Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lion King

We have finished our first weekend of the Lion King. This has been such a wonderful experience.
When I was in fifth grade, my beloved teacher, Ms. Ann Perkins helped us put on Mary Poppins. I was cast as Mary Poppins and it changed my life. I discovered a true love for theater and it led me to a career as an actress and producer.
Last year, I went to our local elementary school and asked if I could do the same for Davis's fifth grade play. I was so lucky in that both the music teacher and the principal immediately said yes and promised support. Mr. Haygood, the music teacher, and his wife, Laura, a professional director offered to help me. Our family foundation agreed to support my efforts and help purchase the rights for the play through MTI. In September, we set the schedule and held auditions. I had originally hoped that we could incorporate the play through the fifth grade, having teachers use it on many layers and with the GT students doing dramaturgy. We didn't get the initial level of of commitment that I had envisioned but we did get some. We cast 24 students and through the next month gained five more. Davis was cast as Scar.
We rehearsed for two hours every Monday and Wednesdays after school. I drove kids home. I went early. I called and emailed and begged for help. I got some great help. Local artist Christopher Barnett made the set and helped us find props. Laura was a wizard at creating props from junk. Our church sewing guild from the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship , offered to sew our costumes which Laura designed and found fabric. One of our parents, Celina offered to do programs and PR. Mike Smith, another parent and local businessman donated four wireless microphones and sound equipment and his time to be our sound guy. The high school theater teacher, Jack Moore bought lights and lent us a spotlight and a crew of interns to run lighting. Samuel got to intern on the lights and it has rocked his world. We had the local paper come out and interview our kids and write two glowing articles. The secretary at Crockett was there for me every time. The janitorial staff cleaned out the back of the stage and Christopher Barnett and I spent MLK day painting the back wall. Texas State Theater Ed kids hosted a Saturday acting workshop for our kids and then volunteered to our makeup. Venom Cosmetology from the High School came out to do hair for us. We spent one whole day with our kids at the school during christmas break working on the show.
I have come to love these kids. I have seen several of them blossom. There was one who started off "too cool" or timid, but embraced the role and worked and grew and it humbles me to see him on stage now, he has grown so much. I love sharing theater with them. We have treated them like professionals from the beginning and asked so much of them, but they have responded and have delivered. We have become a team together and they have learned to trust and support one another. They have grown in self confidence. They have learned to perform under pressure. I am so proud of them.
I have so enjoyed working this closely with Davis. It has brought us together at a time when we were drifting apart. We have a special bond now and a trust and a shared experience that is completely unique. I treasure it so much.
I have been tired. I have been irritated. I have been a lot overwhelmed. Some nights after rehearsal I did a lot of this:
But mostly, I found my passion again. I love theater. I love everything about it. I love sharing the process and coaching these kids. I love watching their faces after opening night and seeing them light up and glow. I love seeing them realize their hard work was worth it. I'm not tired. I'm not looking forward to it being over. I'm going to be so sad to have it be over. I have loved this experience so much. It makes moving to Colorado so much harder because I will have to re create this somewhere else. And I will recreate this somewhere else. Some of these kids would never have had this opportunity any other way. I want to continue to create opportunities for the arts for children wherever I go. It's not just fun, or extraneous, it is WORTH it- for them, for me, for the whole community.
This weekend we have two more performances. I am so looking forward to them. I invite you to come if you have not yet. We sold out our first two performances and I expect to sell the second two out as well. We will raise the money to do this again here in San Marcos. The Haygoods and our elementary school have agreed to continue this tradition for our kids. We did an assembly performance for the kids in the school this morning and they were so excited. I expect this program to grow. I will come home and see the performances. This has been a great thing and I am so, so, so lucky to have had this experience.

1 comment:

Rob L. said...

So proud — really wish we could've seen this!

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