Author Topic: SMing children!  (Read 4888 times)

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Jaymbles

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SMing children!
« on: May 11, 2007, 05:11 pm »
I'm about to begin my first professional gig and I have a bit of an issue.

I'm going to be SMing three productions at the Capital Playhouse in Olympia this summer and I'm fairly nervous because they do children's theater. For each show, I'll be responsible for a cast of 25 to 50 actors, ages 8-18. I've never worked with kids before but I'm saavy enough to realize that it's probably a whole other ballgame. Can anyone give me some advice on common issues/ what to expect/ things to adjust with managing lil' chittlens?

avkid

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2007, 05:19 pm »
Definitely remember to watch your language, and the props.
Philip LaDue
Shore Production Group LLC
IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

KMC

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 06:35 pm »
Oy, I do not envy you.  Best of luck.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

Jaymbles

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2007, 07:04 pm »
Ack! Aren't you supposed to be making me feel better  ;)

ChaCha

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2007, 07:58 pm »
There's a thread somewhere about ways to keep kids occupied when offstage...

Another thing to keep in mind is the need to have clear strategies for the handover between parents and theatre at each call. But the theatre probably has policies for all this if they always work with kids.

stay patient and have a sense of play.

and chookas!
ChaCha

zayit shachor

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2007, 09:58 pm »
Definitely take advantage of the fact that you'll have older teenagers as well as kids - I'm not saying you should get them to babysit or anything, but having older kids around as role models is a good thing.

I'm SMing kids this summer too - good luck!

megf

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 11:27 pm »
Purell, purell, purell! Especially near the pencil cups.

BREAK A LEG!

sailor_sam

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2007, 02:48 am »
Keep the the call times and the younger kids in mind.  The longer that the younger (8-11 year olds) are in rehearsal the louder and less focused they get.   

When I do children's theater I always try to greet the kids by name when they sign in (at the production table) and ask how their day was and make light conversation with each of my young actors.   I have also found that getting a routine together such as playing a particular  warm up game at each rehearsal, or taking a break at X hour, helps the kids focus and such.   


I am sure that you are going to do great and have a blast, a smile can go a long way!


Jessie_K

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2007, 04:36 pm »
Parent volunteers.

Parent volunteers.

Write up a letter to send home the first day with the kids.  Ask each parent to sign up to be a backstage/ dressing monitor for at least one performance.

Give the job of setting up the green for the kids to parents.  Have them bring in DVD's etc to entertain the young ones while not onstage.

Have parents be in charge of escorting groups of children to and from the stage.

ljh007

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2007, 08:09 pm »
It sounds like you won't be working with any this young, but when working with very young children (5 years and younger), here are a few things to add to your kit:
- hand sanitizer, and lots of it
- Airborne, Emergen-C or whatever you take to boost your immunity... and lots of it
- baby wipes - for messy mouths, snotty noses, etc
- a couple of pull-ups diapers (those transitional diapers toddlers wear)
- a couple of extra pants and extra shirts that have flexible fit. If the kid has an accident, these will save everyone's day
- a few gallon-size freezer bags for storing the clothes the kid was wearing when s/he had an accident
- plenty of fun band-aids (Spiderman might be nice right now)

Also with very young kids, you need to prepare them for aspects of the theatrical environment that they might find frightening. They might find the darkness backstage scary, so take a minute early in rehearsals to sit with them, show them around, introduce the scary biker stagehands (who are always nice as can be), and reassure the kids that they are safe. They might be scared by the bright lights, so practice bringing up the light levels while they're onstage (if you can). They might be terrified of the soprano screeching her aria in their ear while she clutches her child actor - so make sure they spend time with the performer beforehand and that she explains how she acts and sings. Again, reassure the child that they are safe and be sure that they feel comfortable. Make sure the child knows what to expect. Let them ask questions and give them honest and informative answers. Also take time to talk with the child about reacting (specifically NOT reacting) when the audience laughs. Be sure the child knows where to look or whom to watch so that the kid isn't gawking distractedly at anything on- or offstage. Give them focus and they'll do well in performance. If there is violence, cursing, blood, or death onstage, talk with the child about it - ideally with the parents present - and reassure the child that no one really dies or is hurt in this theatre. We are pretending. Kids do understand this, but they get scared.... well, when the acting is convincing.

But in general, keep your patience and watch your language. Kids are observant and inquisitive, and might like to ask questions of you constantly. If you give them respectful, simple answers, they will appreciate it and generally cooperate with you. Take the time to explain why they have to stand in a line when preparing for their entrance. Be ready to check shoelaces, glasses, bubblegum when preparing them. Remind them that safety is important backstage, and assure them that they are in a safe place. Keep your sense of fun and your calm demeanor.

sailor_sam

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2007, 01:16 am »
one more thing from me...

try never to be left alone with a child or the children.  Try to always have a least another adult in the room.  If you find yourself in a situation like that leave the door open so that people can see/here the rehearsal.

This is coming from personal experience when I found myself alone with the kids, and parent (who I later found out was an Asst. District Attorney) mentioned that I should never be alone with a child/children, because I could be accused with a bunch of stuff (I think you know that I am talking about).    But most children theaters have policies on this.       

Balletdork

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2007, 10:10 am »

But in general, keep your patience and watch your language. Kids are observant and inquisitive, and might like to ask questions of you constantly. If you give them respectful, simple answers, they will appreciate it and generally cooperate with you....Remind them that safety is important backstage, and assure them that they are in a safe place. Keep your sense of fun and your calm demeanor.

I couldn't agree more! It's also important to remember that you will impact these kids lives- really! They will remember you and look up to you. I still get emails, graduation announcements and general updates from a couple of the kids who were in community casts of mine almost 10 years ago!




oso_te_great

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Re: SMing children!
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2007, 04:50 pm »
Definitely remember to watch your language, and the props.

Remember, if you say "Shit" you really said "ship", and if you said "Fuck" you said "duck"

also child actors are notorious for leaving props all OVER the place, i believe that besides the director, the props manager has the hardest job in children's theatre.
Malcolm Foster
Seattle Academy Class of 2007
University of Montana Class of 2011

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