Heather Keith, Opera for All Teaching Artist
The time right before spring break is always really exciting in our Opera for All schools. This is usually when we start getting into staging our operas. There are so many teachable moments in staging a show that are inherent in the process, but this year we wanted the students to be in the director’s chair more than ever before. This took shape in different ways depending on the class dynamic.
At a few schools we let the children build a scene, by deciding where there characters fit in a larger tableau. I found this worked particularly well in large group scenes. This also gave us the opportunity to concentrate specifically on acting in different body levels. At some schools like Chase, We decided to let the students have more of a say in specific hand gestures and line readings, this way they have even more ownership of the text and are able to dig deeper into more nuanced acting. I was surprised how many of the students have a natural gift for comedic timing, something that I’ve seen the most talented actors struggle with. I’m very excited to see what ideas stick with the students in this process.
(McAulliffe Students finding their place in a tableau
(McAuliffe student waiting for his entrance)
At Hanson Park, since this is the first time many of the students have been in any sort of play we are concentrating on filling a proscenium stage. The first day of staging went incredibly well, so I know we will be able to layer in more complicated details once we finish the barebones blocking.
(Reilly students "clumping" together in a large group scene)
One of the things that really impresses me about directing young people is how they are able to be complete sponges. When you find that hook to get their attention, they are suddenly all in and it’s amazing what they can accomplish. I’m beyond thrilled to be able to create art with these students and I hope that the shows only get better with every rehearsal.