Feeling a little intolerant today

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tiredmommy, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    So Duckie is in a local troupe's production of the Wizard of Oz. She's a munchkin, flying monkey and a resident of the Emerald City. That's three costume changes... so my neighbor and I decided to take turns being backstage to help our girls with the changes, etc.

    There are at least 45 children in this show.

    No one is taking responsibility for them.

    And you all can imagine the mayhem that has resulted.

    I am going to be royally ****** off if I need to babysit these kids rather than enjoy Duckie in the show.

    Grrr. :angrygirl:
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Extremely frustrating!!!
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    You want maybe I should come to your school? Tap a few of da Mother's on the shoulder eh? You know I would. (Old country hand gestures and shoulder shrug)
  4. tawnya

    tawnya New Member

    I was thinking maybe you could sneak into a flying monkey costume and go into the audience?
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Actually, Star, could you come and keep order? Things went mostly better tonight... after I spent the better part of the day prepping kid-friendly activities and creating a few rule charts (complete with-glitter glue). I've identified two difficult children: a 7 year old boy and 8 year old girl, both diagnosis'd with ADHD. The boy is already behaving better with the help of some positive reinforcement and direction and the girl just needs someone to help her not get too far out of control. I have the older kids helping the younger kids: reading stories, playing board games together and coloring. I'm just concerned for when I try to actually watch the show....
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    No stage manager? Even adults in a professional production get a stage manager to tell them their cue. They should have a dresser, a make-up person, wardrobe person (separate from dresser) and backstage technicians. That's adults.

    Kids need more.

    In my girls' dance concerts or other similar stage events, they had people backstage to keep order. These people were credited in the program. They were also organised to a large extent; or if they were not, then it was free-for-all with all parents there, or someone delegated to be there, for each child. I used to get a couple of parents asking me to help their girls backstage.

    TM, this group sounds not only ridiculously inexperienced, but irresponsible as well.

  7. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Marg- I think they are inexperienced at dealing with this this number of children. Most shows don't require 45+ kids to stage. Last night was better when the kids had stuff to occupy them.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Some of the shows my kids have been involved in, have had maybe 10 kids. And even then, there was always adults present, usually several. With ten kids.

    School stage productions my kids have been involved in, had staff members delegated to support students who were supervising and organising every stage. Younger school productions had staff members corralling kids. Older school productions, the staff stood back but were still present. Private dance concerts or drama groups - parents get formally recruited, assuming there isn't dance teachers available to step in and organise the cast.

    Larger productions, it goes without saying that you need someone in charge of each group, to get them here or there. For example with Wizard of Oz, you would have a Munchkins wrangler, a Monkey wrangler, a dresser in each group (could be wrangler, but you would then need at least two with those numbers) as well as someone roaming keeping an eye on kids staying quiet and ready. Stage manager to liaise. To try to put on something that complex, without even a stage manager - has the director ever done this before? Without parents wanting to kill him/her?


    If you can, try to talk to someone (another parent you trust; the director; someone organising it) and ask for your involvement to be officially noted as being needed. Then see if someone can take a turn in your shoes, so you can see at least one full performance.

    When I look back, I often didn't see the performance of my kids form the audience. I remember an ambitious Lord of the Rings dance concert (the whole lot was compressed into a 45 minute show) where I watched from a peephole in the set (it was thankfully in the round) because I was narrator. I had the NZ-born brother of the choreographer/director telling me how to pronounce things "It's pronounced G-OH-lem."
    "Yeah, mate? Not in my book... now get out there and be Gandalf and stop telling me my job."


  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Marg- I sent a very (!!!) detailed email to both the stage director & production manager this evening as the children were really wild this evening. I also informed them that I would be in the audience tomorrow and that I will not be thrust into the position of being responsible for that many children again (I will be there to help Duckie and other kids change costumes).
  10. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Marg here, hijacking my husband's login on his laptop. We're down at mother in law's, watching Iron Chef.

    husband reminded me that our kids have been part of a big stage production - the NSW Schools Spectacular! That's a cast of three thousand kids, folks. husband says he believes it is the biggest show on earth, literally.

    easy child was in this for the first time (they're held every year, always different) when she was about 6 years old. They use the best performers from all government schools in the state, from 4 to 19 (or older). easy child 2/difficult child 2 has the record for being the youngest child ever, in a School Spec. She was barely 5 years old, by a matter of weeks.

