Monday, December 1, 2014

Open Letter to Parents of Theatre Kids

Dear Parents of kids in productions,

I want to start by saying that we love your kids. They are great. We love watching them stretch and grow into parts that are not easy for them. We love challenging them and watching them sprout wings and fly! It can truly be amazing, and they grow in confidence and knowledge, and maybe they will face new things with a can do attitude in the future. I would like too think we are helping build a work ethic. A REAL work ethic, where you work, not where you are handed something for nothing.

This is probably one of the greatest gifts one can learn, it will help in all aspects of life, it equips them to be truly amazing adults, and isn't that what the world needs?

Now let's talk about shows....

All of these photos represent one play. ONE. One play done 10 different ways. A director takes a script and interprets it. It is not cookie cutter, laid out for you and you do it exactly like the movie or the Broadway version. We must adapt many scripts to be appropriate for a school setting or younger actors. Music must be found in our case because we do not have a band. Proper keys must be found for our particular singers. All dance numbers must be choreographed and taught. A feel for the interpretation must be shared, and designed, and created. Stage action, even what seems obvious or natural, must be created and taught...and adapted to your personal space. Not all stages are alike, just like our children. You must work with the students available. This means working extra time to improve singing abilities and teaching dance to those that have never danced before. A lot of behind the scenes preparation goes into a production, even before the kids audition.

Let's talk about time.
If you were just cast in a musical, and given 12 brand new to you songs to learn, and lines in many scenes how much time would it take you to get ready? Now add dance moves, and many costume changes. In our school, due to limited, well, everything, we have 3 hours a week.
Three a week.
And about 12 weeks total before the curtain rises.
We have over 35 kids to teach, direct, costume, and in many cases, corral. Yes, I said it. A room with that many kids in it, and they all know each other, which is great. It is wonderful that they like each other and are friends, except that they talk, a lot,  when they are supposed to be listening and learning new directions. Due to this one must speak with authority. One must use a stage voice. It isn't yelling, it is using loud volume to be heard. One must emphasize that we only have so much time and so many weeks until this is on stage, no more "oops, was that my line". No more missed ques. We work the kids hard so that when the time comes they can go on stage and be professional. They can be their character, not merely "Johnny" in a costume.

This isn't a bunch of kids in vegetable costumes reading a sentence about the goodness of asparagus.
This is real theatre.
We call extra rehearsals because we HAVE to. Believe me, we want our vacation days too. We sacrifice them, unpaid, so that the end product is better. So you can be proud that your kids did so well.

Please,  please, when your kids whine about how hard it is, or it seems like the director is mad, take it with a grain of salt. If they complained about chemistry being hard would you march in and demand the class to be easier? I would hope not, chemistry is what it is, and it isn't necessarily easy, but if it isn't fully taught, then your kid misses out out on truly learning it. When they push through and work hard, then they really accomplish something, and then they can be proud of themselves.

We are so proud of the work they do, and how far they have come, please don't stop them from fully discovering how amazing they can be to make it easy for them. I am a parent, I understand it's hard when your kid is frustrated or tired, or feeling down.
Trust us, they will FLY! They will succeed, and they will glow with accomplishment.

And if you want it easier?
Come to class, volunteer, help work lines or songs with students and paint sets and sew costumes.

Thank you,