Directing and acting in a play is meant to be fun for school kids, friends and the neighborhood posse. Our Happy Parenting dad was inspired to help the creative process when “what should have been a truly relaxing and enjoyable morning” at his daughter’s school play, ended in tears and frustration for children and parents alike.
As a child I distinctly recall being relentless in insisting my parents watch me and my cousins sing, dance and act and my kids are exactly the same. Please enjoy these excellent easy to implement tips from Patrick Gibson, to help you & the kids experience the drama with fun, laughter and pleasure.
Bringing the Stage Home- tips on how to put on a small home or school play
Want to channel over-energetic kids at home or in the classroom energy? Nothing will do it better than a play or musical. Think ‘Cinderella’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but also think beyond. Get older kids interested in one of Shakespeare’s comedies, such as ‘As You like It’ or ‘The Tempest’, adapted to modern times, or encourage them to write their own script! The idea is to let the kids have fun, and nothing makes kids happier than dressing up as the characters they know and love.
4 tips to help you get started:
1. Basic preparation
You could make the home play a holiday project for kids at home. It will give them something to collectively engage in –they could invite their friends and the neighborhood children to join in.
Run the play in your backyard, and invite the kids’ parents over to watch. A small school play is something that you can put on in the classroom. The basics will remain the same as for plays you put on at home, but you may need to get creative with the props (if there are any) depending on how much space you have.
2. Delegating roles
As the parent or teacher, you could play the role of the director if the kids are too small and consider, delegating the role to one of the responsible children for older kids. It will help to create a sense of responsibility. The other roles can be decided through mini auditions, or simply ask the kids what roles they want to play. Draw lots and make the process egalitarian to make sure none of the kids feel left out. You can assign roles for stage preparation, prop preparation, an MC or even a narrator.
3. Setting up the scenery and costumes
Work with the kids to decide how best to represent the characters they are playing. Characters can be portrayed simply with masks or other recognizable items of clothing. Peter Pan, for instance, could wear a green cap and carry a homemade bow and arrow. If you have artist groups near you, you can rent entire costumes if this is within your budget.
Comb through thrift stores and garage sales for items of clothing that will work well in the play. Contact family and friends for pieces that can be used on the stage and remember to invite them along to watch. A great way to get the kids engaged is to have them create their own costumes. You could assign the role of designing costumes to a few of them.
You may also need to set up audio equipment for the final day. Instead of having the kids get involved with dangerous electrical wires and equipment, it’s best to have professionals (or volunteer one of the parents with the skills) take care of this for you.
4. Directing the Play and Acting
Directors typically decide how best to interpret the script and generally take charge of how the play will look. You can also have your school’s theatre group give the kids some acting tips, to bring the best out of them.
The small play is all about having fun. Choose a script that all the kids will enjoy and give them enough leeway to interpret their characters as they like. Remember to monitor them to make sure things don’t get chaotic.
Remember, have fun & good luck!