Just when I think I know my kids . . .
I have worked on several theater productions with my kids; sometimes all of them, sometimes only a couple, sometimes, just one. I’ve been onstage with three of the four at least once (I’ll be onstage with the fourth this fall!) and we’ve had just about every imaginable combination of two people working in various aspects – one on stage and one in the pit, one on stage crew and one in the pit, etc. So working with my kids in theater is nothing new.
But this current experience has been unique. Our church decided to sponsor a youth theater this summer. We started with a Junior High cast doing “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and it opens this Friday (June 24th). Since the goal of the youth theater is to help train students in all aspects of theater from directing to stage crew to acting. My son is in the production and two of my girls asked to be a part of the experience. My youngest daughter wanted to be student director and my eldest asked to be stage manager. I explained to them what I expected and they were still interested so we took off for a new theater experience.
My expectations were fairly simple – by the end of the rehearsal process, I wanted my student director to have given notes, corrected mistakes, polished blocking, etc. and I wanted my stage manager (aka my eldest daughter) to have the backstage organized in such a way that the cast and crew could function. Our church has a small stage which has been used for nothing but storage for the last 30 years so the curtains probably need to be replaced and the “stage lighting” consists of five light switches, some ceiling lights, and a few track lights. These lights must be controlled by someone backstage since that’s where the switches are and this job fell to my stage manager. She made incredibly good use of the little lighting we have as well as the stage curtain. Every lighting plan was her idea and I love what she has done. True, she checked a few things with me to make sure that the staging and lighting would work together. But the final decisions I left up to her.
My student director (aka the youngest daughter) ran a few rehearsals and added some fun things that cracked me up!! She has exhibited all kinds of confidence when giving the actors notes to help improve their performances and she has been an invaluable help when it comes to clearing up confusion, tweaking blocking, encouraging cast members . . . it’s been a blast to work with her!!
I’ve loved every opportunity I have had to see my kids involved in something they enjoy and that allows them to display their talents. But this has been an unforgettable experience. With the show opening in just a week, I have pretty much handed things over to them and focused on playing for the show since I am serving as piano player and sole pit member!! They have done all I asked of them and more. I have no idea if they have enjoyed the experience or not but it’s definitely been something new for them and it’s been fun for me to discover that they each have a talent for the job that they took on!!