Both my boys are grown men now, but I do remember a summer when they went to camp at the Lexington Children’s Theatre and became immersed in the play “Tikki Tikki Tembo.” We would get up very early in the morning so I could drive them from Frankfort to Lexington before work. My sister, who lives in Lexington, would pick them up from the theater in the afternoons, and then I would bring them home in the evenings.
Since this was almost 20 years ago, my memory fails me when it comes to exact logistical details. But the experience for me and my children is fondly remembered. In a period of two weeks, I heard lines being read and recited over and over again with that familiar chant — “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.” When it came time for performance, I think I was more impressed with the way the program worked than with my boys’ performances.
First, when you went in the theater there were no chairs. Carpeted risers were the norm and it put adults on the same level as children. Also, every child got a chance to participate and every child was a star. Of course, I thought my boys were the best. But I’m sure every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle in the audience was made to feel that their child was the best also. I was so amazed that a full-scale production could be put together in such a short time.
Let me be clear, I did not sign my kids up for this because I thought they had great potential to be the next Johnny Depp or Russell Crowe. I wanted to give them something to do and let them see what live theater is about. But most of all, I just wanted them to have fun. Mission accomplished!
I’m quite sure that the Lexington Children’s Theater can still do that for your children this summer. I just checked their website and Summer Theatre School 2013 still has two sessions before summer ends.
Not near Lexington? The Kentucky Arts Council has put together a list of summer arts activities for kids across the state. Check it out at: http://artscouncil.ky.gov/Resources/pdf/KAPSummerPrograms2013.pdf.
Beware! If you send your kids to theater camp, you might just find yourself 20 years later reciting some ridiculous lines from a children’s play and not remembering the context at all. I’m just saying…
Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.
Note: Lexington Children’s Theatre celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and is the oldest continuously running children’s theater in the nation. It is also the 2013 recipient of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts Education Award.
Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director