Where To Begin

When we first began, we made an appointment with the superintendent of schools in our town. We arrived at his office with a full-blown proposition on how the group would work and where we wanted to conduct rehearsals and put on the shows. 

We at first asked for the high school stage for our shows and asked the superintendent to suggest where we could rehearse. He suggested we use the smaller junior high (now the middle school) stage for rehearsals. After the first few years, we decided that the smaller stage was actually better for shows as well as for rehearsals. Because the auditorium was smaller, it was easier to hear the kids from every seat in the auditorium, and because the stage was smaller and not as high, it was easier to construct sets that didn’t dwarf the actors. 

We ended up eventually rehearsing in almost every school in the town because there were sometimes conflicts with school activities in the various schools. We were able to convince the superintendent and principals that the benefits to the kids of having a theatre program in the town justified letting our group use the schools for free. 

Robin Hood and Maid Marian

We also spoke with the head of the music department and got a lot of support from him as well. We were able to recruit some of the local churches, who let us use their auditorium for rehearsals when none of the schools were available due to vacations or school-wide functions. 

We decided to put on only large-scale musicals because that enabled us to use a large number of kids. For the first few years, we were able to cast every kid who auditioned. We chose to open auditions to anyone from any town, from fourth grade to 12th grade. The older kids played “adults," the middle school kids were usually the “stars” and the younger kids were in the choruses. The teenagers also functioned as set crew, lights crew and production assistants. Eventually the now very experienced teens became student directors and acting coaches. 

Though we pulled a few kids from surrounding towns, about 90-95% have been kids from our own town. The schools allowed us to flier every student in grades 4 through 12 for auditions and every student in all grades for the actual shows. Needless to say, lots of kids auditioned and the audiences were huge from the very beginning. 

Ours is a community theatre, totally volunteer. We required every parent whose child was in the show to participate in some way. Some parents really got into it and did a lot of work, others just served at the refreshment stand for one show, which was OK, too. Surprisingly, parents who initially resented being required to participate ended up being our hardest workers and really got into the social aspects of being part of the theatre community. 

In future posts, we will give more detailed information on how to set up various aspects of running a community theatre and working with kids. We hope our perspective can assist and inspire others. We believe in what we are doing and know that these kinds of programs are immensely important to kids and to communities.