I love, Love, LOVE the kids I work with in the theatre.
*This started out as a post called "Happy Together/Unhappy Together" about my travails with my adult theatre group, but I decided that writing about the theatrical journeys with my various and assorted youth theatre groups and their 'love of the game' would be a much more positive expenditure of my time.
I love my KidsPlayers. Oh, are they wonderful. They're dedicated and they work SO HARD. I hold them to a very high standard, behavior-wise, work ethic-wise, and performance-wise. I've been working with KidsPlay for nigh on eleven years--a lifetime in kid years.
Some of them come late to KidsPlay and I only get to work with them for a couple years before they move on to the high school. Some come early and I've gotten the joy of watching them grow up in the group.
In any case, once a KidsPlayer, always a KidsPlayer. I have undying loyalty to those kids for all they give and all they give up to be a part of KidsPlay.
Jacobs asked me once how I got the kids to hold fast to their off-book date. I told him, "I just do. We have a date for being off book for each act and I hold them to it."
"What if they don't?" he said.
I said, "Well, I expect a rough rehearsal on our first night off book, some, but not a lot of cueing... however, if I have somebody who's really slowing us down, I just say, 'Get your book. Go on, get it. You're slowing us down.' And THAT, to the kids, is devastating to them. I don't have to say anything more. They REALLY want to please me." And it's true...and almost scary...how hard they work for the small crumbs of praise I hand out. I'm way too stingy with my praise, but when it comes, they know it means something.
I have a wealth of wonderful stories with these kids: Katie, and Jesse, and Sam, and Blair, and Maddie, Payton, and Charlie...some REALLY wonderful kids have come through KidsPlay and left funny, poignant, heartwarming memories in my heart that I'll have forever.
I take joy in their happinesses and successes and I work very hard to make sure they reach their potential in the shows we do and that they recognize their own growth and talent. Oh, my KidsPlayers--this week are auditions for "A Tough Act to Follow" and I can hardly wait!
I love my Act-Teens. We 'test drove' this group over Christmas this year and I had the time of my life!! What a GREAT bunch of kids they are. I guess it's contradictory to say they make me feel young, because I certainly don't feel old (at 50), but when we all get going on our 'collective problem', I know I will ALWAYS be 16 in my heart. Their enthusiasm, their cleverness, their devotion to their craft--it overwhelms me. Rehearsals with them are exhausting, but I always come away exhilarated by their energy. There is more ahead for me and the Act-Teens and, chuckle--again--I can hardly wait.
The third group of kids isn't really mine at all--it belongs to Jacobs. The Greenfield-Central Drama kids are awesome. They welcomed me, as his assistant, early this fall and it's been a love affair ever since. They are the warmest, huggiest bunch of people I know. They are erudite, clever, and INTERESTING!!! And they've found their own place in my heart.
And those are my theatre kids. I love, love, love them. The time I spend with them--in theatre and NON-theatre time--is ALWAYS time well-spent, my work with them is my life's true calling.