suggestions for producing a great school play
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 dont 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
using junk and found objects. Heres a picture of Alice in
her own special Wonderland of Junk:
Alice in Wonderland
Adding a twist to your
production design gets everyones creative juices flowing and
makes the whole experience more fun and personal for the kids.
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
everyones 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:
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 performers
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!
Youll 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.
Involve every kid in a
The Open Staging concept of
ArtReachs 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 childs costume and
decorate it with pride! And dont forget to block the
movement of the character in the wheelchair just the way you would
any other. Why cant King Grumbleknees (in Cinderella)
whirl on stage with angry aplomb? Let him twirl and circle the
stage to show his characters emotion.
A great play to include special
needs kids! Don't exclude wheelchairs, they will work just fine!
Christmas Wizard of Oz
Eagle Family Performers, a
collaborative effort between the
Special Services department and
the Apollo Chorus, Owensboro, KY
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
Emperors New Clothes)
You could even go a step further
and integrate kids in wheelchairs with those who dont 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!
Shy Kids First
ArtReachs 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 ArtReachs 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!
Multiple Peter Pans help each out!
Peters Shadow, Tinker Bell
& Crocodile are stars without memorizing any lines!
Pan, each pirate
has a name and personality. The part of Smee is less famous
than Captain Hook but its 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, Peters 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.
Youll be surprised how often the least obvious choice is the
very best one!
Take a Tip
The Possibilities for Alice in
Wonderland are Endless
If youve 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 Projects production of Alice in
Wonderland. Andres much ballyhooed production in the 60s
gave the childrens story a twist for grownups, proving that
theatrical possibilities are limitless.
Its always fun to dress up
like a character in your favorite movie which is why most schools use
designs theyve 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
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. Heres a unique
production of ArtReachs medium cast version of Alice
in Wonderland by
Trafalgar Middle School in Montreal:
It makes us smile to see these
pictures because the ideas here are decidedly French! And
heres a picture from ArtReachs original professional
production of Alice in Wonderland.
Let your imagination soar and
dont 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!
Culture to Kick It Up a Notch
Jazz it Up for a Cool Show
We like to think of
ArtReachs 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 wont
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 loves 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 ArtReachs script as
the first step toward your own Rock Musical! Here are some cool
Dwarfs from Snow
Elementary School, Sarasota, FL) and Cinderellas Step Sisters
(Theatre Works, LLC of Stewartstown, PA):
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 ArtReachs School
Play with High school students at Rock Bridge High School (MO).
She had this to say:
Pan was wonderful! WE HAD SO MUCH FUN! Your giving us
permission to adapt the script was liberating and inspiring!"
Liberating and inspiring?
Now thats what we like to hear!
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 years 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? Heres a picture and
quote from one of or ArtReach fans:
of Oz, Columbia
know if it's a record or not... but Columbia Children's Theatre is
presenting ArtReachs The Wizard of Oz with 156 children!"
Jerry Stevenson, Columbia
Children's Theatre, SC
Check out lots of large cast
ideas here: ArtReachs
Wizard of Oz
When you purchase ArtReachs
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 dont 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 doesnt 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 dont 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 Schools special performance.
Have you thought of a unique way
to add characters to ArtReachs School Plays? By all
means, let us know and well pass your ideas along!
Loves Audience Participation
Audiences and Kids Have Fun Together
During the revolutionary 60s and
70s, a British director named Brian Way forged a new direction in
childrens theatre that centered on inclusion. His plays
were the first to have all children participate together in a way
that really offered kids a chance to use their natural impulse to
play and imagine. For us at ArtReach, Brian Way is a hero.
With ArtReachs School
Plays, we strive to find new and creative ways to bring audience and
cast together. We dont believe in lecturing kids about
how to behave during a play we let them know that something
fun is going on and they are invited to enjoy it with us.
Whether you are on stage or in the audience, you are a part of this
very special event we call live theatre.
Emperors New Clothes,
the audience is invited to help the conniving tailor pull a fast one
on the Emperor. In Alice
the Queen of Hearts invites the audience to play along during the
flamingo croquet game. In Pinocchio,
the audience actually becomes the whale that swallows Geppetto and
his little puppet son. In Aladdin,
market sellers come right up to the audience members to sell their
wares. Hope you have a coin, because the merchant is ready to
make a deal!
