Author Topic: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?  (Read 17715 times)

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Jonas_A

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #15 on: Apr 17, 2011, 10:52 am »
I annually SM a primary school show where all of them perform in their classes. 10 minutes of performance + >90 mins of waiting around backstage = chaos. Like everyone else has said, having some parents/older people around can be a big help. I usually procure a TV (last year we used a projector - that was popular!) and put the video relay on it. Because the kids don't get to see any of the other acts, it usually keeps them pretty enthralled.

'Divide and conquer' is useful, if you can make it work. Give some of the mature ones responsibility over some younger ones and it usually works well.


Cedes

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2011, 11:16 pm »
A reward system always worked well for me, for all ages.  During the run, keep record of the days that you do not have to talk to them.  If they hit a certian day, we were able to give them a pizza party.  It worked well, and the older ones eventually kept the younger ones in check-I think they wanted the pizza more.   :o

hyperactress23

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2011, 11:32 am »
We usually have dressing room moms assigned to each room, and an ASM (on headset) in charge of fetching kids when they're needed. (The leads are usually pretty responsible for themselves, although there's been times when we've had eight-year-olds wrangling their twelve-year-old costars without being asked... This system is mostly for the chorus kids.) We have dressing rooms near enough to the stage that kids are not allowed out of them until the scene before they are needed, then there is a sort of holding area (where the stairs to the pit are) before the wings. The holding area has tile floor, and the wings have wood, so we tell them to get off the wood but no talking once they're out of the dressing room. If they whisper in the holding area, it's not a huge deal, which is why we keep them there.

In the dressing rooms, they are allowed to talk, bring homework/games/books/etc., as long as it doesn't get too loud. If it's a show where they have huge chunks of time between scenes, the room mom for that room often asks permission to bring a portable DVD player and a movie, and as long as the mom is ready to pause the DVD as soon as the ASM in charge of the kids says they're needed.

I've found one of my problems with noisy kids is that the mothers insist their child needs help with costume changes (and perhaps the kid does), but then insists on staying in the dressing room, undermining the mom who has been assigned to that room, and sending the kids out to me when they aren't needed. Then the kid comes out and talks, and must be sent back to their room and reprimanded for obeying their parents. No matter how many times the director addresses this, it doesn't change, and we can't ban the moms from the dressing rooms because if we did then the kids wouldn't get changed in time.

BlueRidgeSM

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2011, 09:44 am »
I have used two methods with some success, depending on the situation...

If the noisy kids in question are actually *in* the show, and it's a large show (cast of 30+) there is no room for them in our dressing rooms or the green room.  We typically assign a mom to keep the kids in the black box theatre downstairs and then one of my ASMs coordinates bringing them upstairs in time for their scene.  The moms keep the kids entertained with movies, coloring books, etc.  Of course, this only usually works with the younger children, up to about age 12.  The teenagers typically hang out in the green room and dressing rooms with the adults.  No one is allowed in the wings until just prior to their entrance as our stage is very wide and people in the wings can very easily be seen from the house.

I also have stage managed several shows where an adult in the show is a single parent with kid(s) and will occasionally bring the kid(s) to rehearsal.  For community theatre where the actor is not getting paid, I can understand this as it can be a hardship for the single parent actor to pay a babysitter every single night they are called for rehearsal.  My only real rule regarding this is that *I* am not the babysitter and the parent/actor must ensure the kid is quiet and does not disrupt rehearsal.  Usually in this case they bring homework, a gameboy, or recently even an iPad to watch movies on.  This usually works out fine - where we start to have issues is when multiple parents in the show bring multiple children to rehearsal and then it is really hard to prevent the kids from just sitting and talking the entire time we are rehearsing.  Again, something they can watch/do quietly (gameboy, movie, etc) is key.   

Maggie K

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #19 on: Feb 10, 2012, 07:02 pm »
I have frequently worked as a child wrangler and have found a few things that work.  It does work really well to have someone, whether a parent or ASM, assigned to be with the kids.  I've always liked having a separate space where the kids can hang out and be loud.  For one show I even took the kids outside to run some energy off.  The thing to remember is that most kids are probably coming from being cooped up at school and have been having to stay still and quiet most of the day.  Providing a space where they can just be kids for a while really helps.  During long techs if the kids aren't used for chunks of time I often set up a movie.  I always have quiet games, like chess and cards, available and even ask the kids to bring their own in as well.  Electronics are okay as long as they keep them quiet and don't fight over them.  One thing that is popular with all ages is coloring.  Hit the dollar store for a bunch of coloring books and crayons or colored pencils.  Each group of kids is different.  Just lay down the rules early, enforce them, and provide some distractions.
I like the ephemeral thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost - it's there and then it's gone. -Maggie Smith

megan.s.lehr

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #20 on: Feb 12, 2012, 12:23 am »
Personally for my theatre we have kids 13-19 and we can never get them to be quiet so we create a green room outside and in our school band room to keep the kids in till; they are ready, it lets them get out there energy without killing the audience with there noise, they time it so they know when to be backstage or not.
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RBSchaf94

