FREE RESOURCES: Directing Tips [ Page 2 ]
Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
< Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next >

Cast the Shy Kids First
ArtReach’s School Plays Let Your Kids Blossom

Theatre is a fantastic way to draw kids out of their shells.  The written lines give shy kids something to say without having to worry about the difficulty of conversation.  Without too much effort they are suddenly engaged with others – speaking, emoting and having fun with new friends!   Almost every one of ArtReach’s School Plays has roles that require lots of movement and very few or no lines.  Kids who have trouble memorizing facts in class will love being free to perform without having to remember anything but the action of their scene!

Children's Play - Peter Pan Great Parts for Young Kids!  Peter Pan! Children's Play - Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Multiple Peter Pans help each out! 
Peter’s Shadow, Tinker Bell & Crocodile are stars without memorizing any lines!

In Peter Pan, each pirate has a name and personality.  The part of Smee is less famous than Captain Hook but it’s a great part!  Smee has a hilarious scene with Tiger Lily that will draw belly laughs from the audience.  This will be a wonderful moment on stage that child will never forget!  Very shy students or kids with learning disabilities will blossom in roles written just for them. 

Tinker Bell, Peter’s Shadow and, of course, the Crocodile have tremendous fun on stage without the burden of memorization.  And take advantage of the multi-casting option for the large roles.  When five kids play Peter Pan they will likely become a band of brothers and help each other along throughout the entire process!

When choosing a play for your class or group, instead of thinking who will be “best” in a given role, think of who will get the most out of the experience.  Open up your mind to casting decisions that will bring out the hidden talents in every child in your cast.  You’ll be surprised how often the least obvious choice is the very best one!

Take a Tip From Andre
The Possibilities for Alice in Wonderland are Endless

 If you’ve ever seen the movie “My Dinner with Andre” you know that Alice in Wonderland has a rich theatrical history.  In that movie, Andre Gregory describes his experimental approach to theatre and talks about The Manhattan Theatre Project’s production of Alice in Wonderland.  Andre’s much ballyhooed production in the 60s gave the children’s story a twist for grownups, proving that theatrical possibilities are limitless.

It’s always fun to dress up like a character in your favorite movie which is why most schools use designs they’ve seen on the screen.  But a little bit of imagination can really get kids excited about making their School Play something unique and special.  If you are directing ArtReach’s Alice in Wonderland, you might want to mix it up by asking kids for their own ideas.  Discuss and look at pictures of the traditional designs and then ask them how they might do it differently.  Here’s a unique production of ArtReach’s medium cast version of Alice in Wonderland by Trafalgar Middle School in Montreal:

Medium Cast Play - Alice in Wonderland Medium Cast Play - Alice in Wonderland Children's Play -- Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland

It makes us smile to see these pictures because the ideas here are decidedly French!  And here’s a picture from ArtReach’s original professional production of Alice in Wonderland. 

Let your imagination soar and don’t be afraid to open your mind to new ideas.  When you break with the designs that you have already seen in a movie, you make your production extra special.  Alice is in Wonderland after all, and anything can happen there!

Using Pop Culture to Kick It Up a Notch
Jazz it Up for a Cool Show

We like to think of ArtReach’s School Plays as a solid, well-structured place to hang your own ideas.  Although we embellish familiar stories with tons of humor and participation, we seldom stray too far from the original story as you and your kids know it.  You won’t go wrong if you stick to the script.  We know some of your performers may be very young.  They have experienced the magic of the fairy tale quite recently and may still be captivated by the wonderment of a glass slipper or true love’s kiss.  For them it may be best to present the tale in the time and place that seems the truest to the story.

However, if you think your kids would prefer to jazz it up go right ahead.  Add rock songs, write rhyming raps, dress everyone like the stars of Glee!  If you have a teacher or student who is a great composer, by all means enlist their talents!  We all know the Wizard of Oz spin-offs of The Wiz and Wicked.  Go ahead and use ArtReach’s script as the first step toward your own Rock Musical!  Here are some cool Dwarfs from Snow White (Gellett Elementary School, Sarasota, FL) and Cinderella’s Step Sisters from A Christmas Cinderella (Theatre Works, LLC of Stewartstown, PA):

Snow White ----------------- A Christmas Cinderella

When you purchase your School Play Package you have the rights to make any changes and adapt the script to make it perfect for your special performance.  Terry Overfelt produced a contemporary version of ArtReach’s School Play with High school students at Rock Bridge High School (MO).  She had this to say:

"Peter Pan was wonderful!  WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!  Your giving us permission to adapt the script was liberating and inspiring!"

Liberating and inspiring?  Now that’s what we like to hear!

Adapting the Script for Your Kids
Adapting the ArtReach Script for a Large Cast of Students

Oh, no!  Everyone Wants to Be in the Play!

We hear it everyday:  "Last year we had 20 kids in the cast and this year 50 kids showed up wanting to try out!”  First of all congratulations – last year’s show was such a hit everyone wants in on the act!

 But, what do you do?  Should you hold auditions and give the parts to the best actors, the ones that show real talent?  Or should you pack the stage with every child that wants to be there?  Here’s a picture and quote from one of or ArtReach fans:

You may add as many parts as you like! - The Wizard of Oz!
ArtReach's Wizard of Oz, Columbia Children's Theatre

"Don't know if it's a record or not... but Columbia Children's Theatre is presenting ArtReach’s The Wizard of Oz with 156 children!"
Jerry Stevenson, Columbia Children's Theatre, SC

Check out lots of large cast ideas here:  ArtReach’s Wizard of Oz

When you purchase ArtReach’s School Play Package you have the rights to make any changes to the script in order to make it a perfect fit for your kids.  If you want to involve every child you can easily do it!  Each script gives you suggestions for adding more parts.  Think herds of Munchkins, Lost Boys, Mermaids, Pirates, Mice – you get the idea.

But don’t forget that each School Play has been carefully crafted to give each cast member his or her own special moment in the spotlight.  So we suggest you give each new added character a name and a bit of action and/or at least one line.  This doesn’t have to be much, mind you.  Just one second in the spotlight. 

Use your imagination noodle and create something unique.  For instance, in A Snow White Christmas you might have added characters actually become the snow and dance, as the Snowflakes sing.  The naughty Boys & Girls in the Land of Toys in Pinocchio might have a moment of mischief, playing a game of catch and annoying Pinocchio with their ball.  The added Mice in Cinderella may play a quick and funny game of hide and seek with Cinderella.  You get the point – don’t just add characters that stand around – add something unique and fun to the story, making sure everyone in the cast feels that they are fully a part of their School’s special performance.

Have you thought of a unique way to add characters to ArtReach’s School Plays?  By all means, let us know and we’ll pass your ideas along!

Directing Tips: < Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next >
All Free Resources