'Chip & Jack' open new theater camp for kids in Alexandria

Alexandria Area High School drama teacher and a former student collaborate to teach acting technique, character creation and other skills.

Jessica Chipman

Two well-known figures in the Alexandria theater world are offering a summer theater camp for kids.

Jessica Chipman, the drama teacher at Alexandria Area High School, and Alex graduate Jackson Grove have scheduled the four-day camp for Grades 5-12 from Monday to Thursday, June 14 to 17.

Under Chipman's direction, high school performances have repeatedly scored top marks at state-level competitions. Grove, a 2018 graduate, has choreographed multiple high school performances, participated in the national Jimmy Awards and landed an understudy role in a 2019 Ordway Theatre production. He graduated May 9 from the Boston Conservatory. Chipman has been working on a master's degree.

Grove, who plans to move to New York City to audition for shows, said he hopes the camp will repeat in future summers.

"I knew I wanted to use this summer to give back to my community and train young artists," he said. "I always want to return to the Alexandria community."


Called Chip & Jack's Theatre School, the camp will cover acting and movement technique, character creation, theater games and improvisation, devised playmaking, scene work, audition best practices, and teambuilding. Grades 5-8 will meet 9 a.m.-noon, and Grades 9-12 will meet 1-4:30 p.m.

The dates coincide with the Andria Theatre's youth production of "Grease," which includes 29 youth ages 15-Grade 12, but Andria executive director Ann Hermes said that shouldn't pose a conflict because rehearsals will be over by then and the productions take place in the evening.

"I would love for them to do both," Grove said.

The Andria is handling its youth programs differently this year because of COVID. It eliminated the educational aspect, which teaches students everything from how to run a theater to acting skills, and is instead only doing rehearsals and performances. The Andria is offering "Aladdin Jr." for students ages 11 to 14 starting later in June.

"Good for them and good for the kids in this community," Hermes said. "I wish them the best of the luck and I'm excited for the youth."

Having alternatives is important for kids not cut out for sports or other extracurricular activities, Hermes said. During one Andria youth program, a boy reassured his mom when she came to pick him up.

"See mom? Now I have friends," he told her, Hermes recounted.


Jackson Grove

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