Have you ever felt post-show letdown? No matter how appreciated a stage play is on opening night, once it’s over, pretty soon it feels like it never happened. The post-show blues used to be an inevitable part of theatre but I’ve found a solution. Publish your original script and share it with your cast.
This goes against common advice. Commercial publishers are not interested in plays, we are told. They don’t sell. Only dramatists with big production credits need apply. What’s a creative educator to do?
One route is to experiment with Smashwords (easy) and Kindle (harder to format). With epublishing, it will cost you effort rather than money and it will give your actors a lasting souvenir. This year, for example, it’s taken me some time to get the formatting right for my play, “The Fiendish Plot of Doctor Cyclone.” Fortunately, by spending a few late nights figuring out how to use Sigil for Mobi file conversion and the Smashwords ‘Meatgrinder,’ I’m finished by the end-of-June deadline. I’m giving this years’ grade eight grads and former cast members a Smashwords coupon for a free eBook of the screenplay in their choice of epub, Mobi or PDF.
The Toronto District School Board emphasizes inclusion. This high school production of Pride and prejudice involves more departments and students than any other event on the calendar. Check out the article on the TDSB website here: Pride and prejudice.
Morning announcements. They can be so boring. School announcements often follow a set format with the national anthem, followed by the date, a few information items and then the thought of the day. It’s natural to tune out something so routine, especially for students who aren’t quite awake.
Right now I’m publicizing book fair at my school with only two weeks to go. The book fair manual recommends you start planning at least five weeks ahead. Drama skills to the rescue! I am using student-created skits on the P.A. for publicity. These attract the attention of teachers and students much better than information items read by the principal. Get maximum impact by writing a real scene with snappy dialogue and some kind of conflict, however small.
Wondering what writing assignment to give your students next? Why not ask them to dramatize some morning announcements. They could be inspired by fictional schools in novels like Hogwarts, Wayside School, or Prufrock Preparatory School. Alternately, let them spoof pop stars like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus or historical figures to tie in with the curriculum.
This blog is about doing drama with kids. I write and direct stage plays for elementary school students, usually as an extracurricular club. So far I have done four stage plays which I typically write in the summer and rehearse from January to April. Student actors learn their parts on a very different schedule than adults!
I have also collaborated on scripts with children and created non-fiction videos based on trips and events. To take a break from stage plays, I recently made a comic science fiction video called “The Fiendish Plot of Doctor Cyclone.”
Teachers are always looking for ways to enrich the curriculum with resources that are free or economical. In this blog, I want to do something my teaching mentor, Mike Taylor, did for me. I helped Mike direct a couple of his original shows while he taught me how to write, produce and direct my own.
If I had not been able to learn side-by-side from a master teacher, I would not be writing school plays today. It’s not hard but it’s so much easier if you can follow an example and get advice. The purpose of this blog is provide a resource for teachers interested in doing drama with their kids whether they want to run an improvisation club or create a musical. I don’t pretend to be a big expert, just a teacher with a passion for drama. It’s a great way to hook your kids into learning and help them achieve success.
So, don’t hesitate, put on a show. Every kid can be a ‘star’ on your stage.