Audience members pretend to hold
the Emperors invisible coat.
Young market Sellers in Aladdin
present their wares to the audience for sale.
See more photos here: The
Emperors New Clothes
Every ArtReach School
Play will give
you lots of tips and instructions on how involve your audience.
As a director, you can be sure that the audience participation is
clearly explained in the script. The School Plays even have
blocking suggestions that will bring your scenes right into the
aisles! You will be amazed at how easily everyone catches on
and how eager your audience is to join in the fun.
Hold Auditions for a School Play
Create a Safe Place for Kids to
Explore Their Talents
Its important to decide
what your goals are for the production. Do you want to produce
a play that is as close to professional as possible? Or do you want
to provide an educational experience for lots of kids in order to
expose them to the dramatic arts?
ArtReachs School Plays can
serve either of these goals. Theres no one "right way
to do it! Many teachers produce wonderful elaborate
productions with professional sets and costumes. And we love to
see pictures of these productions! Take a look at these:
---------- Pinocchio --------
Wizard of Oz
But for every gorgeously
realized production, there are many productions that are quite
informal that put the emphasis is on simply learning and having
fun. These productions are just as exciting and meaningful to
Cinderella ---------------------- Alice
If your concern is providing
kids with their first taste of acting, we suggest starting with a
policy of inclusion. For auditions, have everyone who is
interested gather together in one large room. Have everyone
stay together throughout the process. At the beginning of the
session explain that everyone is being considered and everyone who
wants to be in the play will be cast. Then encourage your young
hopefuls to support each other during auditions. Tell them to
laugh and applaud their fellow auditioners if they feel like it!
Rather than concentrating on
monologues or 2 person scenes, choose group scenes from the script
and have a several kids audition together. Let everyone who
wants to read a scene have their chance. Never say a line for
your actors and ask them to mimic you. This limits your
performers and sends the signal that there is a "right way
to say the line when in fact the possibilities are endless! Your
young performer may surprise you with an incredibly creative
reading! Also, never interrupt a student while he or she is
auditioning. Stick to the scene as you have provided it and
show great respect for the performers efforts.
Keep your eye open -- not for
the next Broadway star -- but for all the signals the kids will send
you about where they are in the creative process. Look for
opportunities to cast kids in roles that do not seem obvious for
them. The class clown might be challenged by playing the less than
comic role of Prince Charming. The shyest kid in your group may
come alive as Captain Hook. Look for the kids who help others
and put them in roles where they can strengthen the sense of
camaraderie in your cast.
At every turn in the process
offer your kids a chance to explore and discover their own unique
talents. Give them a safe place to enjoy this wonderful new
thing called live theatre. Without a doubt you will find
treasures of talent where you least expect it!
School Play is Best for Your Age-Group?
The Simplest Play Not
Necessarily the Easiest
Teachers with very young kids
often ask which play is the simplest for their kids to learn. The
Wizard of Oz
will always be fairly easy for the youngest kids because they are
very familiar with the story. ArtReachs Wizard
of Oz follows
the L. Frank Baum book and does not stray into new side-line stories
or tangents, so every part of the script will feel familiar to you
and your students.
Great plays for K-3 kids are Cinderella
These are a little shorter than the other plays and have lots of
great roles for kids with very simple dialogue. If you are
looking for a play that is written in scenes you might consider Alice
Alice is episodic and each scene can be separated from the whole, so
that you can concentrate on one scene at a time during rehearsal.
is a very easy play to put together. Dialogue is quite simple
and costumes and scenery are easy to make. However, the subject
matter is a bit deeper than other plays and its a good idea to
factor discussion time in your rehearsal schedule. A
is often performed by kids as young as kindergarten with terrific results!
Your School Play Can Be Easy,
Stress-Free & Fun
Long-time ArtReach Friend and
Director Sarah Ackerman-Hale posted this last week just before the
opening of her TREASURE
ISLAND: YOUNG PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:
"Directing plays inspired me to go back to school to become an
elementary teacher. As I've completed my schooling, I've come to
really understand and appreciate your philosophies about the emphasis
being on the process, not so much the completed
"product. Heres a pic from Sarahs
Madison Avenue Performing Arts summer show!