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #21 on: Feb 27, 2012, 10:37 am »
We recently finished up a production of "A Little Princess", which included a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. They both had big problems with noise, and tried to sit next to me in the audience while I took blocking notes. So, I made them a little slip-table from scrap wood in the shop that fits over two of our seats, gave them a pack of markers, and let them scribble all over it. No clue why it worked so well, but it kept them busy for the rest of the week!

lawvd

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My 1st Community theatre experience was a production of Annie. One hundred & fifty  auditionees later- we had a cast of 12 kids aged 5-13. We required as a condition of auditioning/casting- a commitment by the parents to sign up as BSP's- Backstage Parents. As this was community theatre- we had the parents sign the agreement at auditions- it layed out what we were requiring from the parents. It worked very well. Most parents were more than willing to be involved. They were the BSP's. They reported to the ASM. I think giving them a 'title' helped.
We used books, video games, 'homework', cards and 'quiet games' such as chess & checkers. However- we still needed to have an occasions 'chat' to remind the cast (as a whole) about the 'quiet during rehearsal & backstage' etiquette.
I love this title! "Kid wrangler" has always seemed just a little demeaning to me.

My experience agrees with others' that cards can end up creating an even bigger problem. The games can get very competitive and therefore loud. Solitaire maybe?

omaira17

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #23 on: Jul 31, 2012, 12:07 pm »
We have a rule at our theatre that for any show with more than 4 kids requires a Parent "Child Wrangler". The parents picked are chosen by the SM and ASM's since we are the ones having to deal with them directly. Some of their duties and functions are as follows:

Arriving early to rehearsals and performances (30 mins before actor's call time) to prepare the area the kids will be housed at.
Checking in each child upon arrival.
Handing out "quiet time" games, books, and such (we have a box full of old books, magazines, puzzle books, coloring books, crayons, cards, etc.)
Getting them to/from stage when called.
Taking them to/from bathrooms.
Sending out Parent Info Emails.
Signing kids out to a parent at the end of the night.

During our recent production of Annie, we had all of the kids make cards, letters, pictures, etc. for the Memory book. We even allowed them to bring in cameras and take pictures for the book. At the end of the run all the cards, letters and pictures were put in a scrapbook for the Director as a Thank You from the kids.
They loved being creative and making something for someone.

We did tell all of the parents (in a nice email) that they have to have something quiet and productive for their child to do during rehearsals and performances. Some allowed them to have a handheld video game, others sent in items for all of the kids to do and share.
We also informed the parents via email after rehearsals on how well their child behaved or didn't behave. Since most of the parents constantly beg us for their child to be used in our yearly production involving kids, they understand that if we don't like working with your child....we won't cast them again.
In our case, sending those email updates allowed the parents to be more involved with making sure their kids are quiet, and busy during down time.

My ASM's are too busy to handle all of the individual issues with each child, therefore having the Child Wranglers there helps us greatly. Having more than 1 is ideal because there is always someone with the kids if 1 child needs to use the bathroom or something.

Caroline Naveen

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Re: PEOPLE: How to keep kids *quietly* busy at rehearsal?
« Reply #24 on: Jun 11, 2013, 12:19 pm »
I'm working as Child Guardian/Wrangler for a show and had an issue with a previous one with people bring Ipads (scary moment when one was lost we did find it though.) I don't want to be responsible for anything being lost or broken but at the same time their such great occupiers for the kids complete silence for almost the entire show....What should I do? Should I include in the welcome E-mail something like this:

Your child is welcome to bring something to do quietly as there may be large periods of time during the rehearsal process, tech week, and the performances where your child will be asked to sit quietly and wait for their turn to perform. Expensive electronic items such as Ipods, Ipads, and Kindles are not suggested, and we will not be responsible for the loss or damage of these items. Some great things to bring would be books, coloring books, quiet board games etc.

Should I take the chance and see if they will be quiet with these new items or should I just let them bring the electronics?

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