Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to be a judge-High School theater

About five years ago I was asked or should I say I was dragged, I mean kicking and screaming to a local high school’s drama club production of, well I don’t remember what musical it was but I was not happy about having to watch it. Here is where I admit that while in high school I too was a theater geek. Being a part of the plays and musical every year was how I was able to survive 7th-senior year. In fact I am sure the ghost of my high school self is still roaming the halls stalking my crush/fellow performer but that is a different story. So there I am sitting in a sad looking high school auditorium waiting for the audience to quiet down, the lights to go off and the show to begin.
Years later and attending isn’t so bad. I have gotten use to it. Each school is different and each student has his or hers own strengths and weaknesses. A lot of the students, as I did, appear in the shows each new school year and you come to know their names and see their talent improve. 15 years ago a group of people who are artist or fans of The Arts got together and started a county wide version of our own little Tony awards to show off how important The Arts are to the schools. As a judge I have learned what to expect and have come up with my own way to determine who is the best of the year.
Watch as many of the productions /performances you can! Yes that means a lot of traveling and sometimes in bad weather but if you are truly committed to doing this job well then you should see what each student can do and brings to the show. Even if there are three (3) productions in one weekend and you don’t think you can or are too tired to sit through another one. These kids worked hard to put a play/musical together the least you can do is work just as hard to watch.
Pay attention to the entire production. I admit I can be bad at this one, especially if the students haven’t grabbed my interest right away. The acting is important but so are the costumes, set design and ensemble aka those student like I was who are in the background. Each school approaches their production differently and even if the sound system isn’t the best it’s still important to know what is going on.
Take it seriously. Even though this isn’t a paying job you should act like it is. Even if more then one school puts on the same show they will have their differences.
Most importantly after years of watching student put their hearts and souls into these productions I have learned to just have fun. Anything can happen in a live show and that is the best part of watching. So just grab a seat and as the lights turn down and the music (for musical) begins get ready and enjoy the show!

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