The Unlikely Actor

For the past 11 years, in our drama production classes, everyone who signs up for class commits to the end-of-semester production.

That is the purpose of the class.  Everyone’s in. No auditions. Our musical comedy for that semester must include each person in the class. Thus, the necessity to customize each script. If the actor is new to me, I have to guess the best I can, but it’s worked out amazingly well.

Most of the kids (ages 9 to 18) want to be in the class. Some have been regulars for the entire 11 years. Some come and go, depending on other activities or class needs in their lives. Many bound into the class at age 9 after waiting impatiently for years to qualify. They’ve watched the productions, hounded their moms, finally had “the” birthday, and they are ready! (It does make a writer/director feel good!)

Sometimes a mom will “persuade” a son or daughter to sign up for class (or just put them in it) because it will “do them some good,” “bring them out a little,” challenge them, push them out of their shy comfort zone, etc. Usually I go very gently on such a child and cast them where they can ease into the stage experience with just enough lines and not too much pressure. I get a variety of outcomes. The kid may be there one semester and never return. The kid may decide they enjoy it enough to continue and I bring them along slowly and steadily. And occasionally they discover they really love it! And mom tells me that drama is now all they talk about. And I’m talking about guys, not just girls.

I’ve got a couple of guys like that right now. I took a chance on the younger one because I needed to — I only had two fellas in the younger class (which is unusual — one time I had only one girl). This kid was new and drama was not his dream. But I put him in a starring role — and he blossomed! He decided he really liked it and he took direction well and he improved with every rehearsal, finally doing a great job in the performance.

The older guy was new the previous semester and did a decent job in a supporting role. I could tell he was trying and improving as class progressed. He liked it enough to return, to his mom’s great surprise and delight. I crafted a funny role just for him in a new comedy — it turned out to be my favorite character. He grabbed hold of it and became a star! And got rave reviews.

The unlikely actor — look for them, take a chance on them, and encourage them. It’s a rewarding experience!

2 Responses to The Unlikely Actor

  • Watching from the balcony says:

    You are so right. Both of these guys are awesome. The older student came into drama with a “look” that said I am way too cool for drama and I thought his mother had to have put him in Drama class as some type of punishment for an offense. He did a fine job his first semester but this semester he showed us all just how cool he is and just how cool Drama class is. He was my favorite character as well. He did an EXCELLENT job and stole the show though he was surrounded by several other fine actors.
    There are those students who return each semester and almost begrudgingly say their lines as if they are too embarassed to “shine”. Still their are those who come out of nowhere and those who return each semester and play the part convincingly that you feel like you know that character. What a pleasure it is to watch these students grow.

  • Cathy says:

    It is amazing seeing the light in their eyes!! I think that “older” student is my son! The first semester he signed up for Drama because there was nothing else that time period that interested him. His shyness came off as “I am too cool to be here” but he enjoyed it enough to sign up for another semester. Mrs. Cranfill has a way of putting kids in just the right part and this past year was amazing!! Now, he is not only looking forward to doing it again next semester he is also signing up at Family Friendly Productions for the summer!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *