Posted on: 15 September 2014
Nearly 2 million American students are homeschooled these days, which means there is a lot more room for academic flexibility. Homeschool co-ops and groups often band together for projects like theater productions, but how do you help your kids pull off a fantastic show?
1. Fit the Material to the Group
When you've only got 10 kids in your homeschool group, plays that require enormous casts won't fit your production very well. Don't stretch your kids too far by forcing them to play five different characters each, as you'll suck the fun right out of the project.
Instead, look for material that fits the size and age range of your homeschool group. To find plays for a drama group, use resources like:
- Drama sections of public libraries
- Online databases of children's plays
- Drama teachers at local schools
2. Adapt the Material
Don't assume that your homeschool group must perform the play as written; in fact, a customized performance is always more fun. Enlist the kids to make changes to the script so everyone is comfortable with his or her part.
If there aren't enough characters for your group of students, for example, add characters to the script. This works particularly well for non-speaking parts since some students won't feel comfortable with prominent roles.
Other methods of adapting the material might include:
- Changing the setting (e.g. to your own city or town)
- Changing the time (e.g. transforming an old play to modern day)
- Changing the language (e.g. adding modern lingo)
3. Rent or Buy a Portable Stage
Give your homeschool group the red carpet treatment with a real, honest-to-goodness stage. Rent or buy portable staging from places like The Stage Depot to set up in a church auditorium, public recreation center, or even one homeschool family's backyard.
Decide where you will host the performance, then deck out the environment with as many accents as possible. Rent or sew a curtain to be erected around the stage, for example, so your kids feel like they are performing a "real" production.
Whether you rent or buy will depend on:
- Storage: Do you have a place to keep the stage when it isn't in use?
- Funds: Can you afford to purchase the stage?
- Frequency: How often will you use a stage for homeschool performances?
- Activities: Will you use portable stages for other activities, such as choir recitals and band performances?
4. Rehearse On Site
Rehearsals for homeschool theater productions usually progress from simple to elaborate. A common sequence of rehearsals might involve:
- Reading the script at a round table or in a circle on the ground
- Reading standing up while performing basic visual cues (e.g. gestures, entering and exiting "stage")
- Practicing physical comedy or difficult movements
- Performing full-fledged readings (without scripts or interruptions)
- Performing dress rehearsals (in costume)
During the final 1-2 weeks of rehearsals, practice on the stage you'll use for the final performance. Let the kids get used to the position, lighting, and dimensions of the stage so they're more comfortable performing in front of an audience.
5. Appoint a Crew
With older homeschooled children, consider giving them the reins for all aspects of the production. Rather than just casting roles in the play, assign crew members for the production, such as:
- Production Director
- Stage Director
- Costume Director
- Make-up Artist
- Prop Designer
This works best for large homeschool groups with students in junior high or high school. Some students might not want to act, and assigning a crew lets everyone be involved according to their comfort levels.
A homeschool theater production doesn't have to be any less exciting or engaging than a production created by the drama program at a public or private school. Follow the above tips to give all your students their moment in the spotlight.Share