Claire Hooper – School Camp

By Elyce PhillipsClaire Hooper - School Camp

We all remember things differently. Some of us might like to think we have near photographic memories, but we can never be certain we’re recalling things exactly as they happened. We have a tendency to twist our personal histories into something that’s more palatable. In School Camp, Claire Hooper digs deep into her memories of those trips away, sharing stories of sexual awakening and teenage awkwardness, and teasing out the fact from the fiction.

After the birth of her daughter, Hooper realized that she needed to start being more open and honest about the uncomfortable things in life. In order to do this, she began to dig back into her memories of the most defining moments of her childhood, and now presents them to an audience in all their gawky, excruciating glory. Hooper does a magnificent job of capturing the awkwardness of youth. Many of her stories have that weird, dark underbelly that we tend to forget is part of childhood – kids can do some pretty messed up stuff. Her tales are stark and honest, full of the imperfections and voids that come with remembering. They are stories that we can all relate to. During a part about Hooper’s school camp experience on a high ropes course, I was transported back to my own embarrassing camp experience of being slowly winched down, too scared to step onto the tightrope. It’s this relatability that makes School Camp so hilarious. We can all look back on our crap, awkward times as a kid and laugh.

School Camp opens with a scary story and ends with a scary story of a different kind.  The show has serious undertones and at the heart of it lies a difficult message about the importance of remembering things. The shift in tone is a little jarring, but Hooper handles the material well. The show is cleverly composed, striking a unique tone that perfectly encapsulates those early teenage years. Much like being at a school camp, Hooper will  have you giggling away in the darkness.

Claire Hooper – School Camp is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 19