Summer "Ho-hum" or Summer Fun: Try "Play"ing Around
By KRISTEN STERNBERG | NIE Educational Consultant
For some young people, summer is a time to just relax and do nothing; for others it is a time to experiment, explore and experience new and different sights and sounds. If summer has become boring to you or if you are looking for something new to do, consider playing around by sampling some of the summer theater offerings in your community. You might also like to attend a performance, locate a drama class and try your hand at acting or simply learn more about the theater through reading and research.
Princess and fan
A princess stops by to chat with one of her fans after the performance of SMT's Children Show "Cinderella". (Photo: News-Journal/Bob Pesce)
Play-acting seems to come naturally to people, who have been acting out stories as far back as time can tell. Long before writing was developed, tribal people dramatized stories about events in their lives. As tales are repeated and passed down over the years, new generations learn about their history. Dramas based on real and imagined events followed some time later. Before long, dramatic plays as well as comedies were being written, rehearsed and performed—and theater was born!
Many people, when they read or hear the word "theater," think of live theater. Dance—from classical ballet to modern performance art—is live theater, as are musical and puppet theaters, for example. Magicians, storytellers, trapeze artists, pantomimes (mimes), opera singers and standup comedians are just a few kinds of theatrical performers. There's even a form of theater called "Children's Theater." Children's theater troupes (companies) put on plays especially for kids. Children's theater, or storybook theater, typically offers shows such as this production of "Pinocchio." Sometimes films and videos are considered theater, too.
As with any other art form, theater attracts all kinds of people. Some performers will find that their built-in talents come out more readily than other performers will, but both types will have to work hard to be successful. Stage fright is common among theater professionals and amateurs alike. To conquer their fear of being in front of a group, they may train themselves in public speaking. Acting classes can help to lay fears to rest; they can also help kids grow in important ways.
Be sure, also, to explore the newspaper activities and web links provided below!
Try these interesting activities using The Daytona Beach News-Journal
1. Skim The News-Journal for reviews about plays, musicals or other forms of theater that interest you. Select one review to read carefully. Use what you just read as a jumping-off point for more research. Choose a topic, such as a type of theater or a performer, a location, a period in history, etc. Use the newspaper, Internet and other resources to learn more about your topic. Share what you learned with friends or family. (Sunshine State Standards: TH.C.1.2.1, TH.C.1.2.2, TH.C.1.2.3)
Gary Cadwallader directs a group of students during one of SMT's summer theater camps. (Photo: News-Journal/Bob Pesce)
2. From miming to puppet shows, theater is about telling stories. Many story ideas are based on facts or actual events. Search The News-Journal for an article you think would make good theater. Memorize the sequence of events you wish to include. Develop a musical skit based on your interpretation of the story. Invite a neighbors or friends to watch your performance. (Sunshine State Standards: TH.B.1.2.1, TH.C.1.2.2)
3. Theater critics offer their opinions on plays, musicals, etc. Learn about being a critic by studying theater reviews found in the entertainment section of The News-Journal. Write your own review of a movie, play or TV show in the style of a critic you admire. Edit your work for spelling and grammar. Add a short letter explaining why you are submitting your review and send it to your school or community newspaper to see if it gets published. (Sunshine State Standards: TH.E.1.2.1, TH.E.1.2.2)
4. Many theatrical performances center upon a conflict that is resolved by the end of the story. In The News-Journal, find an example of a conflict that was not resolved. Brainstorm possible solutions to the conflict. Follow the newspaper story to see if it was resolved to your satisfaction. (Sunshine State Standards: SS.C.2.2.2, SS.C.2.2.5)
5. Learn what kinds of theater are available in your community. Check the Master Calendar or the Go Do section of a current News-Journal for information about upcoming events. If possible, arrange to attend a performance with family or friends. Paste your ticket stub into a scrapbook. (Sunshine State Standards: TH.B.1.2.1, TH.D.1.2.1, TH.D.1.2.2)
A copy of Florida's Sunshine State Standards can be found at intech2000.miamisci.org/.
Check out these links to learn more
This fabulous ThinkQuest web site offers theater games, an interesting history of the theater and many ideas for creative dramatics. You can also take a virtual tour of a performing arts center for children. tqjunior.thinkquest.org
Learn about the world of puppets! http://42explore.com/puppet.htm
At Education World online you can read story plots or complete plays, find games and learn about theater makeup or costumes, and much more. Be sure to check out the links provided. www.education-world.com
Take a look at this interesting, online storytelling site. You'll find a great guide to storytelling, some recommended reading on folklore, mythology and storytelling and many other great resources to keep you occupied for a long time. www.aaronshep.com
The Newspaper Association of America's web site contains links to many newspapers in the U.S. and around the world, which may contain additional news stories about this topic. To access the newspapers at the site, select a state. Click on the "Internationals" button to view choices from other countries.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal NIE Program, published July 22, 2002