FREE RESOURCES: Directing Tips [ Page 4 ]
Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
< Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Next >

This page (Page #4) has creative ideas for directing a fun, successful play or musical.  Check out these examples used in ArtReach popular titles: Amelia Earhart, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Emperor's New Clothes, Reluctant Dragon.  Don’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain many other ideas and inspirations!

Choosing An Award-Winning Play for Competition
Amelia Earhart Wins Awards for High Schools

When choosing a play for your Middle School or High School students to perform, look no further than ArtReach’s One Act Plays and Touring Plays.  Most of these scripts can be performed by young adults with a cast size of 3 to 15 or more.  One of our top award-winning plays is AMELIA EARHART.

"We had a HUGE win with Amelia Earhart at our theatre competition!  We won All-Star Cast, Best Set, Best Technical Production, Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress!  We will be competing for the State!"
Jesse Tilton, Spain Park High School Theatre, Hoover AL

"Drama that makes the most of young performers."
One Act Play for Schools - Amelia Earhart One Act Play for Schools - Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart, Oak Grove High School, Hattiesburg, MS

AMELIA EARHART follows the heroine from her early attempts to make history through to her tragic final flight.  It's an entertaining and surprisingly balanced look back on a period in history where our country seemed obsessed with proving themselves as Americans.

This one act play is a fast-paced drama that demands the most of your young adult performers and gives them a great opportunity to show off their thespian talents.  Every year we hear from schools that have placed high or even won first place in their drama competitions.  Best of all, ArtReach places no restrictions on your right to cut or edit the script to fit the time constraints of your particular contest.  Your production of AMELIA EARHART is sure to be a high-flying success!

ArtReach’s Alice in Wonderland is flexible for student casts of all sizes
Why Teachers Love ArtReach’s Alice in Wonderland

ALICE IN WONDERLAND is one of ArtReach’s most popular scripts with lots of performances happening all over the globe!  This script for kids to perform stands out because it is easy to adapt the script to the size of your cast and the ages of the young performers.

The School Play Version of the script works well for large groups of about 24.  There are lots of small roles for young students such as Dormouse, March Hare and the Queens Gardeners.   If you have young readers who may have trouble with memorizing lines, it is quite all right to cast them as the Storytellers and allow them to hold the script and read their parts on stage.  Older kids who really want to dive in will love the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and, of course, the Queen of Hearts.  If you’d like to allow up to 5 girls to play Alice, each girls will enjoy her special moment on stage.  And don’t forget, there’s no reason why Alice must be a girl.  Try casting a boy by simply changing the name to Alex!

"The script works well for large groups of students."
Five Alices For Everyone to Have Fun!  Alice in Wonderland! Young Kids Love ArtReach's Allice in Wonderland!
Five Alices -- Everyone Has Fun!  Dramaworks Theatre Company, Budapest

The Medium Cast Version is great for a small sized cast of about 15.  This script is essentially the same as the School Play Version but lines have been lengthened, giving each performer more to memorize and more business to do.  Storytellers become much more important in this version, allowing kids to really use their imaginations as they find ways to set the stage for each scene.  Because lines are longer, we often recommend this for Middle School students who are not as intimidated by long speeches.

Almost every role in the play may be played by either gender.  And don’t forget that you may add lines, jokes, songs and scenes!  It is quite all right to make any changes to the script to make it the perfect vehicle for your kids’ special performance.

Staging Suggestions for Lively Children's Theatre
Tips for Directing ArtReach's Cinderella and other ArtReach School Plays

Performance Space:  If the play is to take place in a classroom, move all the desks to the back of the room. If this does not allow sufficient space for the performance, push them against 3 sides and let the center of the room be part of the playing area (with the audience, if any, seated around). For a bigger audience, a larger room would be appropriate. The gym or cafeteria will probably give you more space than needed. In that case use just half of the room and arrange audience chairs in a horseshoe shape around the playing area.

"Raid the music room!  Create a percussion stand."
ArtReach's Directing Tips Tips for New Directors
Gretna Kids Playhouse Summer Theatre Workshop, Gretna, LA

Percussion Instruments:  Raid the music room! Gather as many simple percussion instruments as you can find (chimes, xylophones kazoos, whistles, rhythm sticks, jingle bells, etc.) Create a "percussion stand" by arranging the instruments on a table or a narrow ledge.

