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Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
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ZOOM: Kids & Schools Get Creative During Coronavirus Crises >

This page (Page #1) has creative ideas for directing a fun, successful play or musical.  Check out these examples: Zoom Tips, A Thousand Cranes, Alice in Wonderland, Sleepy Hollow, Christmas Wizard of Oz, Robin Hood, Amelia Earhart.  Don’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain many other ideas and inspirations!

Kids Get Creative During Coronavirus Crises
Examples of How Some Schools Safely Presented ArtReach Plays

Presented as a Voice Over Semi-Animation

Thunder Ridge High School
Idaho Falls, ID
Jose Loera, Director/Editor

On July 10th, 2020 at 6:30pm we were able to have our opening (and closing) of this production to the public. We did this at Thunder Ridge High School (thanks to Mrs. Jorden Cammack, drama teacher). Learn more...

Watch the YouTube Video

"Well... all things began to shut down starting about mid-March 2020 because of Covid-19.  We had already been looking into the play A Thousand Cranes and this voice-over method seemed like it would work! So we did it! :). "
Director Jose Loera, Thunder Ridge High School, Idaho Falls, ID

Presented as a Zoom Online Video Conference

Arvada Center for the Arts
Arvada, CO
Sammie Harroun, Eniia Seymore, Directors

This production was put on by the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities in Colorado, performed by students aged 6-9, and rehearsed and performed entirely over the internet!

Watch the YouTube Video

"Welcome to our all Zoom production of The Little Mermaid.
Please enjoy this foray into the virtual world of theatre with us!"
Arvada Center for the Arts, Arvada, CO

Adapted and Presented as a "Pandemic Podcast"

The Woodlands UMC Middle School
The Woodlands, TX
Katie Lindsey, Drama Teacher

Join us as we go on a perilous journey beyond the kingdom walls in search of two brave adventurers and their dragon. Could carrots really be the cure to this pandemic? This is Quarantine Confessions.

Hear the Online Podcast

"This was so much fun to make with my students. It helped take our minds off the terrible news that we keep hearing and it gave us a creative outlet that allowed us to produce something truly special together."
Katie Lindsey, The Woodlands UMC Middle School, The Woodlands, TX


Virtual Performance & Learning from Herberger Young Scholars Academy, ASU
A Thousand Cranes Offers A World of Ideas for Students, Excellent for Zoom!

 "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world." -- Sadako Sasaki
Drawing for Sadako Story

Director's Notes from -- Sabrina Switzer-Wareing:  In the theatre action reveals character. This is no less true in the real world. What we do helps to define and to inspire us. "A Thousand Cranes" is a moving artistic representation of this thought. The play tells the true story of Sadako Sasaki, who was just two years old when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. 

"Action is eloquence . . ." - William Shakespeare
Student performance for Sadako Origami used in Performance Online virtual performance of A Thousand Cranes
A Thousand Cranes - Herberger Young Scholars Academy, ASU, AZ

Ten years later she faced the echo of the bomb's effects with determination and courage. Her hopeful actions and perseverance in the face of personal adversity are particularly resonant of late.  -- Sabrina Switzer-Wareing.

"It was beautiful, and all the more haunting because of the quarantine." 
Zoom student performance of A Thousand Cranes Drummer in student performance of Sadako
By Kathryn Schultz Miller, Presented by Special Arrangement with ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays.

HYSA Thespian Society, Chapter 7850 of the International Thespian Society!  Established the Fall of 2012, the Troupe is a Gold Honor Rank Troupe of the Arizona Thespian Society, the Region I Chapter of the International Thespian Society and the Educational Theatre Association. Resilience:  "Change is a given.  How we respond to it -- that is what we can control."  This production was rehearsed and performed online in the spring of 2020:  "Behind the Scenes" 

Audience Comments: "That was beautiful!"
 Student poster for Sadako Paper Cranes Desrgned Poster by Young Performers Student poster contest for A Thousand Cranes
Poster designed by Herberger Students for the production of ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes

The review are in!  "A Thousand Cranes", Virtual Performance, is a success! 

"The performance was so lovely!"

"Very artistic on so many levels."

"I'm in tears."

"What a fantastic performance & creative way to create the experience virtually."
Students perform Sadako Sasaki  Young Performer in A Thousand Paper Cranes
A Thousand Cranes - Herberger Young Scholars Academy, ASU, AZ

"It was beautiful, and all the more haunting because of the quarantine. The fact that they were each alone, connected by the cranes made the story all the more poignant."

"Amazing job on Paper Cranes! I don't understand how you guys pulled that off so well on ZOOM!"

"Loved the play! The medium worked wonderfully well! Everyone was brilliant! Music was evocative. The "sets" really worked."

