Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Theatre For/With/As Young People


by Michael McElroy (aka Principal Grimm)

The young middle and high school-ers who make up 16/18ths of the Fairy Tale High School cast are getting a pretty unique opportunity for young actors. The have the privilege of getting a first-hand glimpse into the world of professional theatre. Most young actors are brought along slowly. They begin their acting journeys with school productions, parent volunteers and watered-down scripts. But these 16 talented kids are getting an opportunity most others do not. They are working at a professional theatre company, on a stage built, lit and designed by professionals, where they are performing a play written by an emerging playwright and theatre professional. Not too shabby.
When I was a kid, slowly realizing that my loud and vibrant personality could be honed into a talent that could carry me far in life, I would have loved an opportunity like Fairy Tale High School. Instead I would just perform in whatever play my school decided to put on. I had a blast, for sure, but I didn't have the faintest idea what it meant to be a theatre professional. When the time came to go to college and figure out my life's direction, I still didn't have a full understanding of where this career could take me. How great would it have been to get some professional experience before even having to make such big life decisions?
These students are getting just that. Whether it is learning the theatre lingo (it is called "rehearsal", not "play practice", as director Tom Quinn loves to remind them,) or just getting experience with all of the other common procedures of professional theatre (getting off book, call time, costume fittings, production photos, etc.)
The Montgomery Theatre has given these young people a tremendous gift. The gift of a first experience. And it has been an absolute privilege to play my role in these new beginnings.

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