What Do You Need to Start a Theater Program?
Our fall theater program runs for 10 weeks and is open to students in grades 2 and up. Previously, kindergartners and first graders had a pre-show, but this year parent producers decided not to do it as it required too many people to “babysit” about 40 young kids during rehearsals. We usually have about 80 students join the program, which is about 25% of kids in grades 2 through 5. Everyone who comes for auditions gets to participate in the show. Why don’t we have more kids? Well, not every parent or kid is willing to sacrifice 2 hours a day twice a week for 9 weeks and then endure a very intense rehearsal week. Also, there is still cost involved – this year it was $175 per kid, which can add up if you have several budding actors. Home and School Club is offering “theater scholarships” to students if the cost of the program is a gate factor, but, of course, parents then need to ask for this help and I have a hunch that not all parents know that it’s available.
Why Is Theater Program Great for Kids?
Yes, Starting Arts and several other organizations in our area offer after school theater programs, but I see a big advantage in a theater program offered directly in school. For once, it’s a lot more convenient and makes the program accessible for working parents like us who don’t have time to chauffeur our kids to classes. More importantly, it promotes school team spirit. Kids across several grades practice together and perform as a team. They form new friendships that can last after the final curtain and they discover different talents in themselves and others. It was amazing, for example, to see one of Smarty’s classmates, usually a quiet and introverted girl, opening up with an amazing solo playing Tiger Lily in this year's Peter Pan production. Kids make a special “showcase” performance for an entire school and get to hear encouragement and compliments from their friends, their teachers and their principal. Also, kids get an understanding about how the theater production work and what it means to be an actor walking the line between learning the lines perfectly and improvising in acting. Who knows? Perhaps some of them will eventually go on into choosing performing art as their life journey, but I think that everyone will retain love of acting and might jump on other opportunities like this later in life.
More Ideas for Working with SchoolFrom my blog:
- Back to School for Gifted Learners
- Demystifying Homework Struggles
- Teachers Are from Mars, Parents Are from Venus