If you want to work on a play place the responsibility on the students from the start. Ask if they think they're ready to work on a performance, if they think they can follow the rules and work together. For older children, ask who would be available for extra jobs such as prop manager, costumes, sound, lighting.... Ask them when they think the best date would be. Have one already in your head and guide the debate to where you want it to go. Once you have set a date for the performance slowly turn the class into full rehearsals. Deadlines are a wonderful thing; they push a person to the limit and, once reached, fills one with a sense of achievement. Maybe the best feeling of all is achieving a goal.
From the very beginning be consistent with the rules, which are presented as part of a game (every game has rules). Most important, say what you have to say once. If the class is slow to respond remind the children it is their time they're wasting, not yours.
Establish complete silence before the actors onstage - at the front of the class - begin. Raise your hand and say, once and quietly: Silence. At first it may take some time before the class is still, but it quickly gets faster. When it is completely quiet say "Ready", and bring the hand down sharply: "Action!" All the children will say Action with you, they love it. They look up at the hand praying for it to go down so they can say it.
A script is something special, a contract between the individual and the group. Make certain names are on all copies, and that everyone has highlighted their lines. Always have a few extras
with COPY, in red, on the cover.
It would be a good thing to film everything, the mimes, improvisations and rehearsals, to have a good amount of images that can be edited. Older students can film as well.
For The Mango Tree we used panels placed on a table.
There were openings in the panels so puppets could appear.
There are many ways to create a stage.
One solution to create a stage is cover garment racks with material. Place two or three side by side as the backdrop, and one or two on either side of your stage. They come with wheels, but leave them off for the backdrops and the sides. You can roll extra racks on and off for the different scenes. You can have two scenes on one rack, one on either side, all you have to do is turn it around. The change of scenery should be, in itself, an act, a choreography. I often used the racks for windows or for puppet theatre.
As the date nears push students to their maximum. At the same time make sure they know it’s not the end of the world if there’s a mistake during the performance. Tell them to hope for the best and expect the worst - something will most likely happen not as planned. Improvise, enjoy yourself while you’re onstage.
Sometimes the mistake is the best part of the performance.
A performance is always exciting for children. Either with a large group or with just one child and a parent, it's fun to put on a show. It is also an excellent way to assimilate a language.
Children learn how to present themselves, exploit their creative talents, work as a team, and strive for perfection.
On this page is a guide on how to make the experience of a performance, rehearsals and so forth, pleasant yet disciplined. The objective is to maximize creativity without the anarchy.