Create a Performance Playbill

This is a short post about an activity you can do with your kids as you get ready for the show.  As many of us directors know, there are an endless number of things you can do to prepare for the performance.  IN NO WAY, am I suggesting that you need to do a lot of things to have a successful performance.  ( I typically do very few and the kids still have a blast!) However, in many cases, there are extra things that you and/or your kids will want to do. 

One of those fun and creative things is to create a brochure for the show.  Some people call this a playbill. And one such homeschool mom created a wonderful playbill for her parents during their performance of our version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids. As you can see from the photo, they did a wonderful job!

This is a great homework or extracurricular activity for the kids.  Someone can figure out how to lay this out on the computer, other’s get to draw for cover and back cover, and others get to print and assemble them together. It’s another hands-on learning experience.

Well, if you do this for your next play, please, let us know and send some photos!

Create a Performance Playbill was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

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Creative Performance Ideas

This is a quick post about a couple ideas that are awesome, and all credit goes to an amazing homeschool mom, Amy.

Recently Amy directed her small homeschool co-op in one of our plays, The Tempest for Kids. In doing so, she decided to perform it in their backyard, inspired by our own Backyard Shakespeare. That being said, she quickly renamed it, BackBARD Shakespeare… clever!  But, her ideas did not stop there, no.  Her kids and she came up with a couple other brilliant ideas that I think many of you directors of creative drama students could use.

First, the kids did a commercial halfway through the show. How awesome is that?  Part of their homework was to create a “Shakespearean” commercial, and plan, write, block, and direct it.  Brilliant for kids who either have smaller roles or need a bit more to keep them occupied and challenged.

Second. Create an epilogue. Now, some of Shakespeare’s plays already have an epilogue, but many do not. With The Tempest, there was none and the kids were very curious about what was going to happen when (spoiler alert) the gang got off the island and Miranda and Ferdinand got married!  So, again, the kids wrote and directed their own piece and it turns out that they had a baby! (cut to one of the small homeschool siblings now coming on stage as their “son”)

Too cute and a classic great use of education!  Bravo! Well done Amy!  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next show!

Creative Performance Ideas was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books

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

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

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

Backyard Shakespeare – A Homeschool Experience

Backyard Shakespeare. What is that, you may ask. Well, it’s a very ingenious and creative way to engage homeschooled kids with Shakespeare, education, language arts, drama, and most importantly, fun!  

I recently had the privilege to teach a group of 7 kids Playing With Plays The Tempest for Kids and we had a BLAST! Best part, we did it in the backyard of a house of one of the homeschooling families.  Their deck was a natural stage. So, a few costumes, a few scripts, a few rehearsals, and BAM! We’ve got a fun, melodramatic Shakespeare play performing in the backyard!

I’ve seen this done in the past with many of my plays, but this was the first time I got to do it. The best part, you can do a performance ANYWHERE! The parents bring a blanket or lawn chairs, and you have an instant theater!

 

Backyard Shakespeare – A Homeschool Experience was originally published on Shakespeare for Kids Books