Ground plans

Continuing the series on theatre education for high school students…

Directors need to establish the framework in which their actors move around. That’s the ground plan.

After you read the script several times, sketch out what the stage will look like–but only generally. Don’t be picking out the color of the couch just yet. That’s irrelevant at this point. But do figure out where that couch will be located in relation to other prominent set pieces and props. Here, you’re focusing on what goes where.

As you do so, you have to keep two things in mind. First, how do you need the actors to move? Second, how would your ground plan compel the actors to move in the absence of your direction? Continue reading

When life throws you bozos, write a play

My high school senior Homecoming resulted in my first original one-act play — a farce.

The play, “The Play About Homecoming,” went over well with its high school audience, and my cast did great. The show brought considerable laughter to an auditorium full of teenagers. But what I and a few friends had to endure to get it…

I was very last-minute with the whole Homecoming thing. Three days before the dance, I learned one of my female friends was dateless, so I figured I’d swoop in and save the day.

She wasn’t the problem, and neither were her two best friends—but their dates left pretty much everything to be desired.

One was a 21-year-old guy who for some reason wanted to go to a high school Homecoming with a 17-year-old girl he barely knew. The other was our same age, but not our same level of hygiene, and he wore a tie-dyed shirt under some garish sportscoat. Continue reading

Preparing to direct

Beginning a series on theatre education for high school students…

When you’re the director, you have to do several things before you step foot into the first rehearsal. Otherwise, your leadership may amount to little more than “Okay, actors–go!” and “Okay, actors–stop!”

After you find the script you want to direct, you need to re-read it several times. Each time, have a different focus. Here are four important topics to consider:

1.) You want to define in your mind the purpose of the play. Is it just a simple comedy designed to make people laugh, and that’s it? Is it trying to provoke thought? Does it have a theme you want to emphasize?

The production needs a reason to exist beyond “Well, I felt like directing a play my senior year, so…yeah…I’m doing this one…”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the purpose being harmless entertainment. Not everything needs a deep, complex meaning. If you’re just out to have a great time and share some fun with the audience, that’s plenty of purpose right there.

So that’s the what. Now to start thinking about the how… Continue reading