4 Things YOU Can Do to Help Your Child Succeed in Theatre, by Christopher Blair

4 Things YOU Can Do to Help Your Child Succeed in Theatre, by Christopher Blair

     As a teacher at The Savannah Children’s Theatre, I often get asked by parents how they can help their child to be a better performer.  (Most of these questions are about how to improve their child’s abilities so they can get better roles, but that’s a blog post for another day!)   What I want to share today is how to help your children once they are already cast so that you can help them build good work habits.  It’s never too early to start making a good name for yourself! 

1)  Make sure your child always brings his or her script and a pencil to EVERY rehearsal

     You can’t study geography without a map.  You can’t build a house without a hammer.  You can’t rehearse a play without a script!  The script is the textbook, the raw material, and the pencil is the tool.  They allow your child to record their blocking, choreography and character notes in one place.   It’s not like homework; it doesn’t get turned in and graded.  The scribbles and notes only need to make sense to the child writing them.  This practice is a great way for a child to make the production personal to them, recording their unique journey through the play.  This will solidify what they are learning and help them get off-book at a much faster pace.

2) Be a line buddy

     I have never been good at sitting down alone with a script and memorizing lines.  Acting is usually an interactive process with me.  I need someone else there to read the other character’s lines so it becomes a true conversation rather than just a series of words and sentences.  Having a person there to be “on book,” to complete the conversation or to correct errors, will help young actors get “off book” more quickly.  It is nearly impossible to truly act if you are trying to remember the line.  Offer to help.  Enlist a family member or babysitter.  I have a line buddy who helps me with every single production.  He is an invaluable asset.

3) Encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits

     An actor’s body is his or her instrument, and it has to be cared for and fueled properly.  There is no energy drink on the planet that will ever take the place of a good night’s sleep!  This is one that I struggle with as an actor.  It’s so much easier to throw back a cup of Starbucks than it is to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, especially during tech week!  Fast food is fast and convenient, but 9 times out of 10, it’s just a bag of empty calories that burns away quickly leaving us less energized and focused than when we started.  We all need good rest and fuel to make our bodies, voices,  and brains work properly.  Encourage your children to rest during tech weeks and performance weekends, and encourage them to eat healthy, fresh foods that will provide them with the clean energy they need to get through a show.

4) Encourage them to trust their director

     The director is trying to put on the best show they can!  Doubting the director’s choices, especially early in the rehearsal process, can make things stressful for everyone involved.  The director must consider all aspects of the production in each scene (the story, the cast, the budget, the space, the multitude of personalities involved), and while their vision may not be clear at the outset, it will eventually be brought to light.  At SCT, we encourage young performers to share ideas and visions with their teachers, but we need the students to trust that we will make decisions based on the best interest of the show as a whole.  Your trust is vital to our success!

     So there you have it; 4 easy things that parents can do to help kids stay on top of their theatre game.  Begin planting these little seeds of wisdom now and watch your young actors grow into empowered performers!  Just like any other after-school activity, theatre is a discipline.  The harder you work and the more your prepare, the better your outcome will be!  We want all of our students to turn in successful performances, so sharpen your pencils, and let’s get ready to rehearse!


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