School Play Program
Supporting and Sustaining Theatrical Arts in Our Schools
Our collaborative musical theatre events bring the Performing Arts experience to children in grades 1-8 at Barrington Public Schools. We believe (and studies support) that all children and teenagers can reap immeasurable benefits by participating in the Performing Arts.
In addition to being good old-fashioned fun, performing as a member of an ensemble cast fosters:
- Creative and divergent thinking
- Imagination, collaboration and problem solving
- Positive self-confidence and body image
- Lifelong public speaking skills
- Unity, interdependence, community, and culture
A Lot of Moving Parts
It takes the collaboration and dedication of many individuals to create the high level productions that Arts Alive! is known for, including:
- Directors and assistants
- Tech staff
- School PTOs
Below you find the guidelines we use to ensure that each and every show is a success.
The Arts Alive! Creative Staff researches licensed theatrical packages to find suitable plays that we believe the children will enjoy and learn from, and that can potentially accommodate a large cast. Arts Alive! works directly with each school’s Principal and PTO to select a production package unique to and financially feasible for their school, and that can also complement curriculum or Art Themes. This partnership is the backbone of our community-driven organization.
Unlike a traditional audition process, every child who registers for the Arts Alive! School Play is cast in the show. Auditions are a vehicle through which we gain insight into each child’s:
- Developmental level (i.e. whether they can sight read, which is an indication of their ability to memorize lines of dialogue)
- Ability to listen, pay attention, and follow directions
- Talent relative to vocal skills (expressiveness, loud and clear speaking voices)
- Physical movement, dance and singing abilities
- Capacity to be respectful of others
Our goal is to find the right part for each child. We typically employ a team of up to 10 volunteers who watch the auditions and take note of areas in which children seem to shine. Volunteers who have children in the play do not rate their own children.
Our job is to build the confidence and skills of every child, and not every child wants to be in the “spotlight.” In some cases, the safety of being in an ensemble, but still a part of the production as a whole, can be the best way for a child to grow individually. Others might already have skills and experience, and might be ready for the challenge of a more demanding part(s). We encourage the children to learn the importance of “ensemble acting” – that everyone is important.
We invest many hours into casting each school play to ensure that each child has meaningful stage time, and is in multiple scenes and musical numbers. “Lead Roles” are generally shared among two or more actors to give more children the opportunity to play parts for which they are well-suited. Most importantly, we try to select a part for each child which showcase his/her personal talents.
As children grow in confidence and skills from year to year, they are given more responsibility. Parents should discourage children from “counting their lines” and comparing to others’ in the play. The number of lines has nothing to do with the size of a performance. The smallest of roles can be the most memorable!
Your school’s Arts Alive! Director will then distribute the Cast List and Script. Your child should read the script, in its entirety, to fully understand the plot and characters, and listen to all the show’s music, which is available for download from the Arts Alive! website. Each child should develop a working familiarity with the entire show.
During the rehearsal process, the cast becomes an ensemble and, together, builds a show.
Rehearsals are generally held twice a week after school. Additional rehearsals are sometimes scheduled during lunchtimes and on some weekend days. You will receive a detailed rehearsal schedule prior to the first rehearsal. Please mark your calendars at that time! Depending on the scenes scheduled, your child may not be called to every rehearsal.
Send in a peanut-free snack and beverage, along with a note for the office (that allows your child to stay after school), to each rehearsal.
Children are expected to work on their lines and music at home. They should come to rehearsals prepared for the scenes scheduled, and ready to listen, try hard, have fun and be respectful of others.
Each cast member should exhibit good behavior during rehearsals. Hitting, pushing, yelling, name-calling, running, or another disruptive activity will not be tolerated. School rules are in effect during rehearsals. If a problem behavior continues, a child will be asked to leave the Program. The Arts Alive! Discipline Policy can be found here.
