Youth at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Silver Spring, Md., are real troupers. As members of Tent Troupe--advertised as America's only traveling summer tent theater--around 18 youth spend a month on the road as a "family," performing popular plays that have a moral or Christian message.
A typical day begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends around midnight. And the youth do everything. They set up tents, the stage, lights and props before the show. They perform and even do laundry and make meals. At each stop on the tour, churches provide suitable showgrounds (minimum size, 150-by-200 feet), publicity, dinner and a place to shower.
In return the troupe gives two performances during its one-day visit--a children's matinee and a dramatic presentation in the evening. Past plays have included Where the Lilies Bloom, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Miracle Worker.
But the youths' commitment to Tent Troupe begins long before the tour starts in June. Rehearsals start in April. It takes more than 2,500 hours for rehearsals and to get the equipment ready to travel. The group also must raise two-thirds of its budget before it goes on the road. Day-to-day expenses are financed by donations collected at performances.
Since its start in 1970, the troupe has visited 28 states and Canada, has appeared in more than 320 communities and has touched the lives of nearly 250,000 people.
Want to know more?
For more information about Tent Troupe, contact Roney Shawe, director, at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 9100 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, MD 20910-1694, (301) 588-4363; or look up the church's home page at www.his.com/~stluke. 1998 tour dates will be set for June and July, with exact dates and sites determined by late September.
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