Middle School Productions: Producing More with Less

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, just how much we ask of middle school students. Viewing today’s Saturday performance of the this year’s middle school plays helped me remember this.

All of the students in the plays had chosen “Production” as one of their arts choices for this year. I only allow students in “Production,” if it is their first choice, because of the myriad commitments that the production requires: the time spent learning lines, the additional after school rehearsals during production week, the self-control needed to sit idle when not in a rehearsing scene, as well as the courage it takes to perform, all encourage me to only enroll a student in the course if they have made it clear that they want to join.

So, the casts are usually very enthusiastic about their work and their excitement is clear. This year’s production classes had a big obstacle to overcome: this winter’s weather. Many of the course meeting times happen within the first hours of the school day, meaning the casts lost rehearsal time when we had snow days and when we had delays.

Add to that history, the current event of an early spring storm leading to a stream of early dismissals from school on Friday, and a postponement of the Friday night show for a Saturday matinee. The cherry on top: This marked the final hours of preparation for our middle school trips departures and spring break that follows. I have no trouble imagining that these thespians had dozens of things on their minds in addition to the stage, because I certainly did!

Were this community  or professional theater, the director would have simply called more rehearsals. When rehearsals are scheduled during the school day, though, the director, Laura Hicks, simply has to ask everyone (including herself) to work harder.

No one, cast nor director, settled for less than a professional show; no one copped out, shrugged and said, “It’s just a ‘kids’ show.” So, while applause and bravos are always warranted at the end of a school play, this particular year’s works deserves a special commendation for the behind-the-scenes obstacles they overcame.

Photos from both performances can be found at this Flickr feed.

Video of each play can be seen at these links:

Audio of Broadway: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/60195904

 Video and audio of Robin Hood: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/60197072