The Empress Theatre is excited for the return of youth day camps after a three-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We noticed that the kids get very excited because they’re coming back, and they have their favorite camp,” says theatre director Margaret Ann Bianco. “then they keep coming back, and they will form friendships with other children.”.

The first youth camp will begin July 17 and the last concludes Aug. 25 at Fort Macleod, and everything in between promises fun and excitement. Campers will learn, among other things, the art of performing, and they will have an opportunity to create short vignettes.

Bianco notes that following the three-year break, she is seeing a new generation of campers.

“This year, we’re seeing a whole new set of campers come in with the same kind of enthusiasm. So, we’re hoping that those campers stay and keep coming back year after year until they transition out. And then it starts with the younger kids coming in again.” 

Registration for Empress theatre camps is open and available at or by phone at 403-553-4404 (toll-free, 1-800-540-9229). Bianco says the campers come from all around Alberta, and they gain new friendships within the camp.

“We have campers from Lethbridge and Claresholm, as well as as far as Calgary. Some children come up and visit their grandparents, and then they come for a camp. So all of the kids form the friendships that they look forward to each year.”

Empress theatre camps are for ages 6 to 17, and prices range from $50 to $125, depending on the type of program.

Bianco says youth who attended previous camps put on a production of Romeo and Juliet, and she was so impressed with the skills they had developed from those summer camps.

“They are now putting on a full production of Romeo and Juliet, you know, as Shakespeare would have done it, so there was nothing modernized about it. And there they were on the stage, and I just felt so proud knowing that they many of them had gone to our camps already.” 

The Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, built in 1912, is one of the oldest operating theatres in Canada, and it’s camps are helping make a huge impact on the children who attend.

“It just builds their confidence, for one, and even their acting skills.”

By Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 26, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta

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