A Safe Place to Take Risks: Our Audition Workshops (and Halloween Rehearsal)

This Saturday’s rehearsal was a testimony to how well our students and volunteers could focus.  We had a busy and highly silly night on Friday, with our Bowlathon, and we told the kids they could come in costume, as long as they could dance.

But it was an audition workshop day yesterday – preparation for our upcoming Aladdin auditions. There were things that the students wanted and needed to hear, to do, and to think about.


We divided the Seniors in half – one group with Jeff, one with Kerri. They talked about so much that was so valuable. I appreciate it so much when the directors take the time to talk to kids about their insecurities, and how their bodies and minds react under stress – going through the whys, and the hows, and then talk to them about how to circumvent the results.  I love how our kids are taught to trust themselves and work through their nerves, because everything that happens makes sense to them, and they can plan, and prepare for it.

My favourite part was when Jeff reminded the kids that ours is a safe place – “a safe place to take risks.”  And that’s what they’re doing, every week – putting themselves out there in front of their peers, stretching themselves, making themselves over into someone else.  Why aren’t they that scared when they eventually get onto stage?  Because they’ve worked it all through with their peer group, first, and been affirmed and supported, over and over again, until they trust themselves, and what they’re doing.


Every time together involves some drama games, and this day was no different.  In this focus game, students tried to concentrate through line delivery without cracking a smile, or cracking up.  Some of them crumbled like shortbread – but we had some seriously serious students that we just couldn’t crack!

Usually, it was almost more fun watching everyone around the “subject” fall apart laughing, to be truthful!


Matt NEVER surrendered.  Never.


Julian, with a slide into one pose, took out a row of at least six people who collapsed into helpless giggles.


Jeff tried to crack Matt – couldn’t be done.  Matt is the Iceman.


A giggly game of “Hah!” is always a good time for shedding that sense of the ridiculous to see what noise you can put out.  When everyone feels like a fool together, it’s not a bad thing!



Demonstrated here: Matt IS perfectly capable of laughing and smiling – when he isn’t trying to avoid it!



On Kerri’s side of the wall, she was walking them through the audition process again. They had monologues to work with, and everyone got constructive feedback, a chance to run it through, ideas to examine, and time to experiment.

Kerri gave some great ideas about circumventing some of the “isms,” – mannerisms that interfere with immersion in the character, with losing yourself for a few minutes.


They were paying such close attention.  The auditions matter so much to our students – they’re very invested in making sure that this cast is strong, and right.  Where they believe they suit a part, they’re thinking carefully about how best to present the qualities of the character they’re auditioning for.




I like, though, that no one stayed sitting too long. They need time to “think” physically, as well, and to relax and continue with their team building and always, always, getting to know and trust one another better.

Elijah, watching someone else crack as they can’t help but smiling or laughing – waiting his turn to see if he can hold out!
Matt, knowing full well that he will NOT crack. Because he’s in the zone.
Gabby looks like she’ll make it, but nope – crumbled as soon as she was “it.” She was preparing herself here, though!
I think this is a beautiful shot of Zoe.


Variations of telephone are usually fairly popular.


Qianyi played a good game without smiling – this is an entirely different moment, where she was laughing while not on the spot!
Ryan had an excellent strategy to try to break those around him into a smile. It was a rolling attack, full of surprise, taking people off guard.





Abby pauses a moment, trying to decipher what she just heard before passing it along…
Jeff, in circle with the kids – he’s so terrific in working with him! What a blessing he is to have with us this season!
Melanie loves to hide when my camera is out, but I caught her smiling!
Jenna’s one of the tough cookies – really, really difficult to break through to a smile when she’s concentrating!
If Meredith could compose herself before her opponent started to speak, she might make it, but usually she dissolved before they started speaking.
Yup – Ryan got Gabby, here!
I don’t remember who got Zoe, but it was a good one!
I love this picture of Kaylee. She has the most infectious laugh and smile.
When Kaylee decided to take on Jeff, I think they expected her to be able to do it! But nope! The two of them together destroyed the rest of the circle – everyone else was collapsed laughing.
Jeff’s response was solemn, straight-faced – and delivered in a deep, growly voice that undid Kaylee herself!
I think it was Elijah’s favourite moment….
Anne…..Anne in sheer delight….
Meredith, struggling and failing to keep it together….

By the afternoon, our Juniors were with us. They were also invited to arrive in costume, but we were pretty aware that it would be an uphill battle getting a lot of work out of them on Halloween.  They’re young – they’re super-excitable.

So, we worked hard to get them to cooperate through our songs for the upcoming play, and that part went quite well.  They’re singing better each week.

We gave them a bit of a snack break where they could turn loose, and we could snap some photos, and then we watched some Charlie Brown movies before they worked on a craft together. Next week, we’ll get back on track.  It’s all good – they’re bonding together.

Priya, always lovely!
The full Priya effect!
Ella, the pink-laced Lion.
Kendra, playing it subtle and unique with a green zebra, she claimed…
Hailey, our Junior vampire.
Glimpses of our other Juniors in their costumes – it was such a cute group on Saturday, and really, they were so excited but so good….

And then it was time for ME to get super-excited, because Drake and Heather had arrived, and for the first time, they were taking the Seniors through the Regency dances!  It was so wonderful to get started with that, and to see how happy and excited the Seniors were about it, themselves!


And because we love you, and we trust you – we’re sharing a tiny, tiny glimpse of our first moments with this choreography:

A tiny glimpse of new choreography!

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