FREE RESOURCES: Directing Tips [ Page 5 ]
Ideas & suggestions for producing a creative, fun school play
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Kids are Your Best Source of Creative Ideas
Stumped for ideas?  Ask your kids, it’s not cheating

Let your students help with ideas for set, costumes and even blocking!

Sometimes during after-school rehearsals your head goes – uh, duh&ldots;  Your lead character looks at you for direction and your ideas just aren’t there.  Why not ask the kids to help you out?  When you hit a low tide in the artistic flow, look around!   You have lots of imaginative minds just waiting for a chance to share!  Ask for their ideas!

Teachers often call me and want to know if the School Play Package includes lots of costume ideas.  I always answer, yes, of course!  But I always add that the kids who are actually playing the roles are your best source of ideas.

Kids are Your Best Source of Creative Ideas!
What can be more fun than playing pirates?  These kids love ArtReach's TREASURE ISLAND: YOUNG PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN!
What can be more fun than playing pirates?  These kids love ArtReach's TREASURE ISLAND: YOUNG PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Garden Island School, Hawaii, Peggy Ellenburg Director

As soon as the students have had a chance to read the script and their parts, take a few moments to speak to each child and coax out whatever visual mental images they may have of their character.  Often they will think of things that are around their house like hats in a closet or keepsakes in the attic or garage.  Ask them to describe what they are thinking of and have them simply ask a parent if they can wear it during the show.  Ask also if the object can be embellished with sparkly art supplies to jazz it up for the stage.  This makes your life so much easier and it gives kids a chance to do more than just perform.  After all, costume design is a creative part of the process. 

Why just assign this fun, artistic adventure to their parents or volunteers to sew on a sewing machine?  Let the kids create their characters in every way and they will feel much more invested in their performance.  Active participation in every artistic decision will give your kids a deeper experience and yield a more expressive performance.

Letting kids decide takes the pressure off of you and makes your job a joy!

ArtReach Halloween Plays are for Kids
How to Minimize the Scary and Maximize the Fun

If you are of a certain age you may remember the first time you saw the movie, The Exorcist.  That movie and Hitchcock’s Psycho scared the bee-jeebies out of me when I was a preteen.  I remember how hard it was to turn out the lights at night for fear of demons and crazies in the shadowy corners.

Spine-Tingling Halloween Spookiness!
Large Cast Halloween Play for Kids to Perform - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Edgar Allan Poe Play for Kids! - Poe! Poe! Poe! Frankenstein play for kids to perform!

We all mature at a different pace.  For me, it was quite a while before I could watch a scary movie and realize it was just make believe, therefore not actually something to be afraid of.  So it’s tricky when producing Halloween plays for kids.  Just how scary should it be?

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow takes its cue from Washington Irving’s original work.  Give that story a close reading and you will see that Irving meant the whole thing to be hilarious, not terrifying.  The comedy comes from Ichabod’s fear of ghosts and never tries to frighten the reader.  In ArtReach’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow your young audience will scream at the first sight of the Headless Horseman and then laugh their heads off at Ichabod’s reaction.

We offer the life of Edgar Allan Poe in the play Poe! Poe! Poe!  Since it is offered as reader’s theatre, this play emphasizes the literature and life of this great American writer.   Though stories such as the Masque of the Red Death are dark, quite dark, the audience is left with an appreciation of the writing, not the scariness of the story.

In our newest Halloween play, Kid Frankenstein, Frankie and Irving are science nerds who have an unusual idea for the upcoming Science Fair.  When Doctor Frankenstein's ancient secret book arrives from Transylvania, the friends are whisked into a sci-fi fantasy of time-warped, weirdly scary and lively adventure.

However the kids feel about scary movies these days, ArtReach’s Halloween plays are perfect choices for young audiences.

How to Dress Your Dragon
Creative tips on how to make a fun dragon costume.

 There are many dragons in our culture.  You can find them in hundreds of medieval paintings that depict the age-old myth of ‘St. George and the Dragon’.  You can find them in old and new children’s books.  You can even find them on the Disney Channel and in the movies!

Here are some excitingly clever costumes that recently graced the stages of The Rose Children’s Theatre in Eugene, OR, and Bremerton Community Theatre Jr. in Washington State!

 Train your dragon in three easy steps!The Reluctant Dragon Play for Kids! The Reluctant Dragon Train your dragon in three easy steps!
Wonderful Elaborate Dragon Costumes

It’s a great idea to leave the actor’s face open to the audience.  Seeing both faces, the audience will quickly meld the two giving you the best of both worlds: A dragon face and the human expressions of your young performer.  Also, don’t forget your poor sweating performer – make the costume as comfortable as possible.

Don’t let dressing your dragon scare you away from presenting this lovable beast on your stage!  You will be surprised how effective a simple headpiece and tail can be.  Here are some examples of simple costumes that will serve beautifully for comic and informal performances: 

A little work can go a long way for clever performers! 

Never forget to talk to your actor when making costume decisions.  You’ll be surprised how many ideas they already have in their eager, creative heads!  They may actually know of something at home that they can fashion into a costume.  That makes it clever, easy and wonderful fun for your young cast!

How to Create Amazing Costumes Kids Love to Wear
Let your all-kids cast do the creative work for you

We love all the great costume ideas we’ve seen lately, especially for our new Christmas Musical, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT.  Check out Robbie Robot on below on the right.

Christmas Musical for Kids to Perform The Velveteen Rabbit and his Nursery Friends!
Innovation Arts, Lexington, KY --------- PACE School, NYC

You can make your directing job a lot easier by asking kids to participate in the creativon of their own costumes!  Tell your young thespians to think about how their character acts, talks and walks.  Then have them go home and look around for household objects that might be used in bringing their character to life! You’d be surprised how their imaginations are always turned on – a great resource for you to tap!


Get inspired by robot costumes by Élena Nazzaro of French Toast Girl!

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