Some instruments will need to be held up to be played (triangle, chimes, gong). The music room might have a stand for these instruments. If not, you could build a simple one (think "large cardboard box") or simply have the children hold those up when they are played. CHORUS members (usually identified by different colors) could be seated around the percussion stand. They can act as narrators and orchestra in the tradition of a Greek Chorus. (Occasionally, CHORUS members are given short on-stage tasks to do.) Your percussion stand can be placed in the corner of the playing area.

"Show character's traits through acting rather than costume."
Workshop Ideas for ArtReach's Plays
Gretna Kids Playhouse Summer Theatre Workshop, Gretna, LA

Costumes:  There is a Japanese theatrical tradition of dressing actors all in black and using masks or costume pieces to indicate character. What a great idea! Have your young performers wear all black or dark blue - or dark purple, green, have them choose! They then add costume pieces such as hats, crowns and capes to identify their characters.  Keep it simple. Remember it's more important (and more fun!) for your students to convey their character's personality through acting rather than costume. CHORUS members can wear different color tee-shirts to match their color-name or they can bring a piece of clothing from home (ball cap, scarf, a towel used as a cape) that is their color.

Costume Rack:  In one corner will be a hat stand, or several hat stands. Any object with clothes hooks will allow you to hang costume pieces (see below) that will be put on by the children as they assume their roles. Some props, such as the Fairy Godmother's magic wand, may be kept at their chairs where they are sitting.

How About Allen in Wonderland?
What if genders are reversed?  Will Alice in Wonderland be just as exciting?

Alice in Wonderland is such a meaningful part of our childhood literature that stays with us long after we reach adulthood.  Often we protect our childhood memories by demanding that our first images of a story stay purified by our first imaginings and memories.

"Most parts can be played by a girl or a boy."
Alice in Wonderland!  Great Play for Teens to Perform! Play for Middle Schools and High Schools!  Alice in Wonderland!
Greenbrier Valley Theatre, GVTeens Program, Lewisburg, WV

Yet the most ingrained images that we love and revere were at the start quite new and original, ignoring stereotypes.  Today’s kids do not have the same ideas of what a boy character and a girl character should "want”.  And "wanting” is the very thing that brings a child’s story to life.  Aladdin wants to be respected like a King; Cinderella wants to be the kind of girl who would meet a prince at the ball.   Change the race, age, and gender of the protagonist and you may find what a different story seems to be.   The new hero of our story may want nothing more than a small variation of the original wanted object.  

Alice, the girl who wanders into and tries to understand Wonderland, may very well be a boy or a girl.  The absurdity (and thrill!) of Wonderland will be the same to a child, regardless of gender.  It is the same for drama.  Your job as casting director is simply to bring the desires of the protagonist to life.  Everything Alice wants can easily be what Allen wants.  Therefore, when you cast a play, look for the actor who shows the most interest in the adventure.  Alice or Allen, the story will reveal itself with the greatest fun and intensity if the actor who plays the lead part is the actor who shows the most interested in the outcome.

Think Outside the Wizard!
Can you imagine a world without The Wizard of Oz?

When L. Frank Baum sat down in 1990 to write American’s first fairy tale, he had to make the whole thing up!  Out of nowhere came his unique image of characters that are so familiar to us now that they are part of our everyday life.

Have your students imagine that they are L. Frank Baum sitting down to a blank piece of paper.  Have them pretend that they have never seen the movie or a play of The Wizard of Oz.   Have them draw an image of each character that is very different from those we remember so well.  In order to get them thinking outside the box have them place these characters in a different culture or climate.  What if Dorothy was living in China?  What if the scarecrow lived in the Arctic?  What if the Wicked Witch had been born on a ranch in Texas?

"Imagine you are L Frank Baum."
Creative scripts give kids lots of ideas!  Here the Tin Man has a most unusual take on the costume! Toto is played by a boy, the narrators are a big part of the story and the Good Witch brings joy to THE WIZARD OF OZ!
Corinth Theatre Arts, MS - Tampa Creative Camp, FL

Creative scripts give kids lots of ideas!  Here the Tin Man has a most unusual take on the costume! The Wizard of Oz!  Great for Camps and Workshops!

