In our theatre company, we required the parents of the actors to participate in the production. When the actors came to the audition, there were two forms to fill out. First was the actor’s form — name, age, address, phone and text numbers, email address, availability, experience, and special skills such as dance, gymnastics, etc. Another important piece of info was the actor’s height, plus we found it useful to the director to take a photo of each auditioner.
A parent helps Mother Ginger with her makeup.
On the parent participation form, we explained what was entailed to be on each committee. Here is what our form said:
- Backstage Coordinators — Attend two full cast rehearsals, one dress rehearsal, and work backstage during one show (total of three rehearsals and one show). Follow script and call actors to the stage as they are needed. Monitor the green room or wings.
- Costumers — Attend two dress rehearsals and work backstage during one show. Also attend any rehearsals where actors are fitted with costumes. Pack, unpack, and transport costumes. Help actors put on costumes. Iron, repair, hem costumes. (Sewing ability is helpful but not required.)
- Playbill Committee — Make phone calls to businesses to solicit ads (a script and call list will be provided). Visit businesses to speak with the manager if needed.
- Refreshment/Cast Party Committee — Solicit contributions of food and drinks from businesses and parents, plan and purchase refreshments. Serve at the refreshment stand or serve and chaperone the cast party. Organize and work at the raffle table. The refreshment stand is an important fundraising endeavor.
- Set/Prop Committee — Attend two full cast rehearsals, one dress rehearsal, and work backstage during one show. Set up stage, make set changes during show, be responsible for stage props.
The second form was a parent participation form with their choice of which committee to work on: costumes, sets, backstage coordinators (a fancy term for green room monitors), playbill, refreshments, or tickets. Eventually we removed tickets as an option because everyone wanted on that committee, so we just assigned parents we knew would be good at it to handle tickets. Most parents chose refreshments because that was the easiest. The more enthusiastic parents would choose costumes or sets.
We did not cast kids based on their parent’s enthusiasm or ability to participate. However, we made it clear that if a parent failed to contribute in any way to the production, the actor would not be eligible to audition for the next production.
Some parents at first resisted the concept of participation, but once they got involved, we found that most parents enjoyed the social aspects of meeting and working with the other parents. The cast party, to which both parents and actors were invited, was a great way for parents to get to know each other.
When we first began our theatre group, we had a very low participation fee, and all production personnel were either parents or teenage volunteers. Later, we raised the fee and began to pay some of the more experienced people, such as the light person, the head costumer, the choreographer, and the stage manager.
If you have a high participation fee, you may be able to pay all your production people and ask parents to volunteer just for committees such as refreshments and tickets. The disadvantage of this approach is that kids whose parents can’t afford the fee won’t audition. That’s why we chose to keep the fee low and require parents to help out. It’s up to you which of these approaches you choose, but we think parent participation is good for the whole community, kids and parents.