Concerned Glenfield Play Production Parents
Dear Parents of Glenfield Play Production Students, We are a group of concerned Glenfield Play Production (PP) parents who believe the PP experience can and should be improved for our children. While we appreciate the hard work of the Glenfield Play Production staff, we believe the broad changes recommended below would much improve the educational experience of the many talented students involved in PP. These changes have been widely discussed among the Concerned Parents group and are put forth here in relatively simple terms so that flexible, forward adjustment is possible. We ask those parents who generally agree with the recommendations here to sign the petition. Once signatures have been gathered, a group of concerned parents will meet with PP staff and Mr. Miller to jointly explain and begin to adopt some or all of the changes outlined. This will be a cooperative process with compromise on both sides, but one that will end in change and improvement to PP. The format below states the main issues of the Concerned Parents group based on the Q&A section posted by PP staff on the school-affilaited website. PP staff states clearly their feelings on the issues, after which the Concerned Parents group offers its view and flexible solutions. None of the solutions offered here are set in stone; the concerned parents simply want to see some change in these areas in order to provide the best PP experience for the most students. Q: What is the rationale behind Glenfield producing only one musical/production each year? A: Though other schools in Montclair offer more than one opportunity for a major show, the schedule at Glenfield makes it impractical to prepare more than one show. Play Production only rehearses for one period per day (after students arrive from classes throughout the building, this works out to slightly more than 35 minutes of rehearsal time). Preparing shows with large ensemble numbers (designed to ensure maximum participation from the cast) takes a long time, given our time constraint. Learning a dance number that might take 2-3 'after-school' rehearsals at the HS (3-6pm) takes us closer to 2 weeks at Glenfield. Another major consideration at Glenfield is the other performances occurring- there are two music concerts and two dance shows per year-- with so many performances each year, we cannot fit another play production into the schedule. Concerned Parents view and solutions: In order to greatly broaden the dramatic arts experience of the many Glenfield student actors, many parents would support and assist in one additional production per year; this may be a series of one act plays, Showcase or some similar format. Practice for this production may occur after or before school (as is the case with the Jazz Band and countless sports activities). At least one more production per year is particularly critical as students prepare for Montclair High School and its drama/arts programs which are many and varied. This will require extra effort on everyone’s part, but will be well worth it. Most middle schools produce more than one show per year, and as a school and community particularly dedicated to the Arts, we can and must find a way to make this happen. A number of parents have expressed their willingness to assist in a pilot, very limited run Showcase/One Act for this Spring; such an effort would serve as a guide for similar productions in future years. Q: Are there opportunities for understudies or consideration for double casting or triple casting? Is this an effective way to involve more student actors in meaningful roles in the production? A: We do not double/triple cast, or use understudies at Glenfield. The production team has found in the past that this practice increases animosity between cast members and unnecessarily heightens the already extremely high competition level for participation in Play Production. The use of understudies requires twice as much rehearsal time-- it is difficult to prepare one student to play a role in the time allotted, we cannot prepare two students. In addition, each student has a “track” – if we had understudies filling in for missing students, their “track” would be missing instead-- which is detrimental as well. We have found that there are enough scenes/songs in a musical that we can rehearse sections of the show that do not include a lead character who is absent on a particular day. Concerned Parents view and solutions: Most Middle School productions find a way to involve many more students in key roles, and this often involves double casting. While logistically more difficult, once the students settle into this routine, it typically functions smoothly. The practice also has proven to diminish animosity among students as more roles are available. Also, because PP students are still very young and finding their “voice” within the performance space, “tracks” should be avoided and a more inclusive approach brought to the casting process. We would like to see double casting implemented on an experimental basis beginning next year, 2012-2013. Such a pilot process will allow PP staff and parents to evaluate the double casting process and, if necessary, correct course for future years.. Casting of lead roles: Concerned Parents also recommend that lead roles be cast broadly among a pool of very talented children. Specific guidelines should exist that discourage the lead casting of the same students over consecutive years. This may require that only 8th graders receive leads or some similar firm guidelines.