Happy holidays to all of our friends and family! Gary usually does the ‘blogging’ for GEM Theatrics, but I thought I’d try my hand at it for a change.
We try to keep everyone updated on our personal Facebook pages about our latest activities, sharing photos of family and our other activities. But, it has occurred to me, that while GEM Theatrics is mostly about the shows we perform together, both Gary and I are involved in a number of theatrical activities throughout the year that aren’t necessarily produced by GEM, and perhaps the blog is the place to share these productions in depth.
My most recent endeavor was guest directing the winter play at East Grand Rapids High School. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson is a very fun show, and has roles for adults and kids in a wide range of ages. It had been decided by Pamela Steers, Director of Drama Activities at EGRHS, and Harry Coffill, (the teacher originally slated to direct) that they would like to include middle school students in the production, since many of the children in the story are younger. Also, there are currently no formal drama activities at the middle school, and they both thought this would fill a void and also help grow Pam’s program at the high school for the future.
It was great fun and a wonderful learning experience for me and all the students involved. The high school kids had to step it up a notch, both in performance and in setting the example for drama at EGRHS, and the middle school kids were introduced to the high school drama experience and all got a chance to work with a new director. We were all a little worried about how the younger students would get along and be accepted by the older kids, and we had our struggles, but at the closing night party, we saw them all mingling together, taking selfies to post on Facebook, and sharing phone numbers.
It has been over four years since I’ve had the opportunity to work with students as a director and it was not only fun, but gratifying to see them grow as actors and people. I had a fairly inexperienced crew and showing them the ropes was hard work and maybe a little more ‘teaching’ than I bargained for. In fact, I wish I’d had more time to spend with them individually.
Grand Rapids photographer, Jan Lewis took some great photos of the show, and I thought for a small, “black box” production, it looked decent. My blocking and stage pictures are what I had in mind and the costumes set the tone for the era in which I set the show. My partner and resident sound designer, Gary, did a great job selecting the pre-show music which really set the mood for the time period and the retro silver Christmas tree at the end was the icing on the cake!