The play Director will do her best to make sure that rehearsals end on time. We also ask that children are picked up from rehearsals on time. Children must be signed out by an approved pick-up person (as indicated on your registration). A note must be sent to the school for any occasion where a child will be picked up by someone other than those on his or her approved pick-up list.
It is very important that each child, with family support, commits to attending every rehearsal for which s/he is scheduled. Theatre is no easy task and the absence of even one actor can affect the whole cast and stall rehearsals. We adhere to a rigid rehearsal schedule. When children are missing, it results in backtracking during future rehearsals to accommodate the missing cast members. Please consider your family’s other commitments to activities and weekend excursions before registering your child for the School Play Program. Extensive absences may result in your child’s part(s) being recast or in your child’s removal from the Program.
Where the magic of theatre comes to life!
The culminating events of the program are the performances during which the cast functions as a working team to showcase their hardwork.
After weeks of rehearsals, it’s time to move the show to the theatre where we add in all the technical elements including sound, microphones, lights, scenic design, set pieces, props, and costumes. This can be very different for the children and they need the opportunity to adapt to their new “stage.”
Tech and dress rehearsals can be long and tedious requiring patience and a great deal of concentration. However, through this process the cast learns the “professional” side of the theatrical experience and polishes their show before premiering it to a live audience.
Each school play stages 2-4 performances for the public.
Arts Alive! communicates with families via email and website updates. Please be sure that we have your current email address. You may also receive communications from your school’s PTO Liaison. All school play information is posted on the Arts Alive! website www.artsalivebarrington.org. Select your child’s school from the top navigation menu to access rehearsal schedules, download music for practice, read any notices. Notices are sent via email every week. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions/concerns.
Fees and Expenditures
Arts Alive! strives to produce theatrical events of the highest standard. We believe that children in turn, set very high standards for themselves. Producing theatre is an expensive business; it is not, however, a lucrative one, which is why most Arts’ Institutions stay afloat through grants and benefactors. Here’s what your registration fee and the box office proceeds from the performance go towards:
- Play licensure
- Script duplication for the actors and professional, technical, design, and volunteer staff members
- Hundreds of costumes, either purchased or custom-made; costume storage, dry cleaning, laundry, supplies and occasional shipping
- Sets (scenery), large set pieces, and props that are sourced or designed, built and painted
- Rental of microphones; sound, lighting, and special effects equipment; and walkie talkies
- Contributing artists’ salaries and stipends (including directors, choreographers, rehearsal assistants, production managers, set designers, and technicians)
- Program booklets, posters, and other advertising materials per school play
- Additional rehearsal venue rental
- Janitorial staff
- Storage fees
Arts Alive! employs only professional, trained artists to give your children the highest quality of instruction. We hire professional technical staff, all of whom are paid to assure that they are giving the highest level of commitment to the program. Registration fees cover some of these expenses and box office (75% of ticket sales) covers the rest. Arts Alive! relies on each school’s generous volunteers for extra support. In return, we donate 25% of the gross box office proceeds to the school’s PTO. Arts Alive! also offers scholarships to families who want to participate, but who may be experiencing financial hardship.
It takes a village to raise a child – and to stage a school play! We need you, parents. This is the BEST way to be a part of this magical family experience at your school. Although you may not be able to assist during rehearsal hours, so many of the required elements of a show can be done outside of school: at home while watching TV, tinkering in your garage, or visiting consignment stores or yard sales. Here are some of the areas in which we always welcome extra sets of hands:
- Rehearsal monitors to help keep order during rehearsals and review lines and music with children
- Costume assistants (cutting, sewing, gluing, etc.)
- Set design and painting
- Sourcing and creating set pieces (i.e. furniture and other larger items)
- Graphic design for program booklet, tickets, posters, etc.
- Backstage assistants
- And much more
Please let us know your areas of interest or expertise. You can sign up to volunteer on your child’s registration form or via email. Your time and contribution is valuable to the creative staff and children. Thank you for considering to volunteer for your child’s school play!