"The play was outstanding...I loved the charcoal transitions!"  

"The play was beautiful, sad and powerful.  I cried. I cannot imagine the amount of work it took to offer this as a zoom production. Congratulations on a wonderful performance."

"What an amazing performance!!! It was PHENOMENAL!"

"I was so impressed by the performances, art, singing and instruments."

"Thank you for putting so much time and effort into this production. It really paid off and was lovely to watch."

Check the Recycling Bin for Fun Ideas
Use Junk and Recycled Stuff for a Fun, Unique Show

You can make your job as director easier by enlisting the help of the kids in your cast.  A great way to do this is to have the kids design and provide their own costumes.  Not only does this lift the burden from you, it gets the children to invest in their own character and will certainly make their performance more fun and meaningful.

Consider this Recycled Materials Theme:  Have the kids use found items, things they might find in the recycled bin (such as cereal boxes, coke bottles, milk cartons) and cut them to create hats, vests, jewelry etc.  Use a mop for a wig, toilet paper rolls for horns or curls.  Add old plastic toys or colorful hardware.  If you don’t have enough “junk” around the house take a trip to the local thrift store and scour the shelves for colorful stuff like hats, gloves, scarves etc.  Add Halloween costume touches like wax-candy teeth. Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples (FL) did a whole production of ArtReach’s Alice in Wonderland using junk and found objects.  Here’s a picture of Alice in her own special Wonderland of Junk:

"Get Everyone's Creative Juices Flowing!"

ArtReach’s Alice in Wonderland - Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples FL

Adding a twist to your production design gets everyone’s creative juices flowing and makes the whole experience more fun and personal for the kids.

LCA Middle School Theatre Presents: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Director's Notes for ArtReach's script

Widely known as America's first short story, Washington Irving's tale still captures our imaginations after 200 years. Kathryn Schultz Miller's artful adaptation, combined with the inventive theatrical imagination of LCA's Middle School acting troupe, brought the story of the hapless Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman to vivid life last fall.

People commonly speak of acting as an opportunity to "hide" inside a character, when it's actually just the opposite. A truly courageous actor allows the character to be a "glass" to her inner self (her experiences and imagination, hopes and fears, beauty and ugliness), and in so doing, actually becomes a "mirror" to the inner self of the audience member. Merely revealing one's talent is a safe and comfortable act, and, as a result, holds no power other than to impress - its power never makes it past the edge of the stage. But honest self-revelation, though an uncomfortable and sacrificial act, is also a contagious one. It's amazing how often directors forget the centrality of this actor-audience dynamic, but the continual courage and honesty I see in LCA student-actors always brings it back loud and clear.

"Students infuse characters with their own imaginations."
Middle School Kids perform The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
LCA Middle School Theatre Presents: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

When I chose The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as this year's Middle School production, I was concerned whether the story contained enough big ideas, questions, or themes. But as I began to witness the students infuse their characters with their own imaginations, experiences, and senses of humor, I realized that even a story as silly as this one could be, in a real sense, revelatory. There is something uniquely inspiring about witnessing a team of middle school students do the opposite of hiding. In doing so onstage, they remind and inspire those of us offstage to go and do likewise.

"There is something uniquely inspiring about witnessing a team of middle school students do the opposite of hiding."

- Andy Macdonald, Arts Division Head Middle School Theatre, Lexington Christian Academy, MA

Set Your Play in a Unique Place and Time
Spark Creativity by Giving Your School Play a Theme

A great way to mix it up and get everyone’s creativity sparked is to set the play in a time or place that is not traditional for the story.  Wesleyan Middle School in Norcross (GA) put a Western twist on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by setting the play in the Gay Nineties, Texas.  Here Brom Bones is a tough lassoin’ cowboy and, instead of the traditional tri-corner hat, Ichabod dons a silk topper:

"Add a Twist to Your Special Production!"
Fun Comedy for Kids to Perform!  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow! Great Comedy for Middle Schools!  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!
ArtReach’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Weslyan Middle School, GA

Why not ask the kids what time and place they would like to use for their special production?  Brainstorm with them about how to bring their ideas to life.  What if the play was set in outer space, France, in the underwater ocean?  Then assign the creation of each performer’s costume and props to them. They may need some help along the way but once they get the gist of the theme they will run with it!  You’ll be surprised how much work they are willing to do and how it will enhance their performance! 

Just think how proud they will be to wear the costume they created themselves!  Your audience will love seeing how the theme plays out throughout the performance.

