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Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Two Proudest Moments as Director of "The Jungle Book"

Some of the Cast of "The Jungle Book" at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft, ME
Greetings all, and welcome to Theater is a Sport, my little place on the internet to talk about all things theater.  My name is Bobby Keniston, and you can find me here pretty much five days a week (Monday-Friday).  Why?  Well, because I love theater.

Since early February, I have been honored to be the director of "The Jungle Book" at the Center Theatre, right here in my home town of Dover-Foxcroft.  Every spring, the theater does an all-youth cast show, and, happily, I applied for the job to direct and was hired.

It's been a lot of work.  The cast is comprised of kids between the ages of 3 and 17.  Obviously, that's quite a big range!  It's been a challenge for me to find different ways to communicate with different cast members, and making myself understood by everyone.  There have been times when the process has tested my patience (I"m proud to say that I passed), and, of course, many other moments where it has given me great joy.  

I want to tell you about my two proudest moments as the director of "The Jungle Book".  And, the reason they are my two proudest moments, is because I had nothing to do with them.

Of course, as a director, I try to make sure the kids are prepared for anything.  But that's not always possible....

Last Sunday, during our matinee performance, all was going well.  In fact, it was my favorite of the three performances to date.  We were near the end of Act One, everything was smooth sailing, and I was watching the show from the back of the auditorium (in the shadows), and really enjoying it.  And then, the power went out.  

Black stage, during a big group scene with almost every character present on stage.  

To be honest, I expected within seconds for them to be worried, maybe even panicked, which I would have understood.  I expected some shouting out, some "What do we do?", or maybe a mass attempt to clear the stage, which, in the pitch black, could have been dangerous.  

But they stayed right there on stage.  I walked down to the foot of the stage, as did the stage manager, and whispered that they were doing a great job, and to just stay in place, and, when the lights came back on, to just keep going.

Fortunately, the lights came back on relatively quickly.  And the moment they did, BAM!, as if there were NO INTERRUPTION AT ALL, they kept going.  They picked it right back up with the same energy and focus as if they and the audience had not just been in the dark for a few minutes.  They didn't miss a beat.  

My second proudest moment was yesterday, when we spent the day performing for school children. The kids had FOUR (!) performances of the show yesterday for surrounding area schools.  Talk about a long day!  

Midway through the third play, something went wrong.  A character who was supposed to be onstage, didn't come on stage.  I figured they had just missed their entrance, but would run on.  The cast members onstage started improvising and ad-libbing, keeping the scene going,  I headed backstage to find there had been a bit of a costume mishap.  And all this while, the kids onstage kept going and going and going.  Without looking panicked, without breaking character, without freaking out.  They didn't give up.  They kept acting and improvising their hearts out, as if nothing in the least bit was out of place.  I'm telling you, I have never seen adults work to cover a scene so well!  It blew my mind.  

"Where did they learn how to do that?," I asked myself.

And then, when the mishap was sorted out, the actor went onstage, proud and confident as though nothing had been wrong.  Amazing. 

The thing is, I can't take the credit for it.  

And that is why it makes me very proud.

For those in the Dover-Foxcroft area, the final 3 performances of "The Jungle Book" are Friday, April 17th at 7 PM, and Saturday April 18th at 2 PM and 7 PM, at the Center Theatre.  You really should come check it out!

2 comments:

  1. Their director has obviously been building their confidence and teaching good stagecraft. Well done everyone.

    ReplyDelete