Every now and then ArtReach’s receives photos of production that have taken a very different turn from the designs we have seen in the books or movies.   Add a dash of creativity to your production by making it look different than any other Wizard of Oz your audience has seen.  What a great way to get kids using the arts to look at the world with new eyes!

Taking the Show on the Road
Why Not Perform Your ArtReach Play for Other Schools?

Hit the road, Jack!  Most ArtReach Plays are ideal for touring to local schools!  A little planning ahead can make it easy to share your wonderful production with hundreds of kids.

Almost everyone agrees that the arts are a vital part of a student’s education, but these days schools are finding it more and more difficult to bus kids to performing arts events.  Less funding for the arts and the rising cost of transportation mean kids miss out on field trips to the theatre.  But where there’s a will there’s a way!  ArtReach has always been first in providing plays that can be performed in schools, on stages or in a large room.

All of ArtReach’s touring plays have been written for maximum imagination and minimum stuff to fill your van.  Each touring play features small casts such as Emperor’s New Clothes, Sword in the Stone and Blue Horses requiring mostly 2, 3 or 4 performers.  Middle Schools and High Schools will find ArtReach’s Expanded Cast versions, such as Amelia Earhart, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin, are ideal for casts of about 10-15 performers.  Even the School Plays can be performed for kids in nearby schools!

"Shows can be performed in nearby schools!"

ArtReach's The Emperor's New Clothes

Call the schools in your area, talk to the principal, and tell them that you have a great production that you would like to perform for their students.  Tell them you even have a great Teachers Guide that can be used in the classroom before the performance.  Then check all your scenery and props and eliminate anything that is not necessary and line up vehicles to carry set and cast. 

About a week before the performance choose a Tour Manager (from your cast or backstage crew) and visit the school to checkout the performing space as well as parking options and entrances and exits.  Meet the principal and ask for any tips he or she might have for a smooth event.  Choose a cast member to make a pre-show speech and then hold a question and answer period after so that kids in the audience can learn more about the production.

Your cast gets to show off their brilliant achievement one more time and lots of kids get to see theatre!  Theatre is a wonderful experience for all – spread it around!

Train Your Audience for Dragon Fun
Audience participation gets everyone involved

ArtReach’s script for The Reluctant Dragon offers tons of audience participation!  Kids, teachers, grownups and everyone watching the performance has a vital role to play.  King Fancy Pants addresses them and even asks for their help.  Saint George is buoyed by the audience’s support and Widget is finally proclaimed a hero by, you guessed it – the audience!  But you can draw your audience in even more.

"Everyone watching has a vital role to play."
Excting Action Play for Kids! Hilarious comedy for schools to perform!
Widget & Hairytoes train their dragon!  The King orders a battle!

Have a dragon pyramid, Christmas tree or bulletin board in the lobby.  Explain in the program that each audience member is asked to draw a dragon on the back and turn them in at the end of the show.  Or if they’d rather, they may draw their image of a white knight like Saint George.  While cast members are meeting audience members in the lobby after the show, have helpers put up the pictures.  When all are ready for viewing, have the Town Crier ring his bell and announce the art show!

If classes are attending make sure you have lots of time for prepping before they see the show.  Read Kenneth Grahame’s classic story and then read the summary of the script provided in the Teachers Guide.  Ask kids to discuss what elements of the story are the same and which are different.  Talk about why the author of the play made certain decisions.  Don’t hesitate to talk about drama, plays and other presentations they have seen and discuss what makes a play different from a book.

Have young audience members dress up like dragons for the show!  If kids have a dragon costume from Halloween have them wear it on the day of the show and tell the class about it.  Talk about dragons the kids have seen in movies and TV shows.  Do they have a favorite one they’d like to dress like?  An easy way to do this is to simply make a construction paper headpiece or even decorate a ball cap.

Can you think of other fun dragon based activities?  Prepare your audience and they will love the show!

Directing Tips Page 4: < Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Next >
All Free Resources


Teacher Reviews