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Theatre Aspen Apprentice Blog: Education Apprentice Abaigeal O’Donnell

June 15, 2018

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Education Apprentice Abaigeal O'Donnell poses with students in Theatre Aspen's summer educaiton programs.

Splinters, Snacks, and Seatbelts at Theatre Camp

by Abaigeal O’Donnell, Education Apprentice

My experience in theatre started at camp. Since I typically hid in the corner during dodgeball and my friendship bracelet making skills were iffy, a switch to a new theatre camp offered by the park district was the perfect opportunity for me to get out of the sticky heat and into a sweaty gymnasium.  

While I don’t remember much about the camp play, I do remember playing a guard and wearing a metal helmet that fell off on stage. This was the start of many “whoops” moments I would have in my young theatrical career. The embarrassing onstage catastrophes ranged from falling on my face onstage to performing in Cinderella with pink eye. Despite the fiascos, I kept coming back for more. And here I am, back at theatre camp, for the 14th summer. This time I’m working as a teacher for Theatre Aspen’s summer education programs.

As we wrap up our first week of programming, I feel so grateful for the excellent teaching artists I have had in my life. With limited resources and lots of caffeine, they inspired me to strive to be an excellent artist and educator. On a day when our students were feeling tired, a student asked me how I have so much energy. I said, “because I work at it,” and it’s true. I do not magically wake up throwing handfuls of glitter and radiating sunshine. If I did that would be awesome, but instead I drink coffee and try to do my best.

I am absolutely delighted to be teaching at Theatre Aspen this summer. Crafting engaging, fun, and silly experiences for these students has been a blast. Throughout this first week, we have all been tested, but the small moments of companionship and collaboration the students have built make every challenge worth it. The “tiny humans” I have met so far are incredible and hilarious. Providing the spark for their outstanding creative voices means the world to me.

This first week has been full of challenges I never could have anticipated. In just five days, I have removed splinters, fixed someone’s braces wires, and put on band aids. I have opened food wrappers, put on seatbelts, and distributed Goldfish. More importantly I have taught, I have learned, and I am growing.

We have had ups and downs, turn it all arounds, zip zap zops, and bop to the tops. And now we’re going to do it all over again. Let’s get ready for week 2!