We did the school play last night, and it was well-received and well-attended. The cast did a great job, and people have been saying complimentary things all day.
I've thought, throughout the course of this production, how easy this one has seemed. The cast have been very dedicated, showing up for rehearsals consistently, having all their lines memorized, bringing their props and costumes. I guess that says something about previous casts, but I have been just delighted by the enthusiasm these particular kids have had. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that all but one of the actors was totally new to the stage; maybe they put extra effort into it because this was their first show. Yikes, I hope they don't turn into slackers next year.
I definitely think that this play went much more smoothly than last year's because I DID EVERYTHING MYSELF. Last year, I tried to give more responsibility to some of my more seasoned drama kids, and that did not go well AT ALL. This year, I did the publicity, took charge of the set building (though I did not build things by myself, that would have been a disaster), and was kind of a dictator as a director. Every year, I learn a little more about how to be an effective director and apply those lessons to the next production. At this rate, I'll be a professional in approximately 78 years.
Another thing that contributed to the success of the show was that the actors were essentially playing themselves. Of course they had to memorize tons of lines, but the play was about ... high school drama students putting on a play. I think that was especially good for my beginning actors; I think it probably made it easier for them to get comfortable onstage. Also, they genuinely liked the script. Some of the lines were things they might actually have said in their real lives, and the script was HILARIOUS. We were all amazed at how closely the premise reflected actual events we've gone through this year, and from the first read-through, everyone really jumped on board to make this an awesome play.
In the past, it has been a struggle to get people to attend the play, and the audience usually consists of cast members' parents, some of my students, and my mom and dad (who are great sports, by the way, to keep coming to my stuff even though I am a grown up person). This year I tried to be positive: I was hoping for eighty people in the audience and mentally preparing for fifty. But we had to go get extra chairs five minutes before the play started, because WE HAD 124 PEOPLE!!! That is a record, for real, and I didn't even have to bribe anyone!
The cast was pretty nervous right before we started, but they relaxed as soon as they got the first laugh, and they jumped on that and just went for it from there. Some of them had been kind of reserved during rehearsals, but they dropped their inhibitions when they stepped in front of the audience, and the reaction was amazing. They'd pump their fists and bear-hug each other backstage, laughing and applauding along with the audience, and smiling so widely I could see their molars.
All of us were both relieved and disappointed when it was over, and we had to immediately start cleaning up and stacking chairs and pulling out the cafeteria tables. We were at the school until almost 10:00, and I was and am bone tired.
Lots of people talked to me about the play today, telling me how funny it was and how much they enjoyed it. It's so nice to hear it from objective observers (read: not my parents). A couple of students have expressed their intention to audition next year, and I really think the play helped generate interest in both theater classes and our drama club.
We had a meeting today, and we're all obviously really excited about how well everything went. We took in twice as much as we needed to make back the cost of the production, which is also a record. The kids are fired up and already talking about next year.
I'm so, so pleased, and relieved, and ... well, I'm just as fired up as the kids are! It's so rare that things go this well and that the reaction is so positive that I'm almost not sure what to do.
It reminds me of a scene in Willy Wonka, where Augustus Gloop gets sucked up into the giant tube and nobody knows what's going to happen. Wonka quotes Oscar Wilde: "The suspense is terrible; I hope it will last!"
That's kind of how I am right now... I have no idea what all this will lead to, but we've got some pretty good momentum; I hope it'll last!