Play time at Jabberwocky
It's dinnertime at Camp Jabberwocky. Two campers who usually travel by wheelchair, walk in to the dining hall assisted by their counselors. Their fellow campers celebrate the entrance with an enthusiastic ovation and cries of joyful support.
Campers take turns addressing the dining hall with stories and accomplishment from their day; some campers perform songs. Each one is met with warm applause and hearty approval.
Before the meal is served, the campers join voices to sing "One (Singular Sensation)," a song from the Jabberwocky production of "A Chorus Line," which is being performed this Friday and Saturday at the Jabberwocky Studio.
"People come into the play with certain expectations," said Faith Carter, who has been a camper for 35 years. "We surprise them, and once they're surprised, they really enjoy it. This year we're all auditioning to become members of Jabberwocky's "A Chorus Line."
Ms. Carter's sentiment is echoed by Nancy Connelly, who forms her sentences by pointing to words and letters that are laid out on a board. Sometimes she quickly pinpoints words; at other times she deftly targets strings of individual letters to spell words out. "I like plays because you can be anyone," communicates Ms. Connely. "When I tell people at home that I dance onstage, they look at me funny. Most people put me in a box of what I should be. The play lets me show what I can really do. If people give us a chance we can surprise them."
Camp Jabberwocky provides an inclusive and supportive environment for children and adults who have cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Helen Lamb started the camp 56 years ago in a summer cottage in Oak Bluffs. It has grown to be an integral part of the Island's summer community. Each year, Camp Jabberwocky puts on a play that packs their studio to capacity.
"Everyone loves the play, but it's a lot of work and requires a lot of patience," counselor Kristen "Sully" St. Amour says. "Some campers produce their own scenes. We make it a team effort to put the play together. Campers help make costumes and props. Both nights it's completely open to the public."
Even with the challenges, campers also look forward to the play. "The play allows us to be more creative than we're allowed to be in everyday society," said Ms. Carter. "Here, there are no boxes. If you try your best, people appreciate it. Camp plays are a good outlet. There's room for a lot of different types of expression. The hope is that it opens up a new level of appreciation for individuality. If everyone was the same, it would be boring."