Wheelchairs on Stage
Involve every kid in a meaningful way

The Open Staging concept of ArtReach’s School Plays brings everyone together.  Without steps or obstacles, every child is on equal footing.  Why hide a wheelchair?  Make it part of the acting child’s costume and decorate it with pride!  And don’t forget to block the movement of the character in the wheelchair just the way you would any other.  Why can’t King Grumbleknees (in Cinderella) whirl on stage with angry aplomb?  Let him twirl and circle the stage to show his character’s emotion. 

A great play to include special needs kids!  Don't exclude wheelchairs, they will work just fine!

"Include Special Needs Kids!"
A great play to include special needs kids!  Don't exclude wheelchairs, they will work just fine!
ArtReach's Christmas Wizard of Oz
Eagle Family Performers, a collaborative effort between the
Special Services department and the Apollo Chorus, Owensboro, KY

"Some of our most disabled students are having the most fun!  We are only in early stages of rehearsal but it brings tears to my eyes to see the joy the kids are experiencing with this play."
Andrea Salapka, Swift School, Roswell, GA (Director, The Emperor’s New Clothes)

You could even go a step further and integrate kids in wheelchairs with those who don’t really need them.  One idea would be to have all the Mermaids in Peter Pan perform in wheelchairs. Choreograph a water ballet with simple but fluid movements the performers do in unison.   Just imagine -- a disabled child who may not feel included in other activities will feel right at home in your production!

Wheelchairs are good things that help us get around.  There is no reason to hide them.  Put them right there on stage without apology and watch how including everybody makes for a joyous and meaningful performance!

Theatre Student of the Month: December
Proud Cast Member of ArtReach's Robin Hood wins a nod from her peers.

Here's a great idea, Theatre and Drama Teachers!  Take a tip from Lake-Sumter State College and nominate and offer special awards.  Meet a proud member of her Theatre Department!

"Congratulations to Ashley Hall, Lake-Sumter State College, selected as the Florida College System Activities Association Theatre Division Student of the Month for December. She was nominated by Professor Heather Elmatti.

"Congratulations to this outstanding student!"
ArtReach's Robin Hood Ashley Hall in Robin Hood Play
Ashley Hall starred in ArtReach's ROBIN HOOD at Lake-Sumter State College, FL.

Here's what we learned about Ashley: "Ashley has been in four productions at Lake-Sumter State College. She starred as one of the leads in two of our Children's Theatre shows as the Princess in Princess Pigface and Maid Marian in Robin Hood. She is a cast member in the current production of Almost Maine. Ashley has also been a part of the backstage crew for several other productions including: Step On a Crack and Ex Miss Copper Queen on A Set of Pills.

Ashley won a Student Leadership award for involvement in theatre and was awarded Best Supporting Actress at LSSC's Theatre Arts Society (TAS) Awards ceremony. She also received an academic award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications courses in 2016-17. Ashley was one of the few students selected to speak at TEDxLSSC in September 2017 and did an excellent job presenting her talk on the impact of Implicit Racial Bias. Ashley currently serves as Vice President of TAS and takes an active role in helping facilitate and organize the group. Her enthusiasm and kind heart are a unifying factor. We are very proud of her hard work and accomplishments!"

Congratulations to this outstanding student, and our thanks to Professor Elmatti for taking the time to nominate her for this recognition!"

What Happened, Amelia?
Director's Statement for ArtReach's Amelia Earhart Play for Young Audiences
From Study Guide: The Little Company, Morehead State University, 106 Baird Music Hall, Morehead, KY 40351

Octavia Biggs Fleck, DirectorRiding a bicycle for the first time as a child, without training wheels and with no hands, was an in-credible, breathtaking, and exhilarating experience. Scared to death I would wreck, but exhilarated and free. As adults it is not often we get to experience the adrenaline rush or to experience that childlike feeling of being in the moment. However a few years ago, a dear friend of mine took me flying in his small two seated plane. As we flew over Eastern Kentucky the experience allowed me to have a glimpse back to my childhood days of riding my bicycle and into Amelia's world of aviation. Once I settled into the moment, I didn't want it to end. I certainly understand what Amelia felt when she was up amongst the clouds experiencing the world from such a different perspective.

The movement within Kathryn Schultz Miller's script, Amelia Earhart, offers such creativity. It is the type of creativity that I enjoy as an artist and enjoy sharing with an audience as well as the challenges it offers to the actors and the production team. I want you to experience being amongst the clouds and seemingly so close to the stars. The courage of the actors-as they move with the rotation of the stage, manipulate the silks and dance between the lights and sounds wearing the beautifully designed costumes- hopefully will allow you to experience the spirit of Amelia circulating through you.

"I want you to experience being amongst the clouds."
ArtReach's Amelia Earhart Morehead's Director Speaks of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart, Barter Theatre, Abington VA

"Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don't have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you."
Amelia Earhart 

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