Drama in Middle School is a given. Hard working, dedicated, expressive, amazing students in Honors Drama, put “drama” in a category of Art! I am celebrating some amazing middle school students and their Drama performance at the state Theater Conference. Thanks to Ruth Ayers who invites us to celebrate and share our celebrations on her blog in a blog link up.
Earlier this week, I witnessed my oldest child and her Honors Drama school ensemble perform one evening at their school. Their drama called “Ths Phne 2.0: The Next Generation” has multiple acts where the actors depict how phones play an important and sometimes, a way too important part in a teenager’s life. The shortened form of “This Phone” in the play’s title is indicative of the shortened spellings in text messages. It was written as multiple vignettes to have monologues and ensemble acting which highlight how cell phones, cell service, ring tones, texting instead of face to face talking are changing how people communicate and not always for the better especially when it comes to letters that are left out of texts and the overuse of emoticons in emails.
I sat expectantly today at the NCTC (North Carolina Theater Conference) for their group to act. During the morning session while I was present, the middle schoolers at this special Saturday gathering acted their hearts out. I began to feel butterflies knowing that my own child was about to perform a monologue and an ensemble scene. When it was her school group’s turn, they rose from being watchers of other school groups to being performers. I admire them and their willingness to not only memorize lines, but put the vignettes together through months of before school practices. It was their moment to shine and shine they did! I made an Animoto movie of their scenes and placed it here.
I liked how the two judges came on stage to give verbal feedback to each group after they had been seated in the audience. One group, who performed a Robin Hood comedy before my daughter’s school, was given the following feedback: The group was complimented on their style and group timing. They were told that everybody has to push and at no time can the energy drop. The judges said, “Wherever your energy starts, you have to keep it going to the end. You embraced the style. There was a lovely range of vocal and physical expression. You trusted people on stage. If you were to continue to work on this, I would say that the more you believe it, the more the audience will remember it. What I will remember is the ensemble.”
When our group sat in the first two rows immediately following their performance, their feedback from the judges included these words:
The first judge thought it was a fun show. It made him feel old because of him being around when he had to go outside to get a signal and raise the antenna on the first cell phones.
He loved the music at the top of the show and the energy it brought during the setup.
He loved their colorful tee shirts with icon pics on front. (These icons are ways that we identify apps.) He liked that the icons were painted on boxes and used on the entire stage.
His suggestion was to tighten up transitions and perhaps have ringtones in between transitions.
He told them to work on comic timing. “Don’t feel like you have to punch everything.”
He suggested that they continue to work on projection and diction.
The other judge loved the use of space in parts that used everybody on stage and thought their costumes were effective being a variety of colors. Their ensemble work was really good.
Her suggestions about Monologues were this: “Know to whom you are talking. Talk to someone specific and it will help you make choices and help you find dynamics that will give the nuances.”
She continued, “Watch out for extraneous movement. You can fill space with voice. When you are still, you are magnetic enough to bring us in. The most powerful you can be is when you are still.”
I am celebrating each child today and their amazing drama teacher. They worked to prepare and accomplished not only a memorable performance, but can now look back and see how much that their individual work matters to their team effort. I saw some kids project more than they did when I first saw the performance last Tuesday. They were determined and focused. Their dramatic skills, amazing talent and their effort are to be commended. Each actor or actress had their own style which will only continue to develop. The audience was engaged and laughed or clapped throughout the performance.
I’m happy and honored to see what I saw today. At the end of the Conference, the cast won an Excellence in Ensemble Acting and were all called on stage for a picture and recognition. Their group members also won a couple of other awards. Ultimately, the teamwork made it all possible!