Camp dramatics are usually rather simple and informal, making great use of the imagination and ingenuity of the campers in the use of materials found in camp for costumes, props, and scenery. Dramatic efforts will be included in costuming for special events, such as a Gypsy or Paul Bunyan Day when each camper makes his or her own costume, as well as having the fun of making decorations, posters, or invitations for the affair. Creativity and ingenuity are great assets in fashioning all the paraphernalia that makes for good dramatic presentations. Arts and crafts are so much a part of all these activities that it is not possible (or desirable) to separate them. A good craft point of view will add a workmanlike touch to the costume or to the "jewels" of a princess, or to the rags and beard of the old man of the ballad. Good standards of crafts will help to make the costume-making enjoyable and imaginative, but the product will not be cheap, in poor taste, or ludicrous, nor will it come apart at the wrong moment. Good carpentry will assure the staunchness of the scenery, while good art will make it just right for the background.
The making of costumes, scenery, and props may provide an outlet for the shy campers who are not yet ready to take part in the actual play or ballad. The camper with craft skills will find his own place and satisfaction in the costume "wardrobe" or the scenery "wing." Recognition of his contribution will be important, too.
Puppets and masks give an opportunity for another type of expression, especially for the shy camper who can more easily lose himself in another character when he has made that character and speaks his lines for him.
The use of natural materials will be part of the fun, and conservation-wise campers and staff will be careful of what they cut and use, as in all use of natural resources. Sheets and berets, bathrobes and jackets, socks and boots, will also be the basis of costumes. Here again, guidance in good use of such materials will result in well-turned costumes rather than "just something" that looks somewhat like the desired results.
Use of books for dramatic possibilities, and for help in making the costumes, props, and scenery authentic, will provide a different approach to books for many campers. A good library of resource books of stories, ballads, and costumes may well be part of the craft workshop's library. Use of the equipment and material in the craft workshop will link the dramatic activities more closely with arts and crafts, and avoid duplication.
A scrapbook of pictures of costumes and props will be a good project for some group of campers to make and to keep in good order through the years. The photographers may add to the camp record of interesting scenery, costumes, and props with pictures in such a book.
A good supply of materials and equipment with which to fashion the need of the moment will do much to stimulate ingenuity and creativity in dramatic presentations.
Equipment needed: carpentry tools; metalworking tools; poster or powder paints and brushes; enamel paints and brushes; crayons; stapler and staples; needles and thread; twine and cord; household cement; thumbtacks and paper clips; clamps; gummed tape.
Materials needed: big sheets or rolls of paper; paper bags (all sizes); cartons (all sizes); wood or bamboo for braces; nuts, bolts, hinges, screws, nails, and brads; dyes; aluminum foil, tin cans, etc.
A few suggestions of possibilities for props and costumes are shown in Figure XIII-1.
The use of large cardboard cartons will simplify scenery problems. They may be used as boxes, with the scenery fastened on the front; or the boxes may be cut open and spread out for wide pieces of scenery like a Viking ship. Carton cardboard may be used as the base of scenes that are painted on the cardboard, as a rock wall, or may be the base on which paper scenery is pasted or stapled. Sometimes easels will be needed to hold up the castle wall or a house frame. Doorways or the frame of a ship may be nailed to orange crates. Masts and trees may be lashed to tripods. Lashing is a convenient skill to use in making frames and bases for scenery. For more permanent use, and for easy storage, a series of braces can be made with nuts and bolts, with holes drilled in several places for adjustment, and hinged for folding.
Tin cans, size #10, make good candle footlights (Figs. XIII-2g and h). They may be nailed to a board so several may be focused as needed, or they may be single units. A nail in the bottom of the can holds the candle firm. Posts to raise one or two lights may be made from logs and sticks and a board for the platform (Fig. XIII-2 i). Making candles for these lights may add extra interest to the planning; old candle ends or paraffin wax may be used. See Chapter VI (Metalwork) for use of metal tools.
The making of puppets is a craft that adds a new dimension to dramatics. There are many types of puppets, from the simplest hand puppets to marionettes that dance from strings. Planning for a puppet show and making of simple puppets and stages provide a great opportunity for originality and creativeness. Characters from familiar tales and ballads, such as Paul Bunyan and his Ox, Pinnochio, or Young Lochinvar may be portrayed, or campers may create their own plays and characters. Nature legends may be developed, and puppets may be used to tell the history of the camp or to present some of the camp activities in an unusual way at the first night's campfire. The simplest types of hand puppets, such as may be developed for camp-fires, rainy day activities or other short-term projects, are described here.