Provide Snacks and Refreshments

Children will appreciate a break in the middle of rehearsals for snacks and refreshments (and their leaders will too, of course). As families take turns baking or bringing snacks, a sense of community and bonding is developed. 

Memorizing Lines

Set a deadline by which all the children must have their lines memorized, and inform them that after that date the use of scripts will not be allowed. Children may call “line” if they forget their lines, but they must remain in character and not disrupt the flow of the scene. 

Dress Rehearsals

Children love dress rehearsals! Plan to have at least two dress rehearsals. 

Costumes and props help children bring their characters to life. By this time, if someone drops lines, the children will need to practice adlibbing their way out of the rough spots. Have a cast party at the last dress rehearsal to show the children that you appreciate their hard work, time, and effort. 

Props

Designate a Prop Master. Then take a list of needed props to rehearsals and place it where parents can easily read it. Ask parents to write their names next to props they will bring, and at rehearsals, place a check mark next to the props as you receive them. 

Call upon families to apply their creativity to make, sew, or build whatever is not provided via the sign-up system. Participating students should research the time period in order to make the props as authentic as possible. Ask your local university drama department if you can borrow some of their props; often, they will be happy to share their resources with another production team. 

During dress rehearsals and on performance night, keep track of all props by using prop tables. Use masking tape to divide the tables into sections. Then write the name of a prop and the character it belongs to in each section. The use of prop tables allows you to quickly determine if something is missing. 

Set Building

Designate a Set Designer, and during the rehearsal period designate three or four “set building days.” Invite families to contribute supplies to the drama project. Parents have a lot of fun building and painting together on these days. 

Make sure the set is ready for use by the time you’re ready to start having dress rehearsals. Wonderful sets can be built out of cardboard. Check with your local appliance stores about how to get a few of their large refrigerator boxes. 

Cost

I recommend that you charge a minimal fee, such as $6 per child or $12 per family, to help cover the costs of the various aspects of production. If everyone works together, plays do not have to be costly. 

Use Teamwork

The more homeschool families you have involved in your production, the better it will be. Trust me—many parents and grandparents will enjoy offering their time and talents to help the children make snacks, props, costumes, and the set. 

Having more than one co-director increases the level of creativity exhibited in the play and makes the workload more manageable. We had three co-directors for Robin Hood. I was blessed to work with Amy Biegler and Laurie Marzofka during that production, and I included many of their wonderful ideas in this article.  

Theater Classes

An alternative to a big production would be to have weekly theater classes that meet for a month or so. At the last class, you can include fun theater games and do a short skit for families. 

Whether you choose to do homeschool plays or theater classes, may you be blessed with laughter, fun, and learning. I pray that the Lord will guide you in all of your decisions. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom so that you can provide what the children need—through your efforts, their efforts, and the support and contributions of their families. May your love for one another in your homeschool community continue to grow. 

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Marci Hanks, a former middle school, high school, and religious education teacher, earned her Doctorate of Education degree in teaching and learning. She enjoys homeschooling her son, co-directing plays, and coordinating field trips with her homeschool group in Wisconsin. She also loves directing short skits with her nieces and nephews at family reunions. 

Publication date: November 16, 2012