Cindy Says: Make Them Hear You

Cindy Says: Make Them Hear You

By Cindy Ripley on April 05, 2021

Spring. My favorite season, hands down. Maybe that is why I love green, I love new growth, I love a good reveal, and I might not thrive in a climate where all four seasons are the same. In many cultures, spring is a symbol of growth, renewal, and better times. Springtime 2021 is taking on that exact interpretation for most of us. Human connections, resuming professions and passions, and one that has been most controversial - transitioning virtual to in-person school for our students of all ages.

What do we do to gently and safely take our future and treasured resource, our students, back into a slightly altered world of creating theater? Many kids are zoomed out and haven't performed in any form for a year. Some can hardly remember the joy of teamwork. Many of you have re-opened your programs with an abundance of guidelines in your hands. How do we instantly re-spark what we had with students and move forward in a safe artistic environment?

I asked a highly respected educator and dear friend Dr. Joanne O'Kain from Roy Waldron Elementary School in La Vergne, Tennessee her thoughts. Not only does Joanne recognize what nurtures kids' minds and talents using theatre skills, but she understands what it takes to sustain programs in ever-changing communities. I asked her if she would share some of her techniques as she begins the magic again with her students.

• Create clear expectations. Make sure families know that students will wear masks, take temperatures and have sanitizer available at all times. Joanne offers Zoom class/sessions if a child is sick or contract traced.

• Double casting a show can ease a director's mind about sick kids, and it gives students more performance opportunities. Joanne is currently running 2 casts, but ALL students are in both casts. Ariel of cast A will be a sea creature in cast B. If Ariel from cast A took ill, she has Ariel from cast B to use in all of the shows.

• Create a space that is large enough and comfortable for your performers and stage crew. This might mean less kids for this year's show, or inspire creative blocking!

• This year, Joanne has chosen to have a live audience, but the audience is 30-50% capacity and will have socially distanced seating. Investigate your varied streaming options and customize the choices to your community guidelines.

• As teachers, we want students to have an AMAZING time, look SUPERB, and sound FANTASTIC. If less rehearsals or missing kids hinder that, it will be OK! Dr. O'Kain shares the advice that she has given herself: permission not to be perfect.

• Share your love of theatre with others in a safe space and your performance will be 2021 memorable.

As a best practice, I work theatre transitions until they are seamless. Use your skills and bring your students back to your stages with TLC. CR

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