Another Opening, Another Show
This issue, focused on the outdoors, is the perfect place to unveil the most daring aspect of the upcoming CAMP Rehoboth theatrical production in June: it will be performed outside in the CAMP Rehoboth Courtyard!
The production, which will comprise two one-act comedies by Pittsburgh playwright F.J. Hartland, kicks off CAMP Rehoboth Theatre Company’s sixth season. Show dates for the two one-acts, Auto Erotic Misadventure and Ponce de Leon is Dead, are June 23, 24, and 25.
Directed by Russell Stiles, the show will make special use of the courtyard (weather-permitting) between 37 and 39 Baltimore Avenue in what is sure to be one of CAMP’s most innovative productions yet. (If the weather fails to cooperate, performances will be held in the Elkins-Archibald Atrium.)
Pushing the envelope like this and bringing unique perspectives forward help set CAMP Rehoboth Theatre Company apart from other local performing arts. “Our purpose, keeping in line with the CAMP Rehoboth mission statement, is promoting artistic expressions, creative thinking, giving aid to artists, and emphasizing the works of the LGBTQ community,” said Stiles.
The season’s upcoming productions—Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche (September) and Burgerz (February 2023)—also center LGBTQ voices and stories. Stiles notes that this season’s shows are the most diverse ever performed by the company, in terms of subject matter, genre, and the issues facing the entire LGBTQ community.
The June one-acts will run for 30-35 minutes each, with an intermission in between. The first one-act, Auto Erotic Misadventure, follows three roommates that confront the confusion of living together: Cliff is into macrame, Brandon is a DC call boy, and Norma just wants to be held. Drama and hilarity ensue.
The second, Ponce de Leon is Dead, follows another entwined trio. Giselle is a rich Florida widow looking for companionship. JD is a poor male stripper. Vaughn, Giselle’s hard-working CEO son, is trying to protect the family fortune. The comic pursuit of love is never ending.
Moving outdoors isn’t the only new aspect of the upcoming show. For the first time, shows will be signed by a local ASL interpreter, making these performances fully accessible to community members who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Stiles notes that bringing theatre outside does present challenges. “You might have a plane flying overhead or you might have the next-door neighbor’s dog barking during a very serious scene. You never know—the mosquitoes might show up! But I think if we drink enough wine and enter into it with good spirit and good cheer, we’ll be fine.”
There are just a few logistical challenges, too. After all, the courtyard typically provides seating for Lori’s Café. So, after the café closes on each performance date, the theater company will be pushing tables away and setting the performance area: a rolling stage with a backdrop, 75 chairs, and a screen divider that will block off the sidewalk. Plus, a little bar area will be set up to provide beverages.
The timing is great: how better to celebrate the arrival of summer than to provide comedy for the last week of Pride month? “We really need it. I’m glad we’re doing something for our community, the CAMP family,” said Stiles.
The history of CAMP Rehoboth theatre has always brought a sense of camaraderie and familial bonds. Before the current iteration of the theatre program, performing arts enjoyed a storied history at CAMP Rehoboth. And before that, there were the CAMP Follies, as Fay Jacobs recounts on page 14.
Stiles, under the influence of his late friend, Bob Hoffer, started directing shows for CAMP Rehoboth beginning with 2017’s Stop Kiss by Diana Son. “We support all the other community theaters. I volunteer and direct at some of the local theaters, but I really feel at home here at CAMP Rehoboth. It’s been a perfect match,” said Stiles. “Also, we’re able to bring in people who don’t have a lot of theater experience, maybe for their first show. That’s been a real joy as well.”
One such example is Gwen Osborne, who recently played the lead role, Sugar, in November 2021’s production, Tiny Beautiful Things. Osborne will play the role of Giselle in Ponce de Leon is Dead. For Osborne, performing at CAMP Rehoboth is a thrill. “I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone and do something that is benefiting the people who are in the audience,” said Osborne.
Moreover, the connection with audiences excites Osborne. “I love to make them laugh or cry or think about different situations. It’s so rewarding to have that live audience, and it’ll be really exciting to bring that connection outside for the first time.”
Tickets to the June shows are $20 and support CAMP Rehoboth’s mission. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit camprehoboth.com. ▼
Matty Brown is the Operations Administrator at CAMP Rehoboth and Editorial Associate for Letters.