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Theatre Production
High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By pointemomma Comments: 166, member since Fri Jun 02, 2006
On Thu Jan 08, 2009 03:22 PM

Okay, maybe a bit of a rant, but I'm also looking for information as to what's "typical" with plays/musicals done in high schools (as an extracurricular activity, after school). My daughter attends a small (100 per class) public high school. She also is involved in ballet classes, voice, piano, etc...as are many of the "theatre kids" here.

Auditions for the spring musical were posted for Tuesday. At the end of school (not announced, but word of mouth from the kids who had choir class) they were cancelled, and moved to Thursday. Reason? The scores hadn't arrived yet. The season was announced last June...it's now January...maybe they could have been ordered/rights secured a little sooner????

Dance audition call was to be last night at 6 p.m. At 6, daughter arrived to find a note on the auditorium door, "The dance audition has been moved to 7:30."

She is rescheduling herself to try to be flexible for these (and future rehearsals, should she make it), but this has required moving a voice lesson (that otherwise would not have had to been moved, given the actual audition reality), missing ballet classes, etc.

It is frustrating!! Callbacks are Saturday morning (and she has another arts requirement that meets on Saturday). She won't find out whether she's called back until Friday night, so will have to TRY to let the director know she must leave Saturday by 11:00...) The director doesn't answer emails. She doesn't return phone calls. She scoots out of school the minute the bell rings. (Basically, it's impossible for kiddo to talk to her...).

So...after all my venting (sorry....) I guess I want to know how other schools handle: 1.) scheduling of auditions 2.) what to do in case of unforeseen situation (like the moving of the dance call) 3.) how much of the rehearsal/prouduction schedule you receive ahead of time.

Daughter did the production last year w/same director, and things were much more organized...however, there was a stage manager who's since left...and I'm starting to wonder if he was really the organizational brains. Daughter did sound crew for the fall play (Anne Frank...and once again, the scripts "never came", forcing the cast to work from copies made from an English book....) and there was zero thought to the schedule for tech. At that time, I thought it was perhaps that she wasn't used to thinking about tech crew, having had her former stage manager to handle that...but now I'm starting to be concerned about the stress level of this upcoming production.

So...do tell how other schools handle this. Yikes!

7 Replies to High school production schedules...what is your policy?

re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6075, member since Tue Dec 20, 2005
On Thu Jan 08, 2009 03:36 PM
Wow, I'm really sorry things are that disorganized. We have a pretty Type A, cranky-old-man director, so everything happens when it's scheduled to happen.

When we start working on a show (usually about 2 1/2-3 months ahead of time), the tech crew gets a schedule of what dates and times we'll be working on the set/lights/etc. for the next month, and the cast gets a rehearsal schedule with all the dates and times they need to be there, and what we're doing each day.

Maybe if you have time, you could go in to the director yourself, and let her know that it's becoming inconvenient and difficult to plan when things aren't set in place ahead of time (and kept that way). If she doesn't help, and your school is more supportive of the arts (we have to push our secretaries into announcing our after-school meetings), maybe you could go to the principal or someone higher up and see if they can talk to the director.
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By two_sixteen Comments: 53, member since Thu Jan 01, 2009
On Mon Jan 12, 2009 09:53 PM
Ooohh see, our director is crazy. Literally. I swear he is senile or something. Nothing ever gets done, ever. I think it is a miracle we manage to pull shows together the way we do.
For our fall play, we didn't even HAVE auditions until 3 weeks before opening, and then it took him a week to get the cast list together, by then we had two weeks and didn't finish the set until opening night. The show somehow ended up being pretty good (or at least not terrible), but it was just such a stressful experience.
He will randomly cancel rehearsal, not tell anyone, and just never show up when the whole cast is there waiting. He never orders wood or paint for the set crew (even though we ask repeatedly) and then yells at them when there is no set. We never get anything done at rehearsals because he we just start from the top each time and change blocking every two days and then run it all over again. I don't think we ran our fall play in entirety until dress rehearsal. Sorry this is kind of a rant, I could go on and on. Just letting you know you're not alone in your frustration!
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By dancinqt5013member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3865, member since Wed Aug 17, 2005
On Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:20 PM
At my high school, our director was also a professional stage manager for the theatres in DC, so she had lots of background in the theatre world, and expected us to act like professionals as well. That normally meant crazy rehearsals. Generally, weekends were reserved for tech days, when the techies and actors (actors weren't mandatory though) would work on the set and lighting/sound cues and stuff like that. And that would normally be a 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening on a Sunday kind of thing. Weekday rehearsals wouldn't go past 5:30 and the scheduling was so exact that we just got a lot done (the schedule would read "3:45-4:15: Act I Sc. 5 with the following people; 4:15-5 Opening number choreography: full company, etc.). There were only three adults working on the play: the director, the musical director, and the choreographer. So the director did most of the scheduling herself. And she and the musical director worked at the school, so they were always there. The choreographer, though, was horrible at showing up and many numbers would go unchoreographed, or the dance captain(s) would have to finish the choreography.