Check out Treasure
Island for more pictures!
stage suggestions give you freedom to let your imagination
soar! Just because its easy doesnt mean its
not good. Sarah gave her kids a blackboard and chalk and they
created a one of kind set that is all their own! To create
costumes, Sarah invited everyone to dress up for a Pirate Party.
Presto! Instant set and costumes that cost almost nothing and
make the most of kids natural creativity and impulse to play.
"stress-free and "fun make the end result more
exciting than you ever dreamed possible!
Make Summer Drama Camp Stress-Free
Beware of Little Pirates!
One of the best things about
summer is that there are lots of "big kids around to help
you with the "little kids! Take a tip from ESF Camps
at Gilman School in Baltimore. They used ArtReachs TREASURE
ISLAND: YOUNG PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
to put together a fun and stress-free pirate day camp!
Island: Young Pirates of the Caribbean
ESF Camps at Gilman School,
Enlist the older kids in your
school, community or church to help put the play together.
Divide your little pirates into "tribes and put 3 or 4
older kids in charge of each. The tribe leaders can work
together to coordinate activities before the little ones
arrive. Divide the script up and assign portions to each
tribe. This way each group has about 10 minutes of
material and one song to work on. At the end of the 1 or 2 week
session, put all the tribes together for a swashbuckling full-length
show. What a way to make little stars shine!
Its a great experience for the tribe leaders too!
ESF Camps kicked the whole
shebang off with a fun Beware of Pirates Day! This helped with
costume creation and gave the kids a taste for the play they would be performing.
Argg, me hearties! A grand
time was had by all!
Parade to Promote Your Summer Play
Enter a Float in the Local
Independence Day Parade
Take a tip from Maumelle Youth
Theater (Maubelle AR)! The creative folks at this theatre for
kids came up with a fun and effective way to promote their July
performance of ArtReachs TREASURE
ISLAND: YOUNG PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN!
Have your kids design, build and
enter their show-themed float in the local 4th of July Parade.
This gets young creative juices flowing, costumes built early and
gives everyone a shot of confidence! What a fun way to show the
whole town how great your upcoming show is going to be!
Maumelle Youth Theatre won first
place for their Treasure Island float.
Check out more about TREASURE
ISLAND for kids
Maubelles parade float won
BEST OVERALL PARADE FLOAT on the 4th of July! They won a huge trophy
and $200! Every little pirate was excited about getting
started on rehearsals and looking forward to getting their pirate on!
What better way to make performance ship loads of fun? Arggg!
An Award-Winning Play for Competition
Amelia Earhart Wins Awards for
When choosing a play for your
Middle School or High School students to perform, look no further
than ArtReachs 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
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
Grove High School, Hattiesburg, MS
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!
Wonderland: Flexible Casts of All Sizes
Why Teachers Love ArtReachs
Alice in Wonderland
IN WONDERLAND is
one of ArtReachs 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.
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 youd like to allow up to 5 girls to play
Alice, each girls will enjoy her special moment on stage. And
dont forget, theres no reason why Alice must be a
girl. Try casting a boy by simply changing the name to Alex!
Has a Great Part in the Play!
Five Alices -- Everyone Has
Fun! Dramaworks Theatre Company, Budapest
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 dont 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.
Allen in Wonderland?
What if genders are reversed?
in Wonderland be
just as exciting?
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.
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. Todays 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 childs 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.
Outside the Wizard!
Can you imagine a world without
The Wizard of Oz?
When L. Frank Baum sat down in
1990 to write Americans 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
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?
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
ArtReachs 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!
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 students 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 theres a will theres 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 ArtReachs touring
plays have been written for maximum imagination and minimum stuff to
fill your van. Each touring play features small casts such as
Emperors New Clothes, Sword in the Stone and Blue Horses
requiring mostly 2, 3 or 4 performers. Middle Schools and High
Schools will find ArtReachs 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!
Theatre Take A Show to Them!
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!
Audience for Dragon Fun
participation gets everyone involved
ArtReachs script for The
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 audiences support and Widget is
finally proclaimed a hero by, you guessed it the
audience! But you can draw your audience in even more.
Love Dragon Fun and Participation!