    The kids only get a couple of rehearsals with everyone there - the individual schools have to put together a performance with costumes earlier in the year, and basically audition. Based on all the schools' individual performances, the organisers set up a group performance. Some of the items can have a thousand or more kids on stage at the same time. The finale has ALL the performers on stage all together. There are solo items, small sketches, there is a choir made of kids from schools all over the state. The choirs rehearse separately.

    This place is huge, there is no way, for safety reasons, that the kids would not be supervised. Each separate school has at least one teacher, usually several (or sometimes a parent who has been carefully selected, trained and rehearsed). The teachers often perform with the kids (for the younger kids) in costume. Each performer also gets a t-shirt (different each year) which they wear over their costumes to and from dress rehearsals and performances. Getting a role in School Spec is very highly valued by schools and student. However, the high school that difficult child 1 & easy child 2/difficult child 2 went to did not have the standard high enough, nor did they seem to want to put in the effort. easy child 2/difficult child 2's circus skills would have got her in every year, if the school had nominated her. But then a teacher would have had to go in with her, even though I was prepared to do the job. Typical of that dud school - they simply didn't want to go to the trouble, I was so cranky.

    But back to Schools Spec - easy child has a collection of t-shirts from her many years in succession as a performer. The organisation was done with military precision. A lot of Aussie professional singers, dancers etc got their start in Schools Spec, as school students. A classic example is the all-male singing group, "Human Nature" who I know have toured the US. I remember seeing them perform I think the first year easy child 2/difficult child 2 was in the show. That year she was in a small sketch acting out kids being read a bedtime story, while a soloist sang a lullaby. In the skit, easy child 2/difficult child 2, who really was tiny, had to pretend to fall asleep on a big boy's shoulder during the story. She then got gently carried off as the other children (about five of them) followed, yawning. Poor kid - she had bad tonsillitis that night, we were dosing her with paracetamol and antibiotics and the teacher was really watching her closely backstage. I was not permitted backstage because security is so very tight.

    Another big performance my kids were in, courtesy of the school, was when Prince Charles was addressing an event in Darling Harbour on Australia Day in 1994. easy child & difficult child 1 were in a dance group which performed on stage for the prince, then the kids went downstairs to the dressing room. Just then there was a commotion, a student jumped up on stage to shoot Prince Charles with a starting pistol (it turned out). My kids missed seeing it. So did I - I was at the hospital, in labour, with difficult child 3.
    Again, the school was only allowed to be involved because they had good backstage supervision and care of the kids.

    It can be done. It should be done. The bigger the production, the more important it is to get it done right.

    TM, stand your ground. As long as you're quietly stepping in to make sure things aren't a disaster, the teacher won't have to deal with the consequences of her lack of foresight and organisation. I would actually put it in writing at some point, perhaps after the whole thing is over.

    For a number of years, I was part of the organisation of a local annual performance (a Christmas concert, put together by various professional performers living in our village). One jazz singer who also has been a professional stage manager, said we MUST do a post-mortem meeting (with notes) after each year's event, while it's still fresh, in order to learn from any mistakes and also capitalise on anything that worked well. It really is a good idea to do this. OK, in your case it's not going to happen, but you can feed back (make sure you include some positive "this worked well" stuff to praise the teacher) and make suggestions on how to make the show even better next time.

    A show is a lot more than what is seen on stage. A lot of stuff has to happen backstage, and happen well, in order for things to seem to run smoothly on stage. I think this teacher is perhaps a good performer, but a total novice when it comes to organising others in a production. She may be a good choreographer, she may be a great performer, but it sounds like she's utter rubbish when it comes to the whole shebang. She needs to call on help from someone who does know the technical backstage stuff and how to have it all run smoothly.

    You haven't said, but I'm betting - there are long gaps during which nothing happens on stage, while the next lot of kids are chivvied into position and the last lot get off. The audience gets restless, fidgetty, lose interest. It is embarrassing. But even an amateur show with kids, can be streamlined well. It's a matter purely of backstage crowd control. Never have kids exiting the same side as the next act trying to enter. Or if you have no choice, find a way to separate entrances and exits, so the flow of performers happens fast and smoothly. The performers need to know their places in line and to be there ready. Discipline. This does take, especially with younger kids, someone to help with each group. So that can be a start for a suggestion.

    If I'm wrong, and the show is flowing well, then this woman does have what it takes and has just neglected this in the hope of some muggins like you stepping in to avoid blood on the floor. That is irresponsible.

    I hope you get to enjoy the show.