I have always enjoyed it when my director will openly listen to suggestions, even if they don’t always like them and say no to them. It’s just so fun - especially in melodramas and other “cheesy” shows - to come up with small things (costume or prop ideas, actions or small lines, etc.) that make the performance so much more fun to watch.
I have been involved in many children’s shows and high school productions, and it has come to my attention that often times, the kids - those that we put the shows together for - don’t get a say in what’s going on. Many times, they are given a part, handed a script and thrown into a costume and they don’t get a word in. This is very frustrating to me as an actor who is always thinking of ways to make things better. Kids should be allowed to have a say in their show.
I first noticed this after I had just done a teenage-version of the play Fairy-Tale Courtroom, a hilarious show where the Wicked Witch and the Big Bad Wolf are being tried for their many crimes. As a cast, we were all able to ham it up by changing little things - blocking, lines, and props mostly. It was the best show I’ve ever been in; the show was extremely amusing, and it always kept us thinking of ways to better it, even if our ideas weren’t all used (not to mention the fantastic cast that we had).
Only a few months later I auditioned for another teenage show, excited to get started. As I watched the directors (don’t get me wrong - I truly love both of them!), they tended to not be as open to suggestions, whether it be in music or blocking. There were some things that they would listen to and consider, but it felt as though they almost weren’t willing to take our ideas. This might not have been the reason for it, but that production wasn’t nearly as fun as the one in which our director asked for recommendations - in fact, you couldn’t even compare the two. Not only did I enjoy one more than the other, but the audiences did too. After Fairy-Tale Courtroom, I had tons of people - friends, family, and even strangers - telling me how much they enjoyed the show, and some came twice. Following the second production, people seemed to keep their heads down as they left and my family told me that “it was okay I guess…”
I believe that if a person is willing to direct a children’s show, they need to be willing to listen to suggestions. Not only does it make the experience better and make the kids feel loved, but it might even make the show that much better, because honestly, kids are pretty hilarious.
Photo: Ogunquit Playhouse