A surprising thing happened this semester for the Theater Co-op. Once we chose our spring musical, Spamalot, many of the older members decided not to take part. Thus many of the new and younger co-op members received bigger parts than anticipated. At first this was a bit overwhelming and nerve racking for many of them since they were not sure they were ready for such a big jump. But with some reassurance they happily embraced the parts.
Working on this show has felt a lot like working on my first show with HVSS; Arsenic and Old Lace in 2013. During our normal rehearsals I slip in acting exercises and games to support actor training while we work on our blocking. Little things to help with the basics you would get in an acting class or know from doing a previous show. However there is one very different thing this time around, two thirds of our rehearsals are for either dancing or singing, another set of skills new to some of these actors. Thus they have a lot more to work on everyday. Since it is a lot to take in, occasionally our rehearsals will become unfocused, but unlike 2013 I now know how to work with Sudbury students much better. We started to collectively make rules for what to do in rehearsal while you are not on stage; to keep focused on the show so that we are using the 10 hours of rehearsal time per week to its fullest.
I have very high expectations for these students and the work we put out as a co-operative. No matter their age or experience level (there are first timers in this show and ages 7-15). We keep working moments in scenes, songs and dance numbers until they are right. I also added a new facet to the show this year, which is that each student must assist in a technical aspect of the show. It has been a learning experience adding this extra task. Some students stepped into their technical roles with ease, such as our choreographer and vocal coach; while other have missed deadlines and worked a little harder to get their tasks done, but they did get them done. Needless to say being part to the theater co-op takes a lot of dedication.
The best part of this experience for me has been seeing these students, some of whom I’ve been working with for 3 years, gaining confidence and breaking out of their shells to take on leading roles, both on and off stage. It's been a pleasure to get the chance to work more closely with them, and help shape their performances.
This show is very ambitious, our biggest yet. Much like the group in 2013 they are learning fast and working hard, and it's paying off. Spamalot, (a delightful rip off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail) is a wacky, over the top self-aware comedy. In fact the choice to do Spamalot, a challenging show for any group of even adult actors is not out of the ordinary for this group. These students aren’t satisfied by run of the mill kids plays, they go out of their way to pick fun shows that are bold and interesting and push the boundaries of what most consider children's theater. Which is one of the reasons our shows get such high praise, because we put on shows audiences want to see with exciting characters to watch.
These young people are doing a great job taking their new acting training seriously so that they can be totally ridiculous on stage. Right now we are putting the final touches on our wackiness, making our silly walks a little sillier; our crazy voices a little crazier; and our punch lines a little punchline-ier. You won't want to miss it. I am excited to see this group perform; to see these fresh faces, and a few of our veterans, help us all find our grails'.
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