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 theyd 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 Grahames classic story and then read
the summary of the script provided in the Teachers
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. Dont 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 theyd
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!
Best Source of Creative Ideas
Stumped for ideas? Ask
your kids, its 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 arent
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
Your Best Source of Creative Ideas!
What can be more fun than
These kids love ArtReach's TREASURE
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!
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 Hitchcocks 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.
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 its tricky when producing
Halloween plays for kids. Just how scary should it be?
Legend of Sleepy Hollow
takes its cue from Washington Irvings 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 Ichabods fear of ghosts and never tries to frighten the
reader. In ArtReachs 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 Ichabods reaction.
We offer the life of Edgar Allan
Poe in the play Poe!
Since it is offered as readers 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.
newest Halloween play, Kid
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, ArtReachs Halloween plays are perfect
choices for young audiences.
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 childrens
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 Childrens
Theatre in Eugene, OR, and Bremerton Community Theatre Jr. in
your dragon in three easy steps!
Wonderful Elaborate Dragon Costumes
Its a great idea to leave
the actors 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, dont forget your poor sweating performer
make the costume as comfortable as possible.
Dont 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. Youll 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!
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 weve seen lately, especially for our new Christmas
Check out Robbie Robot on below on the right.
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! Youd 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!
About the Experience
Let your school kids explore
Maybe you know a kid who shies
away from the experience of performing in a play because or she is
afraid of the responsibility of learning lines, standing up straight
and looking good before an audience. As director you may be
primarily concerned with teaching everyone where to stand, when to
come in and making sure they keep their faces toward the audience.
But at ArtReach we believe that
kids need a chance to perform, act out and pretend. Its
time to use funny voices, walk like crazy people, scream and laugh
and dance like nobodys looking. As director you
feel you must keep control of your cast and be concerned with whether
or not the audience can see the action. But since these are
kids, just getting their feet wet, its quite all right to let
them test their wings and fall if they have to.
What if Captain Hook isnt the best youve ever seen?
What if the audience isnt exactly thrilled with the performance?
What matters is the child
performer has a chance to experience Captain Hook, try on the
clothes, hobble on the peg leg and enjoy being something they never
dreamt of. Give them roots and wings the confidence to
try something new and a safe place to land if they dont exactly fly.
Failure doesnt need to be
pointed out or even worried about. It just isnt part of
the experience. Giving kids a chance to have fun and feel free
to explore something outside of the ordinary thats what
its all about.
Give yourself the freedom to
value the process over product and youll have the time
of your life!
Jazz it Up
with an Orchestra!
Add creative fun with percussion instruments
Danny Da Drum, Zella Bella,
Horatio Hornblower, Ting-A-Ling, Tim Whistle and Huey Kazooie.
What do these characters have in common? They are the members
of a fun and silly orchestra for ArtReachs play THE
EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES.
Raid the music room! Look
for kazoos, triangles, drums, chimes, tambourines, rhythm sticks,
slide whistles, bells, cymbals and anything that makes noise!
Bring these to your first rehearsal and ask the kids to play with
them during scenes to see if they enhance the performance. Show
your cast an example: Peter rams his head against the castle
door to open it. Use the cymbal for the crash and then a slide
whistle as Peter circles his head around, dizzy from the crash.
Ask them to think of similar sounds for other moments throughout the
play such as the Empress entrance, Peters travels
etc. Set aside a little time each rehearsal session to review
ideas for sounds and decide which will be included in the play.
up for the Emperor!
Campanile Center for the Arts,
Manocqua WI - Orchestra
The script for EMPERORS
calls for the storytellers to also be the music/sound makers, but you
may apply this idea to any of the ArtReach plays. Even if
storytellers dont stay stationary at the percussion stand, they
may carry small instruments in their pockets or on chains around
their necks. You can also eliminate literal props by having the
orchestra make the sounds such as sawing, creaking hinges, a
blacksmiths tapping etc.
Example: Heres a trick I
used often. When your Prince Charming hero enters have him
smile big. Have someone "ting a triangle at just
that moment. It seems to make your heros teeth glint in
the sunlight. It never fails to get a laugh and establishes
your hero as a super good-guy.
AND THE BEANSTALK,
OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
are great scripts for percussion instruments but the idea may applied
to any play with narrators.