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This Little Piggy Oinked All The Way…To Broadway

March 9, 2012

I’ve done it.

It’s the hazing the lanky freshman girl endures to get into Delta Zeta.

It’s the swirly the new kid holds his breath for in the cigarette smoke polluted 8th grade bathroom.

It’s the rite of passage for any working actress.

I did …………………………………………………

…….CHILDREN’S THEATRE.
(dun dun dunnnn)

3 Little Pigs

TA DA!!

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think children’s theatre is bad thing whatsoever.  My mom loves recounting the time my lil four year old self was “skinna-ma-rink-ee-dink-ee-dink-ing” through the aisles with Sharon, Lois, and Bram during a concert for The Elephant Show…

(I. love. you.)

It just seems like it’s a cliche and requirement for any actor to partake in children’s theatre during the beginning stages of his/her career.

My experience:

The creative team was incredibly talented and wonderful to work with.

The venue was impressive – The Wild Project

See … ?

Overall, we definitely pulled it off.  Success!

BUT…

Did I mention we had 3 rehearsals???

I think the general consensus was “they’re kids – they’ll love it” but personally, I felt like we were giving them the short end of the stick. It was such a great show – I would have loved to have more time to develop it further and make it even better. More rehearsal =

1. We could have made more discoveries and choices
2. We would have been completely solidified in all our notes and movements
3. I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SO STRESSED OUT!

_________________

In general (and this is putting this particular show aside),

I have questions about content when it comes to children’s theatre.
I don’t want to lie to kids.
I want to give them truth.
Which leaves me wondering what sort of stories we should be telling them…

For our show, I did feel a layer of insincerity in some of the work, whether it was an actor not truly taking in her scene partner or moments of manufactured emotions- times when we created what we thought the moment should be, rather than what it was.

_________________

All in all, I think in children’s theatre, it’s important to really take in the audience, be on their level, and just be honest with them.   Children are amazing little people that are capable of living in a way that we as jaded adults have lost.  Considering all the lessons we should be learning from them, we owe them honesty and integrity at all times. The kids did love our show, but I wonder how much more their little brains and senses could have been affected if we had raised our standards.

This post is dedicated to my favorite lil guy 🙂

Image

Onwards and Upwards,

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 10:49 am

    Hey Newbie~

    Children’s theatre has definitely been classified under the category: kick-the-dirt-and-look-down-when-someone-asks-you-what-you’ve-been-working-on. Like most things, it’s what you make of the experience. My first gig out of college was in children’s theatre… and it was the best thing I could have done for my early career. SMing a tour on a decently uncomplicated show gave me the experience I needed to be able to handle a larger tour in the future. The company I worked with believed in giving the children top-notch actors whose skill was measured by the ensemble performance they gave and the lessons they taught, not the amount of glitter on an overly-elaborate set to make a quick buck. We rehearsed for 2 6-day weeks for 8 hours each day before we started performances. I was lucky, the company I worked for had their hearts in the right place. Many companies have the “kids won’t care, they’ll love it anyway” which cheapens the performance significantly, and the exact reason I believe we all kick-the-dirt-and-look-down when someone asks us what we’ve been doing. When we’re working for companies who aren’t up to our standards, we don’t have to stoop to theirs, instead put your all into it, and make them want to rise to the occasion and produce the best piece possible. Children’s theatre is a very important branch of this industry – think of how many future actor/director/writer/techies you may have been performing for and inspired!

  2. March 10, 2012 11:46 pm

    Agreed Agreed Agreed! On so many levels! Thanks for your response, Practical. No one should ever have to kick-the-dirt-and-look-down. If you are, get out of what you’re doing! And yes, we owe so much to these kids, and you’re right, you never know which future industry professionals you may be inspiring!

  3. March 11, 2012 5:21 pm

    Not long out of drama school in London, I went for a group audition for a children’s theatre company and the artistic director said straight out to all of us: “if any of you here feel that you can give less of a performance doing children’s theatre then you would on the West End, then you should leave now.” And she was right. Those of us who were hired gave it 100 percent and not only did we all feel great about the shows, but we all earned our Equity cards (and were able to pay our rent…) As a veteran of hundreds of children’s theatre performances, the thing that always struck me is that kids are THE MOST HONEST audience you’ll ever encounter. If they are not entertained, they will let you know it. It forces us to be our best! Well done Newbie for giving this show your all and for thinking about how you’ll do it in the future.

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