Posts Tagged ‘Mom’
This week we continued with our rehearsals and welcomed back that bundle of energy better known ans Stage Manager Shelby, who has been invaluable in her willingness to not only organize and clarify in true stage management fashion, but has also begun lending us her expertise in helping with the musical details.
There has been a lot of absenteeism, and a couple more kids have dropped out of the project this week. But we have our core group of the little faithfuls as well as the energetic weekenders whose mom’s busy schedules preclude their attending the weekday rehearsals. The show itself will be more of a recital, and hopefully low key, fun and a way for our students to learn the joy of creativity and collaborative work.
I just couldn’t stop thinking about al those shining young faces at auditions and all the disappointment they registered at the knowledge that the show was not going on. So I thought instead perhaps to do a musical revue type of show, and the idea engendered a great deal of positive response! Luckily a wonderful mom of one of the kids is a voice teacher and she has agreed to help out, and so now we are on a completely different kind of journey. I hope this idea allows the kids to build their skills and their confidence and to revel in the experience of singing and dancing onstage. Here we go!
In November I received a note from a mom worried about some of the experiences her teenage daughter was having at rehearsals for a show she was in. This was my response, beginning appropriately enough I think with an apology for taking so long in getting back to her!
First, I would like to apologize for having taken so long to get back to you again. Things here have taken on a whirlwind pace, and though I am very thankful for that, I do feel bad about neglecting you for so long!
I imagine that the show went very well and that you and your child were happy with the experience after it was all over. The magic that happens when that curtain goes up can soothe a lot of hard feelings brought on by personality differences and stress from the long hours of rehearsal with a director that it sounds like has a very different style of working with the children than you and your child would have been comfortable with.
And yes, I think it is not excusable to forget this: these are actors, but first and most importantly they are children. My personal opinion is that as we are working with children, everything we do with them must be of benefit to them. Why else should a child be involved? At this time in their lives we owe it to them to make sure that every experience they have will encourage growth, be it growth of their cognitive, social or emotional selves, and that there is no excuse for “guilting” a child into participation.
Many times I think that we in the theatre are seen as unpredictable and outrageous, and that excuses are made for unpleasant or irresponsible behavior from directors or actors as being due to the “artistic temperament.” I do not agree with this concession; espeically in our work with children I feel that theatre expereinces are such excellent vehicles for teaching the joy of working collarboratively, the important skills of connecting with other humans, of really listening to and communicating with one another, that it is to me inexcusable to forget to pay attention to these things in a flurry of adult egos and control issues and the stress of getting a show up.
And yes, I feel it is important to remember that children must have enough rest, and must have enough time to just be kids. In the last few weeks of rehearsal this is a huge challenge, and everyone is often so exhausted by the time the show is over that if one is not careful illness and emotional upsets can be quite common. So I think it is important to oay attention to how much we ask of them. To make sure that they are not kept too late at rehearsals in the evenings. I like to schedule the longer rehearsals for weekend afternoons if possible; it can be time for catching up with all the cast members, little ones can attend without being exhausted the next day or having bedtime routines disrupted.
But it is all a juggling act. It is a challenge to keep things healthy for young people while working on such an intense project, there is no getting around that! But yes, I think there are ways to safeguard the emotional and physical well being of the kids while creating something wonderful for the stage.
I hope I have answered some of your questions, and perhaps offered you some ideas for what you might look for in future acting projects for your daughter. Please feel free to write again if you have further question or if I can be of service to you in any other way.
Please take care, and best of everything to you and your family!
Director, Center Stage Youth Theatre
I have been thinking for a while of another kind of project I’d like to do. I am not sure where to begin, but I know it is a project I want to work on with my mom, who would be perfect for the job.
I’ve been thinking for while that elderly people might get a lot out of writing, rehearsing and performing an original creation based on significant events in their lives. I want to help them write monologues – a la Quilters or Spoon River Anthology – and have them tell…oh goodness i am not sure what – the single defining moment in their lives? (I don’t ask for much, do I?) But I do know that everyone’s story is interesting and we can learn from the perspective of what older folks have seen and done and survived and processed. And it seems to me that the experience of creating and performing might fill a real need in the lives of many elderly people for a creative outlet. For some of them it might be a completely new experience in so many ways.
I remember reading (listening to) May Sarton’s last book and it made such an impression on me when she said she was hoping for one thing at the end of her life: another good poem. “That’s the thing that still might happen, you see” she said. Her statement has really stayed with me – that at the end of her life when so much was over for her, she still had that ideal in her mind, that she might possibly create another satisfying, beautiful poem.
My mom, with her background in teaching writing, would be a great asset to the entire project. I have got to get going on this. I can’t think of any way it could fail, as every part of the project – from the writing through the editing and rehearsing and performing – would be as rewarding and useful for the participants as any other part.
Just this past Tuesday I got the wonderful news from Headmaster Chris Winkler at Glenforest School – http://www.glenforest.org/pages/difference.php – that I am to be their new drama teacher starting this fall. This is an absolute dream come true, and gives me one more reason to feel I have been led to Columbia for a reason. Other than the fact that my really cool mom lives here, i mean.
In addition, Glenforest has offered me the opportunity to locate Center Stage Youth Theatre in their building, so…we now have a home!
Some of my favorite experiences have when I have had the opportunity to work in the theatre with kids who have non-verbal learning differences. I find it fascinating to observe these young folks as they try to decipher their way through an acting task, or even the first rehearsal. I have also noticed that the other children in the groups I have worked with – the so-called typically abled – have been, on the whole, incredibly patient and supportive of their affected cast mates.
I found a great post on one family’s blog here: http://blueskyplans.blogspot.com/2004/07/asbergers-and-theater.html The Dad posts very clearly the way that child with Asperger’s Syndrome can be encouraged and nurtured in his or her development of the subtle ways we understand each other and our emotions in everyday conversation through the use of rehearsal and performance experiences. He compares it to the way that special educators use social stories with kids to teach proper human responses, but points out that this kind of activity goes many steps further.
I have noticed that sometimes a child with learning differences will be introduced to me that way by his parent, but often I am the one to go the the parent after the first meeting and say, “Can you tell me a little about your child?” I always try to approach the parent with care;
it is often clear that the mom or dad had been fostering hopes that this was one place that their child might be thought of as “just a kid” with no labels, no accommodations, no special attention focused on them. But sometimes it is not enough, and though there have been tears at the thought that their young person is again having to struggle, almost all parent are subsequently eager to help me understand their child and how to best help them to be successful. For that is what we strive for – success for every child, no matter the learning style or the communication style.
This week I met with Mr. Chris Winkler, headmaster of the Glenforest School,http://www.glenforest.org/, to discuss beginning a drama program at Glenforest and also to talk with him about working out a situation where I could possibly use the Glenforest facility for Center Stage community programs such as our classes and workshops, and perhaps even having access to their auditorium for our plays.
Glenforest is a school for kids with learning differences. I have long wished for an opportunity to work with this population of students and feel that the social interaction inherent in theatre arts acitivities, be it onstage or off, is just one of the ways we can reach and help students within this set of qualities. I am the mom of two sons with ADD and other issues, bright and creative kids who struggled to be successful in the public school system. A program such as the one Glenforest offers would have made such a difference in their lives.
I look forward to meeting with Mr. Winkler as well as with Dean of Students Barton Calvert, a member of the faculty, board and parents organizations in the next week. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.