Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Perform or Not To Perform

As the drama club director at my high school, I'm in charge of not only coordinating rehearsals and showtimes but I am charged with trying to fit two or three performances into the busy schedules of 30+ high schoolers of varying ages and abilities, some of whom are involved in more extracurricular activities than I can even count.

The most difficult part of this process is choosing the final dates of the show. Though it seems counter-intuitive, a lot of thought goes into the choosing of these dates, beginning with the length of time that it will take to rehearse the show before it will be ready to be performed. Sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast.

It's always different for each show, and it's always different when you have a larger number of actors and actresses and when you have a lot of newer performers who haven't been on the stage before. There's a steep learning curve for some that includes not only stage presence but stage voicing (think about teaching introverted high schoolers how to project from their diaphragm and appear to be 8 weeks).

To add to these difficulties, there must also be a play chosen. Giving the students options for the play they want to perform is always a safe route to go in, but the dangers with this lie in the rushing to figure out several things once they choose a play. The length of time to rehearse is suddenly scrutinized not only for its end date, but for its beginning date. More than 50% of the students who participate in drama club also participate in at least one fall sport. The amount of time that would be "wasted" with rehearsals with too few students or none at all for scenes would exhaust many students, and of course, the director.

The next step in the arduous process is to coordinate with their schedules. Asking for a copy of everyone's prior commitments at the beginning of the first day of rehearsals is a good start, but things always come up, and there are always a dozen or so who will forget really important dates at the beginning, which is what happened to me this year. To add to this, previously scheduled events (some from the previous year and some perennial) and changed event dates plague my would-be calendar nearly every year, but this year they have nearly eradicated it.

After a week or two of hysteria, in which I lost more than a hundred extra hairs, I've arrived at three remaining sets of dates (one of which I believe has just been crossed off by some drama students outside my room who have dance competitions and a sporting event) on which to hold our performances.

While this post does have a negative slant to it, I don't want it to be misconstrued as complaining or searching for commiseration. I'm proud of my students for being involved in so many activities and for having such busy schedules that they barely have time for this portion of their lives. Despite the fact that it's causing me undue stress and craziness, I feel some kind of promise for the future generation knowing that so many are so interested in doing more than sitting at home with a video game controller glued to their palms, and that not all of them will be satiated by a few lazy performances and a couple of sporadic performances. They might not all have the same quixotic hopes that I do for the production and the same optimism that any date I choose will work for everyone, but their dogged involvement in myriad sports and activities is the best worst thing I could hope for in this situation.

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