This article offers an empathetic ethnographic study of amateur musical theatre at several girls’ non-Orthodox, private, Jewish summer camps in Maine, USA. Dating from the early 1900s, these summer camps always included theatre in their activities and required all of the girls, aged seven to 15, to participate, the same as sports or swimming. This article recounts the history of weekly ‘bunk shows’ and then charts the contemporary production and reception practices, detailing moments of rehearsal and performance. Seen not simply as an amateur pastime, the article proposes that musical theatre at girls’ summer camps forms experienced, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic spectators and supports the continuation of professional theatre. The article argues that musical theatre also contributes to individual girls’ development, group cooperation, and consolidates the summer camp’s gendered and ethnic identity. At the same time, it interrogates how the performance of a weekly musical is embedded in countless summer camp rituals, all of which re-perform and re-assert the summer camp’s value and values.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts