FREE RESOURCES: Directing Tips [ Page 1 ]
Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
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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 kids to help with their own characters."

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

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.


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:

"Mix it up and get everyone’s creativity sparked."
Fun Comedy for Kids to Perform!  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow! Great Comedy for Middle Schools!  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!
Wesleyan Middle School, Norcross GA - ArtReach’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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!

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

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!


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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