FREE RESOURCES: Directing Tips [ Page 6 ]
Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
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It's All About the Experience
It’s all about letting kids explore their imaginations

Maybe you know a kid who shies away from the experience of performing in a play because or she is afraid of the responsibility of learning lines, standing up straight and looking good before an audience.  As director you may be primarily concerned with teaching everyone where to stand, when to come in and making sure they keep their faces toward the audience.

But at ArtReach we believe that kids need a chance to perform, act out and pretend.  It’s time to use funny voices, walk like crazy people, scream and laugh and dance like nobody’s looking.   As director you feel you must keep control of your cast and be concerned with whether or not the audience can see the action.  But since these are kids, just getting their feet wet, it’s quite all right to let them test their wings – and fall – if they have to.  What if Captain Hook isn’t the best you’ve ever seen?  What if the audience isn’t exactly thrilled with the performance?

What matters is the child performer has a chance to experience Captain Hook, try on the clothes, hobble on the peg leg and enjoy being something they never dreamt of.  Give them roots and wings – the confidence to try something new and a safe place to land if they don’t exactly fly.

Failure doesn’t need to be pointed out or even worried about.  It just isn’t part of the experience.  Giving kids a chance to have fun and feel free to explore something outside of the ordinary – that’s what it’s all about. 

Give yourself the freedom to value the process over product – and you’ll have the time of your life!


Emperors New Clothes Jazzes it Up with an Orchestra
Add creative fun with percussion instruments

Danny Da Drum, Zella Bella, Horatio Hornblower, Ting-A-Ling, Tim Whistle and Huey Kazooie.  What do these characters have in common?  They are the members of a fun and silly orchestra for ArtReach’s play THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES.

Raid the music room!  Look for kazoos, triangles, drums, chimes, tambourines, rhythm sticks, slide whistles, bells, cymbals and anything that makes noise!  Bring these to your first rehearsal and ask the kids to play with them during scenes to see if they enhance the performance.  Show your cast an example:  Peter rams his head against the castle door to open it.  Use the cymbal for the crash and then a slide whistle as Peter circles his head around, dizzy from the crash.  Ask them to think of similar sounds for other moments throughout the play such as the Empress’ entrance, Peter’s travels etc.  Set aside a little time each rehearsal session to review ideas for sounds and decide which will be included in the play.

Jazzing it up for the Emperor!

Campanile Center for the Arts, Manocqua WI - Orchestra

The script for EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES calls for the storytellers to also be the music/sound makers, but you may apply this idea to any of the ArtReach plays.  Even if storytellers don’t stay stationary at the percussion stand, they may carry small instruments in their pockets or on chains around their necks.  You can also eliminate literal props by having the orchestra make the sounds such as sawing, creaking hinges, a blacksmith’s tapping etc.

Example: Here’s a trick I used often.  When your Prince Charming hero enters have him smile big.  Have someone "ting” a triangle at just that moment.  It seems to make your hero’s teeth glint in the sunlight.  It never fails to get a laugh and establishes your hero as a super good-guy.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, ALICE IN WONDERLAND and LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW are great scripts for percussion instruments but the idea may applied to any play with narrators.


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