Thursday, March 26, 2015

A funny Thing Happened on the Way to Rehearsal

As a director you need to be able to have a sense of humor. Today is not a day to give advice or great insights today is a day to celebrate the silly. Last week we wrapped our final performances of the year. It was a whirlwind week of rehearsals and performances for everyone. (this is also why there was no blog post last week.) Performing every night in a week is just too hard. As my final show of the year wrapped I looked back and remembered all of the fun my students and I had. Some of the things were crazy, some were huge mistakes, but all were well worth the effort. I love the rehearsal process and I am always amazed at what my students come up with.

Jasmine and the microphone

For our major musical we produced Aladdin Jr. My students did an amazing job, but it was a huge adjustment learning how to be on a big stage. One of the funniest things that happened was watching the kids learn how to use la-viler mics. My kids love to help, and often if someone didn't know a line they would try to whisper the lines to each other. This does not work with a microphone on. We always heard. Jasmine was great, she knew all of her lines and everyone else's. I was always "reminding" her not to whisper lines with a mic on. Well one night she was trying to whisper lines to Aladdin so she proceeded to try and be slick and cover up her microphone. I then told her that i could hear her through Aladdin's mic. So the smart girl she was grabbed the mics and took them both off and then whispered the line. I couldn't hear her whisper then! Success! except for the fact that we then had to break and spend five minutes repositioning the microphones and explaining why that might not be the best solution for not knowing lines.

Pecos bill and the lion

My fourth graders recently finished producing a show on Tall Tales. In the play about Pecos Bill, Bill is attacked by a lion and decides to try and ride him like a horse. Now I often let students help me block their shows. They are allowed to try what they like and then we modify as needed. As we were working on this show Pecos Bill and the Lion were working through the scene. At the end Bill jumped on the Lion's back and rode him off stage. It was the most random yet perfect blocking to end the scene. We ended up keeping it in the show and the audience loved it. This definitely reconfirmed my desire to let students help block. I would never have thought of it any other way. 

5th graders meet Shakespeare 

My 5th grade students performed Macbeth for their showcase. We had a wonderful adaptation that kept a lot of Shakespeare's traditional language in the play. The first day I had students try and guess what different words meant. They had such fun with the thees and thou's. Their favorite part though was reenacting the witches scenes. They loved to "double double boil and trouble" It was great watching them learn how to speak the language. But We did have several mispronounced words and misunderstandings, "What Ho" means something very different today then it did back then!

How old is 60 year old

So I made the "mistake" of allowing my third grade students complete character analysis on their characters. They learned a ton about their character and their play through this experience. The problem, i learned a lot about how they view "old" people. One of the characters in the play was 60 years old. As soon as the little girl found this out she immediately started playing her like she was a 90 year old women. The girl developed a limp and hunchback over night. When I asked her why she was so old the girl responded Well my character is 60 so I have to make her seem really old... Gee thanks kid

I love the rehearsal process. I love the chaos and experimentation that comes with working with young students and trying to create theatre. Directors of adults would not believe the number of times I simply practice lining up on stage and walking to microphones. Rehearsing for live theatre is always a fun creative event that keeps me loving my job. I hope that a few of these stories put a smile on your face. What crazy events have you ever had rehearsing? Do you think mistakes add to the process or hinder it?