I joined a mommy group after my daughter was born. It met for about 8 weeks and it was something I really looked forward to every week during my maternity leave. In fact I still keep in touch with a few of the moms on Facebook. Something the group leader said once really stuck with me. She said it was not always our job as parents to provide but rather sometimes it is about facilitating. A simple example would be finding and taking our children to a pediatrician. I kept this in mind as I discovered my daughter was a tad bit more outgoing than I was and when she turned three I put her in a Creative Movement class at a local theater. Performing is something I admire but would never have been into (I am way too shy)! Since then she has taken one, sometimes two classes each year. She enjoys it. She says they play fun games and at the end of a session the classes perform a demonstration. This year she auditioned for and got a part in her first actual play! It was exciting and scary for all of us actually but now that it’s all done we can reflect and say it was a fantastic experience for her. She is ready to do it again and I will again be there to facilitate it for her!
And now for a little bit behind the scenes of a theater mom…
What an Audition Is Like
After class one day my daughter’s Creative Drama instructor told her and my husband that she should audition for Stuart Little, the play she would be directing. I brought her to the audition. We had to fill out a sheet that listed previous experience. I was able to list all her acting classes. Some kids also take dance and voice classes. She was called into a separate room for an interview (no moms allowed). After a little while she came out with a a boy and a couple pages of the script to practice. Then they went back in and did their reading (again no moms). A couple days later she got a “call back” which literally means she got a call from the director and was asked to return for a second audition. A few days after that the director called to say she got a part! Yay!
We heard rehearsal schedules can be grueling. I was also concerned that since she had such a small part that it might become boring (although I didn’t mention that to her)! This play has a mix of adults and children and I was actually a little worried about dropping her off until one of the other mothers assured me that all the adult actors have had CORI background checks. Rehearsals took about two months. At first they were two hours, a few times a week (night and weekends), by the end they increase in number and duration. Luckily we live pretty close to the theater and began car pooling with another family. The last week of rehearsals was a little crazy culminating on tech day when the actors had to be there for six hours and sets, sound, and lighting was incorporated.
There were 14 performances in total and even family of a cast member had to pay to see the show although you could volunteer to usher. We went as a family for opening night. My husband bought my daughter flowers. I was so nervous! My daughter was one of only two eight year olds in the production. What if she just froze?! I had no idea what to expect. And I was surprise to see the director sitting in the audience!
I was mesmerized! It was a great play and a fantastic opening night for my daughter and the entire cast (see Cape Cod Times review). I asked how she and everyone else knew what to do without the director backstage and she simply said, “because we practiced!” She also told me she couldn’t wait for the next night. Then it became much like a job although she never complained. I would drop her off well rested and fed and she would do her job. She even had to take two days off school to perform for school groups and there were a few matinees during her school vacation. She even signed a few autographs.
See a VERY brief video clip I took on Instagram.
After the last performance the actors’ family and friends brought food and everyone put away props, clean the dressing rooms, and deconstructed the sets. Then the cast performed skits. This is called strike and aside from opening night it was my daughter favorite part of the entire experience!
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I love that theater is all about a group of enthusiastic people collaborating to tell a story. I love falling under the spell of a great performance! I love that it feels inclusive and there is seems to be all kinds of roles for all kinds of people. I loved learning about how a production is put together and I am so incredibly proud of my daughter who is most certainly her own person and now has a resume!