Friday, February 27, 2009

Moms and Dads Love to Watch Their Little Ones

It was a success! An elementary where I teach after-school theater classes held an arts night for the families. My two groups were to demonstrate some of the things they'd been learning. I chose whole group movement activities to have the kids show off. They did "machines" (the kids become the machine and the audience had to guess what machine they were depicting), "walk-through" (the kids "walked through" peanut butter, a blizzard, a desert), "Act as if" (the kids walked as though they were movie stars, spies, looking for a $100 bill), and the older class even performed a very short version of The Grasshopper and the Ants. As the kids walked back and forth across the stage several times, or created simple machines, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this was a little dull for the parents. Perhaps I should have made the students rehearse skits from Day 1, maybe made the skits into mini-musicals, had the kids costumed with props in their hands. But I always forget that parents are delighted to see their children on stage, even if it's something simple. The directors of the after-school program told me afterwards how wonderful the students did; how unusually quiet the parents were as they watched; what a great opportunity for these children. The students, despite being a little afraid, got up on stage in front of 100 parents and performed--I always forget that THAT is the best succcess for these little guys to experience. We can always practice skills but the kids have to overcome their fear of being in front of people first...and they did. Hooray for them!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Cat and the Computer

We have a young-ish cat who, like most cats, wants attention when she wants attention and not before. For some reason, when any of us are on a computer, that's when she wants attention. Today, I'm trying to rest so I can get well and I bring my computer into my room and set it on a card table. Suddenly the cat is there. She wants to be petted because I'm working on the computer. She didn't seem to notice me when I was reading, no, no, just when the computer came on. She must be a very modern cat, very techno savvy. She's not interested in sitting on the book I'm reading, she wants to sit on the computer I'm using.

Adorable Princesses

We had a great time performing The Princess on a Pea yesterday (despite my cold). As children entered the theater, I let them know that we needed volunteers from the audience and if they wanted to volunteer "just raise your hand." I told that to the first little girl to enter the theater and she raised her hand while I was talking. Every time I walked by, before we even started, she raised her hand. I stopped to talk to her and she said, "I've never been in a play before."

The play starts out with the queen and the prince at the ball. I, as the queen, insist that the prince dance with the princesses in attendance and begin bringing up girls from the audience to dance with him. The little girl who kept raising her hand was first, as Princess Elizabeth. There were two more girls chosen to "dance with the prince." None of them cried (sometimes that happens); each of them answered the prince's questions as they danced.

Later, there are three "foreign" princesses chosen from the audience to meet the prince. They meet him one at a time and each time the queen tells them how to answer his questions, so they "won't be nervous." The first one is supposed to say "yes" to every question. In the past, Chris (who plays the prince) almost always has to help the girl remember what she's supposed to answer because the questions are things like "Did your journey tire you?" The little princess wants to say no even though she's been told to say yes. But the first little girl (and she was little) was right on with her yeses. The second princess, a little older than the first, was to always answer "no" and she did it with flying colors. The third princess answers "what do you think?" and she had the audience laughing.

Now there were some boys in the play too. One played the captain of the ship who sailed the servant (Chris again) to get the foreign princesses. From backstage, I heard the captain say, "we're almost to land." Totally improvised. Audience enjoyed it. The messenger who announced the princesses to the prince was also a boy (he had raised his hand to be one of the foreign princesses but Chris passed him over). As the messenger, he did a great job. He spread his arms and announced "Princess ______," whichever princess it was, very loudly. Loved it.

All the kids were just delightful performers. What fun!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Absolutely Hate About Plumbing Repairs

I think I can do it myself. I try, so I can be "thrifty." How hard can it be to replace a few washers so the drips stop? Two trips to the hardware store and six hours later, we call the plumber to finish up (and repair?) what we started. I hate that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What I Absolutely Love About Interactive Theater

Child-like joy on people's faces is the BEST. When children are mesmerized by a play, believing that the stove where Jack hid is just behind the curtain; when adults are sitting on the edges of their seats waiting to say their lines during a mystery--I get to see the same kind of smiles light up their faces, no matter the age. And those smiles bounce back to me. The difficulty is staying in character when I want to laugh with the audience. I get to laugh later, when the show is over and I'm thanking the children for playing harps, hens, princesses, etc. and the adults for playing Mr. Chips, Miss Fortune, Boone, etc. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


(I'm having fun with those artist colored pencils)

(and it's hard to get the color right when trying to upload to the internet)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Grasshopper and the Ants

After I told the kids to whom I'm teaching theater the story of the The Grasshopper and the Ants, a small group went off to create a skit about it. They had those ants down. The kids followed the leader as she walked in straight lines and curved lines. And they concentrated on getting every piece of imaginary morsel on the ground. Best set of human ants I've ever seen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Creative Machines

While teaching theater classes to some youngsters, I put them into groups of five to come up with a machine that they act out using just their team. Then I try not to look or listen because it can be interesting to try and guess. One team had two people facing each other with their arms outstretched, touching hands; a third person curled up in front of them; a fourth student stood in front of that group of three, moving his thumbs energetically; and the fifth person stood on the other side of that group, framed in the square the two standers created, ducking, weaving, punching while ducking, and doing handstands. The "machine" was a TV with the video game plugged into it. But I got it wrong when I guessed, "video game." It was something more specific--a Nintendo? a DX something or another? Obviously, I am not up on the latest technology.