Friday at March Break Camp features our Play-in-a-Day program! We couldn't think of a better activity for the rainy, windy day that we are having here in Aurora. This is one of our most popular workshops we offer as it takes children through the entire theatrical process in one day - from planning, to casting, to creating backdrops and props, to costume design, to blocking, to acting and all the way to a performance! Here are some steps you can follow at home...
Choose a story - a family favourite, a well-known fairy tale, or something new. We were planning to perform Mortimer by Robert Munsch with our campers today so we will use that as our example.
Read and discuss the story. We talk about our favourite parts, the characters, the setting, the props required, and then we make a list - our production meeting portion of the day.
Casting and read-through. Decide who will play which role(s). The great thing about Mortimer is that you have the majority of the characters right in your own home! There is a child, their parents, their siblings...and a couple of police officers. You can either double-cast for the roles you don't have or create puppets or print colouring pages. Don't have seventeen brothers and sisters? Tailor the story to fit your needs. Read through the story with each actor saying their lines - embellish, ad lib, elaborate as much as you want.
Setting. In our program we paint backdrops on banner paper for the different settings of the play. If you don't have large paper rolls at home, you can simply draw smaller ones that you can hang up, or use furniture or items from around the house to create the settings. In the case of Mortimer, you could simply act out the story in your home - start in the living room, go up the stairs, to your child's bedroom, and then back down again.
Props. We were planning to make some homemade noisemakers and shakers for the children to use while they sing "Clang, clang, rattle bing bang..." You can use anything from around the house - a water bottle filled with pasta, a tupperware container filled with rice, or google homemade instruments. For other stories, create a scavenger hunt around the house to find the props that you need. You can also print colouring pages of the items, or have the children make them as a craft.
Costumes. For Mortimer, all you need are pyjamas! Don't have a police uniform? Find some blue clothing or add a badge to a suit jacket. If you're working on another story, get creative! Use a grey blanket for the big bad wolf, a yellow scarf for Rapunzel's hair, pink clothing for the three little pigs...
Act it Out. This is the fun part! Act out the story and add as much creative flare as you can. Practice all day long, or only once - whatever suits you.
It's Showtime! Although we can't invite neighbours, family or friends to this performance, get creative! Use Facetime to perform for Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Friends or record it and watch it later. Just be sure to take lots of pictures and share them with us :)
This program can be as simple or as complex as you choose. The children can simply act out portions of a book as you read it, or it can be tailored to last a full week - stretch it out, work on a different component each day and then perform it at the end of the week!
Looking for more? Munsch at Play and Munsch at Play Act 2 are two great resources available from Indigo or Amazon featuring some of Robert Munsch's classic stories, turned into plays.