Receiving numerous standing ovations after its premiere, one of the most anticipated comedic debuts of this year’s Sundance Film Festival is the mockumentary “Theatre Camp.” Directed by “Shiva Baby” star Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman and starring Gordon alongside his best friend Ben Platt, the comedy was warmly received by critics (and nabbed by Searchlight). IndieWire’s Kate Erbland made it a reviewer’s pick, writing that “early comparisons to ‘Waiting for Guffman’ without the bite are deadly”, and calling the film “an audience delight for the misfit in all of us” .
Platt, Gordon and Lieberman joined cast members Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison and Owen Thiele at the IndieWire studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, to discuss the inspiration for the project.
“Theatre has been intrinsic to a lot of sensibilities,” Platt said. “So we have the ability to love it so deeply that we can send it and have a lot of fun with it and roast it pretty hard.”
Having all met at drama camp or doing productions, much of the core creative team consider themselves theater kids.
“It’s definitely a love letter to this kind of experience, and the intensity of those three weeks of summer where nothing matters except who your friends are and what this world is and this moment is, and maybe adults who want to stay in this world, forever,” Lieberman added. “And that’s a love letter, but there’s also you know, especially in the theater world, we have jokes to make about how the theater world works.”
Gordon and Platt play two counselors left in charge of summer production when their camp director suddenly falls into a coma. Although they drew inspiration from wacky former acting teachers, both insist they have a deep love and respect for their mentors.
“We dedicated the film to all of our drama teachers, even though we make fun of them,” Gordon said. “Because when they tell you to do crazy things, it’s that first moment of feeling seen. I’ve never been so good in school, and when I was in my acting classes, anything was possible. and there was no wrong answer. That first moment where you can really own your intelligence, even if they ask you to crawl like a lion or whatever.
“Theater Camp” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.