Theatre 7 & 8: Advanced Theatre
Welcome to our advanced Theatre class at FSMS. In order to get into this class you had to either have taken a form of Theatre before (Theatre / Speech or Creative Performance) or auditioned to be admitted.
As the advanced class, I expect a level of professionalism from my students. I, or Ms. Ripple, have spent a year already working with you on your acting skills and stagecraft. In this course, we will further advance those skills by producing quality, entertaining plays for the general public. If you are not cast in a show, you will be expected to support the show in various capacities, as well as prepare performance pieces for Speech and Drama Tournaments (TBA).
The Theatre teachers of FBISD are in the process of setting up structures, curriculum, and benchmarks to ensure that our students are acquiring and practicing skills that will ready them for the next step in this artistic discipline. By the time students graduate from 8th grade, we hope that they will be ready to become active in their high school Theatre program.
Part of this alignment includes Auditioning. as well as certain rehearsal practices. A stronger approach to Elements of Design, as well as Marketing and Publicity will be taken. I have a goal of all advanced students graduating from this school year with the seed of a Design Portfolio, resume, and two contrasting audition pieces. Students will have a certain amount of flexibility to pursue their specific interests in these areas. As such, they will also be responsible for a considerable amount more research and homework than previous years.
It is important for students to become aware of the broad applications of Theatre as soon as possible. Career opportunities and methods of funding college are much more prevalent within these new emphases than within performance. I owe it to the students to introduce them to these necessary supporting roles.
A Word About Rehearsals & Performances
We will rehearse as much as possible in class, but some additional rehearsal will be required. I will publish that rehearsal schedule before casting is finalized. Please check that calendar with all of your other calendars. If a significant number of conflicts with time before or after school are present, please let me know. You may be asked to step out of consideration for a role, so that I can choose from students available for before or after school rehearsals. Tech rehearsals are crucial, as are set-building days and dress rehearsals. These rehearsals qualify as co-curricular (we will not be selling tickets or concessions), as are performances. Attendance is required and you will be graded on criteria for performance, audience, and/or backstage behavior. Again, if you cannot make these rehearsals or performances, you will be given an alternative assignment.
Login Instructions for CHARMS Calendar
To enter CHARMS and view the calendar (as well as volunteer sign-up lists), click on the button above. At the prompt, type the school code: FSMSDrama. Next, enter the Student Area Password, which is the student's I.D. number. (At this time, only 6th and 7th Period Theatre Arts students have been entered.)
A Word About Auditions & Role Selection
We are lucky to have a very large advanced Theatre classes. Though I attempt to choose large-cast shows to fill our season, those type of shows that are of quality and are appropriate for Middle School consumption are few and far between. Not every student will get cast in every show. Further, there is too much emphasis on "winning" lead roles or parts with the most lines. A different attitude must be adopted by students, parents, and me, the instructor/director. Rather than competing for roles, we should view auditions as "mini-performances". I will do my best as a teacher and a director to give each student productive feedback concerning the quality of the audition. Regardless of whether the student is assigned an acting role or not, I hope for the audition process to end with the student knowing what she or he did well in the audition, what I would like to see improve by the next audition, and a specific challenge to help make the production a success.
The person with the best audition does not always get the largest role. This is a necessary fact of life. Many factors go into assigning roles. Certainly, the audition is a strong deciding factor. Finding a balance within the cast is my greatest responsibility to the production. I also owe my students certain considerations that go beyond cultivated talent. Sometimes, I am presented with unique opportunities to guide a student who is just about ready to advance to the next level in ability.
I pledge to inform my students of my casting decisions with methods that preserves the dignity and ego of my Middle School students. Major decisions will be delivered by hand or electronically so that the student can choose when he or she reads the information. Except for the proposed Talent Show, I will not post cast lists on the call board until I am certain each student has had ample time to check their email or read my audition ballot. (Students should expect, though, that in most situations, casting decisions in educational settings are usually posted publicly first. This will not be my practice, but we will practice this form of notification in imaginary situations.)
Casting Mini-Lesson: Hello, Dolly!
Just imagine you are a director with a limitless budget, able to cast any person who auditions for you. (Your budget is so vast, you can even fast-track the invention of a time machine. Stay with me...) The show you have been hired to direct is the classic musical, Hello, Dolly! On the day of the audition, three women walk through the door, all of them perfect for the role. These are the women who walk through the door:
Who do you cast?
Tough decision, huh? (For my students reading this who may not know, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, and Barbra Streisand were famous for playing the title character in Hello, Dolly!)
I am sure you may enjoy one of their performances more than the other two, but hopefully, you realize that much of the decision may come down to the rest of the cast and its balance.
That's the way it is in class, as well. I may have several very able actors who prove in auditions that they can play the part well. How each person balances with my other casting options is very often a determining factor.
I will strive to make sure each student gets a worthwhile amount of stage time. More importantly, I will strive to make each of my students' time in my class worthwhile.
It should be noted that a student's reaction to audition decisions, positive or negative, as well as the earnestness of his or her efforts on other assignments and during rehearsals influence future casting decisions. It is important that we practice professional attitudes during the entire production process.
*This mini-lesson was borrowed from a teacher who suggested it while leading a session at TETA. As soon as I learn her name, I will credit her with the lesson.