”
Over the summer, campers learned about the importance of social justice and civil rights to help inform their performance. The camp engaged kids through music and performance as they traveled to museums across L.A. with a focus on the theme of social justice. Campers met leaders such as actor, teacher and social activist Chaka Forman (son of James Forman, a pioneer in the civil rights movement) and Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African Americans who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. “Getting to hear the real stories from people who lived through the struggles we were performing about made it that much more impactful,” says former camper Victoria Mestas.
Stacy Brightman, vice president of LA Opera Connects, says organizers wanted students to go beyond performance. “It’s our honor, and our responsibility, to help nurture and train these young performers to think bigger than their lines, or music, and to realize what effect they can have on the world,” she says.
LA Opera wove three previous camp productions together, including the stories of “Brundibár,” performed by children imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp; “Friedl,” about a woman who secretly taught art to the children of Terezín; “The White Bird of Poston,” set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and “Then I Stood Up,” reflecting on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to create “Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle.”
Interested in auditioning for the next opera camp cycle? More information can be found at www.laopera.com.