Riverside Playmaker Project

Riverside’s Playmaking Project is inspired by the 52nd Street Project from Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. Founded in 1981, The Project brings children together with adult theatre-makers and is designed (in fact, it is encouraged) to be replicated in other communities across the country. The goal of our project is best summed up by the original founders:

“the project is about making children proud of themselves. The project is not about teaching children to act, although they will learn to. It is not about teaching them to write plays, although they will learn that as well. What it is about is giving a kid an experience of success. It is about giving a kid an opportunity to prove that he or she has something of value to offer, something that comes from within that they alone possess, something that cannot be taken away.”

Summer Riverside Playmaker Camp Description

Riverside Theatre is thrilled to offer this incredible playwriting experience over the summer in a two week camp.  Early on these students will work with local playwrights and teaching artists to help develop their very own plays. Once each student has written their own play, they will have the opportunity to meet with and “interview” actors who will take their words and bring them to life on stage. The Summer Playmaker Project will also include the opportunity to learn about lights, set design, costumes, and everything else that goes into bringing a play to life.  The finished plays will enjoy a two-day run on the Riverside Theatre mainstage. 



  • Camp each day will be held at Riverside Theatre in the lobby and the theatre


  • Dates: Camp runs Monday-Friday for two weeks, July 15th – 26th
  • Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
    • This summer we are also offering an extension opportunity for families that need a little more time. Morning extension starts at 7:45am. Afternoon extension lasts until 5:15pm.
  • Performances: The official performance of student plays by professional actors will be Friday, July 26th at 6:30pm and Saturday, July 27th at 10am.  Tickets will be available to anyone in the community and cost $10 for adults and $2 for students.


  • Campers: The program will be open to students entering 4th grade through those entering 7th. The camp will be capped at 16 students total. 

Important Info:

  • Cost: Tuition for the two weeks is $650 (or $325 per week). Each student will receive a Riverside t-shirt and 2 complimentary tickets to final performances. Tuition must be paid in full by the start of camp. Families are welcome to pay in full when registering or pay a deposit and finalize tuition closer to camp. Scholarships are also available. 
  • Scholarships:  Riverside is committed to making opportunities available to all students. if the cost is a barrier, please contact Kathleen@riversidetheatre.org Thanks to the generous support of Hills Bank, we are able to offer a variety of scholarship options. 
  • Food: Riverside will provide two snacks each day. Students will be responsible for bringing their own lunch.
  • Accessibility: Riverside Theatre is fully accessible with elevator access to 3rd Floor


About the Lead Instructor

Kathleen Johnson is Riverside’s Director of Outreach & Education. She has been teaching improv, theatre arts, and communication throughout the midwest for the past 15 years. She attended Notre Dame University and earned her BA in Theatre and English. She went on to earn her Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of Iowa. She studied improv from performers at Second City Improv, Improv Olympic, and Huge Improv Theatre, has performed on short form and long form improv troupes, coached adult improv teams, and has led dozens of improv classes and corporate improv workshops.