Not Just for Kids
Vol. 9, No. 30
July 26 - August 1, 2001
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How to Put on a Play
by Ariel Brumbaugh; Photos by Mike Brewer

They were a fake plastic orange, plus they were wet, which made sitting in uncertainty on these chairs even more uncomfortable. Four figures, myself included, balanced on the edge of our seats, faced away from the game, listening for our names. I had never been to a casting at a soccer game. At half-time, our attention turned from the game to the grave look in our directors’ faces.

We were about to learn not only our roles in this year’s musical, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but also what our directors really thought of us. And so with our backs to the soccer match, we listened.

I was disappointed. My heart was set on the mischievous character, Puck. Instead, I would be the beautiful fairy queen Titania.

With our curtain going up this weekend, I have grown content with my role.

|As The Fairhaven Youth Theatre Group found out this year, character casting is tough. But that’s the second step in putting on a play. The first step can be just as complicated.

Choosing a Play
Everyone wants what they like best. Some want to sing, so they like musicals; others like a ballet like The Nutcracker; and some like any play in which they can picture themselves the star.

For a beginner, the easiest type of play is a classic. You want to be able to twist the storyline to fit your needs, and you don’t want to pay royalties on a copyrighted play. A good first play might be Cinderella, or a fable like Rumplestiltskin. Choose something simple, with an-easy-to-follow plot and easy-to-understand language. Stay away from Shakespeare.

Assign Characters
This step is based on your company and your directors’ opinion about who is most fit for each part.

Remember height, hair color or other physical descriptions. For instance, Annie can’t be a blonde, so if you don’t want to supply a wig, pick the reddest head you have. Choose your characters based on experience, and pay attention to performer preference.

Editing the Script
If you’ve chosen a play without copyrights, then you can edit the script. Make your play as short as you want. Take out lines you don’t like or don’t think the audience will understand. Replace words you can’t pronounce, or in songs change words that don’t make sense with the storyline.

Learning Your Lines
This goes for songs, too. Memorizing is more effective in a group because everyone learns their part together and everyone helps everyone else.

Start by reading the entire script. Then add feeling to your words.

Highlight your lines to avoid confusion.

Fun Stuff
Use your imagination to design costumes, make-up, scenery and props.

Organization is the key to success. Make-up should be fully applied at least once before the performance. I made that mistake when I played the Tin Man, hoping to save face paint; then I had a bad reaction to the make-up the night of the performance.

Staging is working out positions on the stage and movements for songs and dances. Two things which I am constantly reminded to do:

  1. Face the audience. They want to see your lovely face, and
  2. Keep moving, or the audience will get bored.

Some people worry about stage fright. Being someone who was scared to death in her first performance, I can give you a few tips. The worst thing you can do is freeze so the best antidote is to look over the audience and picture something silly. I think you’ll find, as I did, that when you get on stage, the lights focused on you are so bright and the rest of the room so dark that you can’t see anyone in the audience anyway.

Invite your family and friends, and break a leg!

Tired of the same old plays?

Write your own script! Design you own characters and plot - all your own ideas!

  1. Create a plot.
  2. Create a script.
  3. Pick characters.
  4. Costumes, makeup, props and scenery.
  5. Put on the show.

Good Luck and, as they say in theater, “Break a Leg!”
– Emelia Brumbaugh

Kids Calander

Things That Go Hop In the Night - Sat. July 28 (10-10:30am)–Meet some hoppy creatures, learning to move the way they do. Puppets discuss favorite foods and places they hang out. Ages 2-3. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. $3 w/discounts: 410/535-5327.

Proof in the Playing - Sat. July 28–Come see what you’ve read about. Fairhaven Youth Theater Group presents Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 7pm at Christ Church, Galesville $3 or donation: 301/855-0402.

Mosquito Munchers - Mon. July 30 (10am)–The hazy, hot and humid days of summer provide abundant insects to swat. Join Ranger Brian as he looks for birds, dragonflies and other creatures that help us by eating insects. Kinder Farm Park. rsvp: 410/222-6115.

Light Up the Night - Fri. Aug.3 (8-9:30 pm)–Explore the world of fireflies, the only bugs that communicate with the language of light. Wear long pants and bring a hammer to build a lantern of your own! Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. $3 w/discounts: 410/535-5327

Book a Trip - Get away with Traveling Through Books, Barnes & Noble’s summer reading program. Pick up a travel journal at the store. Read eight books and write about your favorite part. Return the journal to the store for a free book!

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly