Last summer, theater camp, like everything else, was a bunch of squares on a Zoom screen. Theater campers dealt with ensemble performances that featured technical glitches and lag times. This year? Well, virtual is still an option for those not quite ready to step outside. But most of the camps listed here are live and on-site.
For in-person sessions, all camps are following CDC, state and local guidelines for COVID safety, including social distancing, masks and enhanced cleaning methods. None of that will detract from the thrill of live classes, workshops and performances.
Between its large, shady, camp-like setting, its LA history and its array of in-person and online programs, Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon leads the list. The theater’s Young People (drama games and character creations tied to Commedia Dell’arte, stage combat, Shakespeare and Elizabethan dance for ages 5-7) Youth (Shakespeare Youth Drama Camp for ages 8-13) and Teen (Summer Shakespeare Intensive for ages 14-18) groups are meeting in-person and online for summer classes. The emphasis is on Shakespeare, theatre, and poetry, with the goal of inspiring a lifelong relationship with language, history, and art. Virtual versions of several of the programs are also planned, as well as a virtual playwriting class, Theater for Change, for students entering grades 7-12. All sessions end with a closing celebration.
Shakespeare Youth Festival
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area at 4100 S. La Cienega Blvd. is the location for the Shakespeare Youth Festival’s in-person programs, for kids in grades 2-8. There’s Shakespeare in Nature, exploring ties to nature in the Bard’s works, and Shakespeare and Music, incorporating ballet, opera, and musical theater compositions inspired by Shakespeare’s works. Online offerings allow exploration of mythology and magic Shakespeare-style online and even a playwriting program where kids can write and direct their own short play.
Kids on Stage
KOS’s performing arts educators are conducting virtual classes as well as in-person sessions for kids ages 4-15 at Clover Park in Santa Monica. Productions include Hamilton, Mamma Mia, Annie, Mary Poppins, Once on This Island and Oklahoma! For $30-$55, take a sample class. See the wide range of offerings here.
Los Angeles Theatre Academy
Located near Dodger Stadium at the Elysian Amphitheatre, the LA Theatre Academy will be outdoors this summer. The emphasis is on theater, including acting and scenes, with a healthy dose of singing, dance, art, hiking and yoga. Classes are bilingual (English/Spanish). Available in weekly increments, LATA is a nonprofit so tuition is tax-deductible. For schedule and details, click here.
Act-1 Academy for Children’s Theatre
Act-1 Academy requires auditions to be cast in a show, but the camp is open to students ages 9 and up at all levels of experience. This summer’s production is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in person. Classes and camps beyond the production have not yet posted but can be found here.
Summer Acting Camp
This is the 24th year of Summer Acting Camp on the campus of La Cañada High School in La Cañada/Flintridge. A restructured, outdoor program reaches kids ages 5-15. Multiple daily classes include acting, improv, magic, musical theatre, movement and stagecraft; there are different weekly performance themes.
Performing Arts Workshops
Performing Arts Workshops has offered summer camp and after school programs for 30 years. This summer, the company is virtual only and offers a slew of online programs for kids ages 5-14 from singing, acting, dance and magic to theatrical makeup, cheerleading and debate. PAW is offering $150 grants to any child affected by COVID, to cover half the tuition for a week of online camp. For more information, click here.
New York Film Academy
As its name suggests, New York Film Academy in Burbank offers programs for budding filmmakers, screenwriters, animators and documentarians. It also has a musical theater offering at its LA campus and online for teens (ages 14-17) and kids (10-13). For more information on summer programs, click here.
Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts
YADA, as the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts is known, has been around for 23 years and offers classes for students ages 3-17. There are two locations, Third Street Theatre at 8115 W. Third Street and Studio City. Both offer two-week camps with a musical production (The Descendants and High School Musical, both from Disney). There are also single-week programs with improv, rock and a “fun pass” for classes in multiple categories. For more information, click here.
Upstage Theatre Schools
In-person summer camp will take place at Upstage’s multiple locations, complementing online programs. At the Westwood campus, Summer 2021 musical productions are Frozen, Hamilton, Mamma Mia, The Greatest Showman and The Sound of Music. All productions culminate in two performances. Ages range from 5-14. For more information, click here.
The Groundlings offer lively five-day teen improv camps and one-day teen drop-ins via Zoom. Kids ages 10-18 explore character work, improvisation and acting through a variety of fun games and improv exercises. Each class has up to 12 students. On the last day of a teen improv camp, parents and friends are invited to join the class online and observe the final 30 minutes. For more information, click here.
Beachwood Children’s Theatre Co.
A perennial local children’s theater group run by an LAUSD teacher, Beachwood Children’s Theatre Co. won’t be reopening until Fall 2021. Check the website at the end of August for information about fall programs.
In addition to camps, Los Angeles is home to numerous acting schools for children. Here are a few offering classes on show biz subjects from auditioning to character development.
- The Young Actor’s Studio – Offering online acting classes and a summer program for three age groups from 8-18 in North Hollywood.
- The Playground – Acting programs for kids ages 6-12 and teens 13-17, as well as a summer program and online classes.
- Margie Haber Studio – Currently online only. Watch the video here and send an email for more information.
- Young Actors Space – Currently online only. Check out class offerings here.