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It’s time to start planning your spring show! When it comes to your student actors, it’s important to help them stay energized and organized. They’ve got a full course load and other projects to manage and you’ve got your show to produce, so it’s important to find that balance of pulling great performances out of your students without burning them out. Here’s how to energize your actors and sustain them through the entire spring show process.
Set the tone for your show from the very beginning when the actors come in — the audition process, the first read-through, and so on. Yes, there will be work and moments of tension, but this is theatre, and if the fun element is lacking overall, it will be hard to carry the momentum needed to sustain the show through closing night. Introduce new theatre games, and be the reason they want to show up and give their best every day.
Also: When your students are excited about the production, they will spread the word because enthusiasm is contagious.
The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, especially students. A recent study revealed that students are more stressed and more disengaged in their work and relationships than before the pandemic. While theatre (especially if you’re able to rehearse and perform in-person) can help re-engage them, make sure it’s not adding to the stress in their lives. Creativity, movement, and laughing are all ways to help improve mental health, so make sure you are attuned to when to push your students creatively and when to ease up. Yoga sessions and mindful breathing exercises are effective for not only warmups (see below) but also stress management.
You know your students best, so do what works for them, and work it into your overall rehearsal plan.
Anyone who has ever taken ballet knows that dancers run the full plie and barre circuit before moving on to the floor work or “real dancing.” This warm-up routine is essential to prevent injury and to get the dancer’s mind and body in the zone. Apply these same principles with your students and their warm-ups. Ask them to contribute songs to a playlist for your physical warm-ups. As rehearsals and the performances move along, have the students take turns leading warm-ups. Vocal warmups like tongue-twisters, sirens, and scales are always good, and if you’re doing a musical, singing bits and pieces from the show, especially with harmonies, will get your students focussed and ready to go. You might like to organize the warmups in a particular order so that they become the routine and pre-show ritual that helps center your students for the show. These often end in a group circle with affirmations or a chant.
Then, in the not too distant future, it will become the students’ show to carry after you’ve set them up for spring show success! And remember: anything you’re not able to fix for showtime, make a note to discuss in the post-mortem. And yes, especially in educational theatre, you need to have a post-mortem.
Mounting a show takes a lot of work. On the Stage is here to help you organize and simplify your process. That’s why we created this Theatre Producer’s Planner with timelines, outlines, and checklists, so you can stay on top of your to-do list and continue making great theatre with less stress and burnout. Download the guide today.