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…
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.
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
Part 2 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – CREATIVITY Sherlock Holmes once questioned what the point was of filling his brain with useless facts, in this particular case, the Earth revolving around the Sun. As he would rather fill his brain with useful facts. Although I don’t completely agree with his philosophy,…
Traveling soon and have kids? Well then, there is no better time to stop by a Shakespeare Festival. Family trips can be mundane and boring on the road, However, there are great ways to mix this up. You can play road games, you can stop by random bizarre sites along the way like a giant blue ox or motels made out of teepees or my favorite, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (BEST. ICE CREAM. EVER). Or you can stop somewhere fabulous for some great Shakespeare! Guess what!? In most cities you can find great Shakespeare Festivals pretty easily!
Educators always say, and I’m sure you have heard this before, the best way to understand Shakespeare is to see Shakespeare PERFORMED (and even more so, perform it yourself!). Well, across the country and around the world there are festivals literally everywhere. The coolest part are the different venues. Some are in replica Globe Theaters: (San Diego, Ashland, Utah) others are in a park, others set on a lake, and so on… beautiful venues for beautiful theater.
I have composed a list of Shakespeare Festivals to make it easy to find a show around the globe while you’re on the road!
So the next road trip you are on, I expect to see a great photo of you and your family with the Shakespeare Festival you just visited!
If you run or are part of a Shakespeare Festival and you are not listed on my Shakespeare festival page, please let me know and I will be sure to add your organization.
Part 1 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – COMPREHENSION
I received an email a few weeks ago from a teacher using my books/plays for her students because she wanted them to improve their skills in reading comprehension. She wrote the following to me:
“I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was, “I have already read that once and do not need to repeat.” But, by introducing this as a play that needed to be word-perfect and beginning on page 1 each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show, not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.”
— LaVelle Brown, Special Ed teacher
Many schools are missing or losing performing arts classes due to budget cuts. I’m writing a 12-part piece about why we do drama in school, where I present valuable reasons why we need theater in our education systems and why it’s critical to continue supporting it.
One of these reasons is COMPREHENSION. I’ve had a number of teachers and parents use my books or enroll their child in my classes to boost their understanding of language. Drama is amazing for this development!
Think about it:
- Do kids only read a passage once in class? Typically, yes. Therefore, perform a play!
- Participating in a play or a skit allows students to read the passages multiple times. By learning their lines they support their growth in comprehension.
- Do you want kids to understand the storyline, theme, or see the “big picture”? Be in a performance!
- We rehearse dozens of times before we actually perform on stage or in front of an audience. Didn’t get the concept on the first pass… how about the 30th? Yep, comprehension increases with every pass through the material.
- Do you want to learn about a time in history? Do a play!
Through rehearsals, performances, costume creation and design, comprehension is assimilated often without the participants even realizing it.
From a purely scientific perspective, repetitive review of a script creates new neuro-pathways in the brain, which leads to long-term comprehension skills. Isn’t that one of our goals as teachers, to help improve the brain?
It’s more than just “doing a play”, it’s about creating a more robust child that will make a difference in our future.
I would love to hear your thoughts about drama in school!
Over the next several weeks and months I’ll be writing a 12-part series about why drama is so important in schools. I’ll be covering several different aspects of the benefits of why we do drama, what it gives our kids that very few extra-curricular activities can give, as well as ideas and suggestions on to how to make theater…
Readers Theater is always a fun time, and even more so with my melodramatic stories which are short and funny. But, they are even funnier with a family reunion. As we all know who the hams are in our families, don’t we?
This past holiday season, when our family came together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas, we did a readers theater three different times (it’s officially a family tradition now!) What a BLAST! My son made sure he was the director, and he gave out 3-4 books that we all shared. Then he made impromptu costumes that we all put on and read our parts (or multiple parts in some cases). I never thought about using my books for a large team building get-together. However, doing readers theater at a family reunion is fantastic for building new and cherished memories.
What a wonderful way to hang out and make great new memories with the family! We performed Jungle Book for Kids two different times at Thanksgiving, and then did Treasure Island for Kids at Christmas (one would think we would do A Christmas Carol for Kids, but nooooo). This was great for all our ages, from 6 to 96!
Next year we have already planned to do Macbeth (the nieces want to be witches!) and Julius Caesar (can’t wait to kill of Uncle Louie!) What fun to do a family readers theater during our family reunion.
Another rendition a friend of mine is doing at their family reunion, since they have over 50 family members, is a family competition. They are going to break them up into random teams, and then all perform. Best performance gets to eat first! When m
y plays are only 15 minutes, it’ goes by quick and with much laughter!
I hope you enjoy the same!
So, I always have fun and do my best to work the laughs for the audience in my melodramatic Shakespeare for Kids plays. That’s certainly true with my performance of Julius Caesar for Kids! I used one specific prop to get some laughs. The Magic 8 Ball! (find it here on Amazon) That’s right, the soothsayer came out to warn Caesar about the “Ides of March” and then pulled out the Magic 8-ball to prove it so! The audience loved it, and, more importantly, the kids loved using it! Fun for all!
In order to celebrate the launch of my 13th book, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book for Kids, I put together a little “Did you know?” page. It’s different things we learned along the path of creating this melodramatic 15 minute play from the original works of Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Enjoy!
DID YOU KNOW?
1) Disney’s cartoon version of The Jungle Book didn’t follow Rudyard Kipling’s actual story, it was “inspired” more than “based” on the book
2) The Jungle Book is a collection of 7 short stories and 7 songs
3) Kipling wrote a play version of the The Jungle Book that was never published or produced onstage
4) The monkeys in The Jungle Book are called the Bandar-log. In Hindi, “Bandar” means monkey, and “log” means people. That’s why they are known as the “monkey-people”!
5) Rudyard Kipling was born in India, where the stories of The Jungle Book take place
6) Akela means “lone” or “solitary” in Hindi
7) Cub Scouts adopted the character of Akela (the wolf) as their symbol of leadership
8) The name Mowgli is a made up word that is supposed to mean “frog” in the stories
9) Mowgli is supposed to be pronounced “Mow-gli” with Mow rhyming with cow
10) Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, drew some of the illustrations used in the original magazine publications of The Jungle Book stories
11) Tabaqui, the jackal, is pronounced Tabarky and he made up this name himself
12) There is an actual Kipling Society where you can learn all about Rudyard
13) ‘Shere’ means “Tiger” in some Indian dialects. And Khan is a title; implying Chief of the Tigers
14) ‘Baloo’ is Hindi for “Bear”
15) ‘Bagheera’ is Hindi for, you guessed it, “Panther”
16) ‘Kaa’ is actually pronounced, “Kar”
17) Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is one of The Jungle Book stories
18) ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’ is pronounced, “Rikky-tikki-tar-vi”
19) ‘Nag’ the snake is pronounced, “Narg”
20) Rudyard Kipling wrote a sequel to The Jungle Book called, The Second Jungle Book
21) There is no King Louie in the original book
22) Rudyard is his middle name: Joseph Rudyard Kipling
23) Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907
24) The founder of the Boy Scouts personally asked Kipling’s permission to use names and images from The Jungle Book
25) Kipling admitted stealing some of the stories of The Jungle Book from other authors.