Irene C. Edmonds was a local visionary and cultural catalyst who believed deeply in the power of theater to change and broaden children’s lives. As a FAMU professor, she established the Creative Children’s Theatre in 1948 and directed it for 12 years. Her legacy lives on in FAMU’s youth theater summer camp named in her honor, and for the past 20 years, hundreds of campers have benefited from their experience.
Fourteen-year-old Iman Baker is one of them. This marks her eighth year as an “ICE” camper, and she keeps coming back because she enjoys the process of putting a show together.
Every year, a group performance caps off the camp, but this year’s production, celebrating the 20th anniversary, included camp alumni, many of them now adults. Iman shared that “it feels good to be part of a show like this, it’s an honor.” Edmonds developed eight guiding principles that have become the overarching philosophy for the five-week program. Like the campers before her, Iman is committed to professionalism, decorum, discipline, responsibility, collaboration, commitment, tradition, and respect for the art of theater. She explained that “we take that and we follow it, not just at ICE camp but at schooland home. I use them every day.”
Matthew Cooper, 9, is also a veteran camper and he felt the significance of this special anniversary year. “I’m pretty emotional,” he shared. “Yesterday we watched some of our past shows and I started crying. It makes me want to keep coming back so I can be part of it again and again.” Though hesitant at first, in his three years as a camper, Matthew has delved into the craft with enthusiasm and a sense of humor.
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