Environment is King for Drama

I was talking with a mom earlier this morning, and she said something very interesting. She said that her daughter loves my drama classes, and talks about me frequently when it comes to drama. Although I’m glad I inspire the kids, it’s not the point of this story. What is interesting is she followed up…

Environment is King for Drama was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

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Character Line Quantities for Playing With Play Books

Over the years, I have taught EVERY single one of our plays, most of them multiple times, and some of them at least 20 times…. (Hamlet, Midsummer, R&J, Caesar, Macbeth…). But, one of the best tools for me to use is the Character Line Quantities spreadsheet to help me with casting.

A teacher asked me recently, “why don’t you share that?” Which I gladly did. But it hit me, why don’t I share this with EVERYONE?

There’s nothing like casting a play. Trying to figure out dynamics of who can synergize with who; what characters will pull the most out of which kids; more seasoned kids get more lines; a kid’s last show of their school career – do they get the lead? Did I give too many lines to a novice actor?

That last question sometimes worries me… as some parts may seem small (Friar Lawrence in R&J) Yet are one of the bigger parts. (2nd most lines in that play) And, in many of our plays, many actors get 2 or even 3 parts to play. (Did I give too many lines with multiple parts?)

So, a while back, I created and Character Line Quantities sheet that helps me cast my shows. Well, the main reason I never shared it is that it’s just a simple spreadsheet and not fancy, and NOT completely filled out. Well, that’s not a good reason. So, see the link here to have access to it. And if you have any questions, let me know!

Each play has its own tab on the bottom. If you don’t see a play, scroll to the left and right.

Enjoy!

Download the Character Line Quantities sheet

 

Character Line Quantities for Playing With Play Books was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

CONFIDENCE – Part 7 of Why Drama is so Important in School

Part 7 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – CONFIDENCE

Confidence in children can be shattered so quickly and many times we don’t even know why. But, what we do know is that confidence can be built. Confidence can have an incredibly strong foundation for the future of a child, if nurtured correctly.

The DEFINITION of confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Let’s break that down – “self-assurance” and “one’s own abilities” – it’s about believing in yourself and your skills. The other key phrase to note here is “ARISING from one’s appreciation” – ARISING, or emerging or becoming apparent. This doesn’t JUST occur, it takes time, repetition.

That’s one of the great things that drama brings to the table – the ability to give you time to work on something until you feel confident enough to go in front of people to present it.  And only when those people appreciate what you have accomplished, whether it be your parents, director, peers, or whomever you deem important, does your confidence in your own abilities become a growing foundation for you to build on.

There’s a good reason many kids do more than one play. One of those reasons IS self-confidence and being proud of their work.

I directed a kid once, whose parents made him join one of my drama classes.  He said he wanted a small part because he was scared to go on stage and be embarrassed.  So I gave him a part with just 3 speaking lines, and a lot of opportunities to come on stage with no lines. (It was Treasure Island for Kids, pirates were always being killed on stage, and hey, kids LOVE to die on stage!)  He had so much fun with his peers, and he nailed his part and made the audience laugh. He came back to do five more of my plays over the next three years. Each time, getting a bigger and bigger part. Until yes, he got the part of Hamlet.

He quickly realized, as most seasoned actors do, “There are no small parts, just small actors”. In other words, even with no lines, his pirate “deaths” were AMAZING… and had the audience laughing every time. This laughter fueled his confidence.

There are no “small” parts just small actors – Constantin Stanislavski

This kid did not want to do drama because he was worried about what his friends would think of him. Once he realized that he could make them laugh, he came back for more. He is a very different kid today than the one who reluctantly came into my class three years ago. All, because of the continued growth in confidence he had in himself.

Having confidence in yourself and abilities to go in front of an audience, whether that is a group of peers, your class, your boss, or whoever, takes courage.

Another way to improve confidence is through improv. Practicing improvisation increases and builds confidence. As well as impromptu speaking skills which come in very handy at business meetings and social gatherings.

As we know, many adults have a fear of speaking, and the fact is it’s not the fear of speaking but rather the fear of making a fool of ones’ self in front of others, or not being believed. Much of this fear could have been curbed by doing drama when they were younger and giving them confidence in their abilities.

Drama is amazing for giving us life skills without even realizing it. These are the tools that we need to give our children so they can go on to be fabulous, independent, and confident adults.

To learn more about all the positive aspects of drama in school, please see the article: Why Drama is so Important in School

CONFIDENCE – Part 7 of Why Drama is so Important in School was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

TEAM BUILDING – PART 6 – Why Drama is so Important in School

Part 6 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – TEAM BUILDING Working together is so important in life, yet we don’t teach this skill anywhere in school. Sure, many kids get some of this piece from sports, but not every kid plays sports. Hence the reason we need more team building…

TEAM BUILDING – PART 6 – Why Drama is so Important in School was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

The Tempest Thunder Sound

I have directed Shakespeare’s Tempest for Kids at least 6 different times, and the costumes and kids always change. But, one thing is consistent, the THUNDER TUBE! I use this great drum thunder tube by REMO to make all the thunder sounds during the play. The kids LOVE it… so much that they want to…

The Tempest Thunder Sound was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Treasure Island: Rum or Gum?

I recently had the privilege to watch a video of a school group in New Jersey perform my Treasure Island for Kids, and of course, it was AWESOME! That being said, one thing I kept noticing…. they were saying “Rum” incorrectly… but wait! No, they weren’t, they were saying “Gum”!

When re-writing classics tales like I do, I do my best to stick to the original plotline as much as possible.  However, there are several times where that’s not possible. Sometimes with the length of the story or around specific content covered in the stories.  And Treasure Island is no different, because, when it comes to pirates, they drink rum! And there are no mixing words when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island, those pirates drank their rum!

I specifically remember wavering around this point when writing, if I should talk about rum or not. In the end, I stayed to the storyline and hoped that schools and directors would make modifications as they felt necessary.  Well, good for this school… as those pirates were constantly searching for their GUM!

So, if you are performing Treasure Island, and don’t feel comfortable using the word rum, you are MORE THAN WELCOME to substitute GUM in there!

Until next time, have fun on the stage!

Treasure Island: Rum or Gum? was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

Shakespeare in Mime

A theater group in India has put together a performance of The Tempest, done completely in mime.  Designed specifically for grade school kids, in the fear that Shakespeare is leaving schools, this performance relies entirely on actions. No words, which makes the story telling that much more challenging.  Read more about this impressive performance here in the New Indian Express.

As a classroom exercise, have your kids mime a short part of one of Shakespeare’s plays. You really need to be expressive and understand the language in order to deliver a mimed performance effectively.  This will be great fun!

Let me know how it goes!

Shakespeare in Mime was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books