Let’s pretend you just got hired to be the new theater teacher at the local elementary school. Where do you start when producing your first show? Here are the eight steps that can help you get started.
1. Choose the Show
If possible, contact the previous theater teacher and get their advice on what shows have worked well in the past. Find out what your budget is and determine the number of students that will participate. Choose accordingly, then sign all the necessary contracts, pay the fees and order plenty of scripts.
2. Involve Parent Volunteers
Volunteers will make a huge difference in your success. Delegate as much as possible, allowing you to focus on the duties of the director and producer. Community and parent volunteers are a golden resource.
3. Create the Schedule
Decide when the performance will be and work backward from there. You will probably want at least twelve weeks of rehearsals. Create a spreadsheet with all the rehearsals by scenes that can be shared with everyone involved.
4. Hold Auditions
Put together a website or print audition packets for the lead roles. Advertise the show and hand out information for at least two weeks prior to auditions. Involve your musical director and choreographer in selecting the cast.
5. Begin Rehearsals
Now the fun begins — it is important during the first rehearsal that you set the tone of mutual respect that will be expected. Do a few fun warm-ups and then read through the script as a cast. Be organized as you rehearse. Stick to your schedule and respect everyone’s time.
6. Determine Costumes & Sets
If you have connections, you might be able to use costumes and sets from another school or community theater. Perhaps your school produced this show in the past, and the previous costumes and sets are in storage. Make sure when you are moving sets that you protect your back. Use a sturdy hand truck with casters and wheels that will keep you from carrying heavy objects — use a tool to aid you whenever possible.
7. Perform the Play
Ready or not, the day has arrived! It is time to focus on the positive and help each student to have a great experience on the stage.
8. Review the Theatrical Production
Have a post-production meeting with the other adults involved. This important step will help you next year as you direct and produce the next show.
The purpose of a theatrical production in schools is to promote confidence in the children. Keep calm and keep in mind that this is grade school! Throughout all these eight steps, remember to have fun.