How to Direct an Amazing Homeschool Play and Build Community at the Same Time
- Friday, November 16, 2012
The benefits of incorporating theater arts into homeschoolers’ education are immeasurable—regardless of whether you choose to do a big production or a small skit. Our homeschool group did a production of Robin Hood. The play was wonderful on so many levels—from what it did for each child all the way up to how it knit thirteen homeschooling families with twenty-five children closer together. Two years later, our play is still the buzz that our homeschool group is talking about. What makes a play so memorable?
Homeschool plays are memorable because they build community. Plays provide unique opportunities for homeschool families to work together, and new relationships form among children and among entire families. Opportunities to connect with other homeschoolers are important because without them, some homeschool parents and students might feel lonely or depressed.
Homeschool plays build children’s self-esteem, confidence, and communication skills. Children enjoy acting and using their imaginations. Participation in a homeschool drama production gives children an opportunity to learn how to work in a group environment. They also will get to practice speaking in front of a live audience.
Preparing for a homeschool play can be a lot of fun. You can direct an amazing homeschool play even if you do not have any prior acting experience or theater background. Here are some tips to help you.
You can find scripts through your public library or by searching online for children’s plays. If possible, use a script that the author will allow you to make changes to. Changes allow you to accommodate varying age levels and acting abilities, and if necessary, you can cast more children by splitting a character’s lines. You can also write in new characters. Add non-speaking parts for children who do not want to speak in front of an audience but still want to be a part of the play, and simply delete lines that you don’t like.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, have children write a play together in the fall, followed by a performance in the spring. Ask the children which characters they would like to play, and . . . go for it!
Check with local churches, community centers, schools, or university theaters to see if you can use their stage. With some creativity, plays can be done in a backyard. Hang sheets up on a clothesline and ask everyone to bring lawn chairs with them for performance night.
The number of rehearsals you need depends on the length of your script. Two or three months is a good amount of time to prepare for an hour-long production. During the first few rehearsals, have the children sit in a big circle to read their lines out loud together. Let them get comfortable with their lines. Direct them to pay attention to their cues, which are the lines spoken by a few of the characters before their turn. You may even suggest that they highlight (in their scripts) their cues in one color and their speaking parts in another color.
Talk about the characters. Have the children explain what their characters are like. Once children are familiar with the script, have them stand up and read their lines. Encourage the children to experiment with exiting and entering the stage and acting the scene out on their own the first few times. Then offer suggestions for staging and blocking.
Both the children and the directors should record entrances, exits, and actions in the scripts. In the beginning, concentrate on one scene at each rehearsal, alternating scenes each week. As you get closer to the performance date, run through the entire play, which will allow the cast to work on making smooth transitions.
Make Rehearsals Fun
Start rehearsals with fun theater warm-up games that teach important acting skills such as projecting your voice, facing the audience, and not blocking other actors from the audience’s view. You can find books on theater warm-up games through your public library.
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