Thank you to Staci Sabarsky, a former FL Drama Kids of Hillsborough County teacher, for writing this wonderful article.
Don’t just stand there, stand out– was this week’s Drama Kids Phrase of the Week (POW)! As we began discussing the spring plays with students this week, we discussed things that make performances memorable. The discussion included things like characterization and the use of voice to help create a character or environment. Additionally, we talked about how to stand out and make the most of every moment on stage. Sometimes student actors (and even adult actors) get caught up in how many lines they have in a show. Instead of making the most of a character, they throw the opportunity away. Oftentimes, it’s the characters that have the smallest number of lines that can steal the show. For example, I watched a production of The Importance of Being Earnest where the servant stole the show every time he entered by his extremely slow walk (he seemed ancient) and facial expressions in response to the conversation that was happening around him.
As a director, those are the type of actors I want to cast. The type of actors who seize the opportunity to create something that may not be so well defined in the script. The type of actors who are always listening and responding in character. The type of actors who are always present on stage, who help add subtext or even humor to a scene that may not otherwise be there. Returning to my original example, the servant in The Importance of Being Earnest doesn’t have many lines and mostly they are responses like, “Yes sir.” But, when subtext is added through tone of voice, facial expression, and reactions to what is being said by the other characters, the audience starts to watch that skilled actor see how they in fact should feel.
So, how can you help your student actor realize that being part of a production is not about how many lines you have? How can you help your child to stand out, as it were? You can let them know that everyone has a place in our Drama Kids show’s team or cast. I often liken it to an athletic team. For example, in baseball when your team is up, there is only one person up at bat and perhaps a few others warming up while the rest sit in the dugout and support them. Then, there are other times when the whole team is in the field together working as a team to get the other team out. Think about it. What would happen if the outfielder just stood there and wasn’t paying attention to the hits as they were coming their way?
On our end, we will continue to work on keeping everyone engaged in the scenes. We will ask them questions about how they feel about the conversation going on around them in the scene. We will ask them to show us their reactions through their faces, gestures, and use of props. We will continue to build each show’s team. That is the sign of a great director, in my opinion. It’s the ones who take the time to work with every actor, to create a feeling of ensemble or supportive group working towards the same goal. Not to get the other team out, of course, but to have the best show possible where everyone feels respected and valued.
Constantin Stanislavski said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” I’ve remembered this quote throughout my career because it’s true. So, please encourage your child to think big and challenge them, along with us to Stand Out!
At Drama Kids International, every child is a star! Our program helps develop confidence in children of all ages through fun drama activities and theater games. Contact your local Drama Kids today!