However, auditions would go until 7:30 or 8 and be very "whenever we feel like doing what". Same with call backs. And the week before production week rehearsal would be until 7:30. And then you get to production week, or "hell week", because we are scheduled to be there until 9:30. And guess what? I don't remember a single day where we actually got out at 9:30. One time, we got out at 11:30. And on that night, the director decided to be merciful and "save the other four pages of notes for tomorrow". So it could get very hectic. Also, my director was not very good at listening to conflicts. I had dance ever monday one year and had to leave practice at 4, but she scheduled all of my important rehearsals for Mondays starting at 4, and then cut me from the scenes because "I didn't come to enough practices".

The theatre world is very hectic, especially if the student has other extracurriculars. You really have to be devoted to the play and only the play in the director's eyes. And it's really annoying for the parents.

Oh, and last year I found out on Sunday night that I got a callback, which was on Monday after school, and I had a doctor's appointment scheduled then that I couldn't reschedule. I wasn't the only one, so the director let me off the hook. But normally you don't find out about callbacks until right before. Normally we would finish auditions on Thursday, people would find out Thursday night, and go to callbacks on Friday.
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:55 PM
Any time I ran a school production, the entire schedule was posted beforehand and the only change that would be made was if the students thought they needed an extra rehearsal and consensus was reached with the entire group that all would be available before the actual rehearsal would be scheduled.

Sometimes things do happen to delay receiving scripts, etc. One year we had a company dither for months about giving us the rights to a show and then decided against it. We then had only two or three weeks before rehearsals started to come up with a new show that would suit the students and would be available for us to produce. We had already auditioned the students (with a general audition, not a show-specific one) and chosen the cast before this happened. Our auditions were two months before commencement of rehearsals due to school holidays and exam sessions.

Helen
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By Miyuki_chanmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1496, member since Fri Dec 03, 2004
On Tue Jan 13, 2009 03:20 PM
Our director typically held auditions about the 2nd week of December..the cast list was posted right before the winter holiday and rehearsals would start the 2nd week of January and go straight through until opening (last week of March the earliest first week of April the latest.) The craziest time is definitely the last week before opening. That's when we have rehearsal M-F 2:30-10 Sat off and Sunday 10A-3PM. The very last rehearsal before the show that gets done during the school day (for senior citizens from the assisted living center and the middle school kids) would go from 2:30 until 11 and after she'd unveil the song that summed up her experience with the show, give us some words of wisdom and encouragement and then we'd do our token ceremony. Every show she'd give us a small trinket that we were to keep on our person all during production week for good luck, those were that brought everyone (cast, crew, techies..everyone) closer together..inevitably we'd all end up crying before we left at 12 or so. During performance week we'd have to be to the school 2-3 hours before curtain..we'd all bring food with us and have a picnic either in the choir room with music blaring out of the sound system, or out in the hallway..with music still blaring. my most memorable was definitely my Senior year, the final night we went up to the town ampitheater that's behind the school and we ate, drank, played frisbee, ran around and took pictures..then we went back inside and ate pizza and (Caffine-free) soda on the stage and watched her very first production of Pippin from 1984..which is also the show she ended with in 2004 (my senior year). Then we all got ready and about an hour and a half before curtain we sat down in the darkened choir room and listened to our "theme song" for the show (Into The West from LOTR:Return of the King) and had quiet time. The Seniors cried a bit and then it was showtime.

unfortunately after our graduating class no one else got to experience a show with that director because she was stricken with brain cancer and passed away in 2006. (our memorial song to her was Into the West. I still can't listen to that without crying.)
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By Felsamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4038, member since Thu Nov 09, 2006
On Tue Jan 13, 2009 04:13 PM
For me it was all about what was more important for me at the time. I remember we had 4 weeks to put a show together, but it was a traveling show. One show was actually 5 hours away which made for a fun trip.

I did have to cancel some dance classes here and there and I missed school (it was done through the school so the teachers were okay with it) and had to book days off work. I personally do not think it is fair to sign up for something and go "Well I cant make it this day" and the let the whole cast down. That is just the way I raised though. I knew by missing some dance classes I was not effecting anyone else and if I missed theater rehersal I would have let the entire cast down because I had a large roll.

I guess I would just sit down and find out what is most important to you. Sure your child loves all of these things, but if they want to be a professional dancer and the play would cut into that time, maybe they sit the play out.

Our director was good about a schedual and it was closely followed unless we needed extra work on a scene. But with all the traveling involved I had to give up something.
re: High school production schedules...what is your policy?
By Chepyl Comments: 2346, member since Mon May 03, 2004
On Wed Feb 25, 2009 09:49 AM
Some highschools that I work with just say that everyone cast should be there everyday for rehearsal no matter what (this is not fair to the ensemble). Really it is not that hard to make a rehearsal schedule!

It is sad to say that a lot of high school musical schedules are like that. Most of the time the person directing is the music teacher or and english teacher, not a person trained in theatre. If they have not taken a course in directing, or worked with a well organized director they just don't know how to break the script down for a rehearsal schedule. Directing a musical is a hugh undertaking. When a teacher has to plan and teach a full class load and take on the musical as extra duties, the musical does not always get the time and attention it requires to be well organized.

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