In Search of Theater for Teen Actors…just my thoughts

Posted by in Community, Storytelling, Theater | 0 comments

Okay, so where does director of faith-based theater go to research and find good material for H.S. students? After piling through sketch and play sites and a few other resources, I am considering the following: We need writers for high school aged actors (sketches and plays)… ones that will commit to writing the stories that matter to them! I need to write. Today, high school people are more sophisticated and wiser (worldly-wise) than ever before. My experience, after being back in the classroom is this: They won’t do corny.  They won’t do obvious. They won’t do things that seem immature-childish scenarios, story-lines, sketches or plays.  “Not-ever-going-to-happen in my lifetime…” as one teen informed me. They will do funny, if it’s truly funny. They will do serious work if they find it addressing a story that is true enough to be lived out by them or other teens around them. They don’t mind being the messengers.  They will work. They will show up and rehearse.  They’ll open up their own stories for the telling. I find it more than interesting that young adult fiction books (series)—read and enjoyed by teens—have become successful movies over the last several years: “The Fault In Our Stars” (John Green), “Divergent”, “The Hunger Games”. I personally have been moved by these stories and movies. The characters are brave and courageous—heroes and heroines—in their living and in their dying. Also, interesting to note, is the futuristic reality of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant (Veronica Roth) and the Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins). As a parent of a teen, a teacher and a theater arts director of teens, I am asking the question—“What is speaking so loudly to their hearts, minds and souls in these works?”… “How can I enter this dialogue and could I be a part of helping them tell the stories that matter to them?” The best way to do this, if teens are in your life, is to ask questions and create an open dialogue. Ask them at a time when they are open. “When’s that?!  The door is always closed,” you might be thinking. I find some of the best time is in the car on the way home or to places, after dinner or a dinner-out time, the last moments of the day before they retire. Let them talk… tell their story. This is not your time to philosophize-criticize-moralize…interrupt. Simply listen and open your ears. Ask open-ended questions. And make sure you are ready for some questions to come back your way. If you want to write for them, you must get inside their stories and find out what is hard, challenging, crazy, hopeful, joyous, important, etc., to them. With their permission, hurry to your laptop, journal, yellow pad and write as many notes as you can remember… And then when you get to the place of writing, ask them to be a part of the critique team.  They love that—critiquing us! Call or write me about your thoughts on writing for teens…...

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Gift Three… Connection and Community

Posted by in Community, Connection, Gifts of Story, Storytelling | 0 comments

Now, this wonderful gift of connection and community could apply to many things in our lives. We are a culture that is losing its front porch, actively lending a helping hand to a neighbor, holding the door open, the social graces of waiting your turn, “please” and “thank you,” and the list goes on and on. Small as these may be, they are a connection to our greater community of human kind. We assume we’re connected in every way possible, yet we can drag around a gnawing sense of disconnect that we are unaware of most of the time, until… we sit down with a few people for a meal at a table, are an invited guest to a wedding ceremony, attend a funeral, watch a movie in a theater that gets the audience engaged, attend a concert where we applaud and vocalize, … you go ahead and name one. I just quickly listed some occasions where we find ourselves in a group connecting to people in community and this connection had nothing to do with our hand-held devices or laptops. As users of the internet and hand-held devices (and count me in), we are connected and yet isolated at the same time. Nothing will ever replace the real thing of being with other human beings.  And it is the yearning of our souls to hear the words “you matter in this world”. As humans, we have wired into us a chemistry to connect. (see Dr. Henry S. Lodge’s book, “Younger Next Year”) We need the human connection to keep us healthy and vital. It has the capacity to extend life just like diet and exercise. So how can storytelling produce such a thing?  How does it create connection and community? As I have said in earlier blogs, storytelling is an invitation to relationship—an invitation the storyteller extends to their listener or listeners of “Let me tell you a story.” From there, all parties involved have agreed to participate in connecting through a story in a community, in a setting. That setting could be the living room, the side of a bed, a backyard, a church, a classroom, a concert hall or a conference. When it’s a whole bunch of people on the rug, so to speak, storytelling breaks down our apprehensive posture and caution with strangers. In storytelling events, I like to break down the fourth wall of theater and invite my audience to engage in conversation.  Whether it’s a sigh, a laugh, tears, applauding, an answer back to me, singing with me—all of these responses back to me connect me to the listeners and the listeners to one another.  For that short hour or two we are a community, sharing the same stories and reactions.  I love to plant an intermission in the middle of a story event so that my audience can talk to one another.  I know they enjoy this, because it’s a little bit of work to get them seated once again. This gift...

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