We’re a Trip, by Tim Reynolds

     Even though a swan glides across the water, beneath the surface, it’s legs are pumping.  A lot of hard work and effort goes into each field trip that we host at Savannah Children’s Theatre because we want to ensure that our students have the best experience possible.  But it’s not just dancing and silly hat wearing, even though that’s important.  Here’s a quick peek into one of our field trips, from start to finish.

my office

My Office

     Schools usually book far in advance, scheduling their field trips months ahead of time to ensure that the musical they pick aligns perfectly with subjects they are teaching.  When we arrive for the day, we already know what show we’re doing, what props and costumes need to be pulled from storage, what roles need to be cast, how many scripts to grab…and this is with the first cup of coffee.  Roles and songs are divided up and assigned ahead of time so that each instructor has the chance to learn the material, devise their own choreography, and understand how it relates to the school curriculum.
we do what we can

Ms. Laura, Ms. Cheri, Ms. Lauren

     Ms Cheri, our Field Trip Coordinator, does a great job keeping everything on track!  We make sure that everything is set just the way each school requests, and we always accommodate any special needs that individual students may have.  While we try to cast the kids in as many speaking roles as we can, wordier parts are still performed by us, the *ahem* professionals.
     Of course, no musical is complete without costuming!  Hats are quite important to us, as they help our young actors to visualize the characters they are portraying.  We have a wide variety for nearly any occasion, including:
TimSillyHat– cowboy hats
– berets
– baseball caps
– compost hats
– disco hats
– skunk hats
– flower petal hats
– Jupiter hats…what’s that?  You’ll have to come to find out.
     When the kids arrive, it’s go time!  School groups range in size from 15 students to 125 students, depending on the day.  The children are quickly divided among the SCT Team so we can work with them in smaller groups.  Together, they learn to dance and to sing as loudly as they can about American History, Earth Science, Shakespeare or other subjects.  Sometimes there are so many kids, the classes are spread out all over the theatre; some are on the proscenium stage…
mainstage
others are in the smaller black box theatre…
blackbox
or on the dance floor…
dance floor
…really anywhere there is room!  When it’s almost show time, we gather in the proscenium theatre to rehearse one last time before the audience arrives.
     Once the teachers and chaperons assemble (parents, too!), we cue the maestro (that’s Ms. Renee) and the show begins!  We’re singing!  We’re dancing!  We’re learning!  We’re having a blast being silly!  After a performance well-done, the kids take a bow to their adoring fans.  Photos are taken, cheers are given!  Alas, all good things must come to an end.  Back to the buses they go, and we clean the theatre to get ready for our after-school classes.

conked out

     Or we pass out…  whichever comes first!
     (Only 3 of our 9 field trip staff are pictured here…because only 3 were present the day I took these photos! Our full staff includes Cheri Hester, Laura Keena, Lauren Baxter, Gloria Rigsbee, Evan Goetz, Cason Richter, Mary Caitlin McMahon, Justin Reynolds, and of course, Yours Truly.)
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Field Trips, Yay! by Timothy Reynolds

     The mission of Savannah Children’s Theatre is to inspire, educate and entertain!  One of the best ways that we do this is with our Let’s Put on a Play Field Trip program.  There, students from Chatham County and beyond get the opportunity to rehearse and perform an educational musical, all in just two hours!  At SCT, we encourage all students to participate and do something that perhaps they have never done before. They sing, dance and perform scenes, and by the end of the morning, they have a real theatrical experience putting on a show that is uniquely their own.

Inline image 2

If you can see this red curtain, say “ooooh!”

     Students arrive in the morning and are divided into smaller groups for rehearsal.  They work with an SCT Field Trip Instructor who teaches the basics of performing in a musical.  They play silly characters, sing at the top of their lungs and dance their hearts out, all while learning the curriculum chosen by their teacher.  Everyone gets a chance to perform on stage, complete with lights, props, and silly hats.  Working together, the students perform the show for their adoring fans; their teachers, parents, and chaperons!  
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Some hats are sillier than others!

     The plays that are performed are educational in nature and touch on a wide array of subjects, from U.S. History to Biology, Nutrition and Fitness to Grammar and Phonics.  Think of it like School House Rock performed by kids, for kids. We feel that its important not just to reach out to the students in terms of theatre, but also in terms of their current curriculum.  One of our favorites is Pirates from Grammar Island, where pirates go searching for grammar while battling the dreaded Grammar Pirate Curse!  (Side effects include subject/verb disagreement, and a flair for the dramatic.)  By presenting schoolwork in a fun, approachable manner, kids are able to learn while having a  great time!  Students seem to really enjoy our multi-sensory approach to learning, and with any luck, they’ll remember what they’ve been taught through rhythm and rhyme.   

 

   Our interactive field trips are appropriate for Pre-K to 8th grades, and shows can be tailored to suit different age groups and reading levels.  In the 2013-2014 School Year, we conducted Field Trips for over 11,000 students from 19 different school districts.  We would love to have you along so we can share our love of musical theatre with you and your students. 

     If you’re interested in booking a field trip, you can click here,  or you can contact Jenn at jenn@savannahchildrenstheatre.org.  Come play with us!  The field trip may only last two hours, but the memories will last a lifetime. 

Read, Set, FIELD TRIP! by Carmel Grace Cowart

100 excited children
5 talented instructors
2 fun-filled hours
1 hilarious script
Too many silly hats to count
=
1 Unforgettable Theatre Experience
(No one ever said actors were good at math.)
Cheri Hester, Chris Blair, Carmel Cowart, Laura Keena...just a few members of our amazing field trip team!
Cheri Hester, Chris Blair, Carmel Cowart, Laura Keena…
…just a few members of our amazing field trip team!

A Day in the Life of an SCT Field Trip Instructor

8:30am – The SCT field trip staff arrive at the theatre to prepare for the day’s show.  We gather props and costumes, mend broken bunny ears or create new bug hats if need be, review notes and choreography, all whilst sipping our coffee.  Each of our 27 curriculum-based musicals has at least 8 songs and dances to be learned, smart and funny dialogue to memorize (“Sedimentary, my dear, Watson”), plus separate props and costume pieces to prepare for each number.  I’m not sure if anyone has done an official count, but I’d guess that we have over 5,000 hats and props in our field trip storage area!

10:00am – We activate Field Trip Mode, a unique mode that requires the utmost creativity, the ability to think on your feet at lightning speed, the flexibility to go with the flow of a kindergartner or the reticence of a 6th grader, a big smile, and lots of heart!  The schoolchildren and teachers are buzzing with excitement as they enter the building.  The students are divided into smaller groups, and each group follows an instructor to a designated rehearsal space. For many students, especially those from rural areas or Title I schools, this is the first live theatre experience they will ever have!  The kids have quite a lot to say upon entering the building.

“Whoa, this place is HUGE!”

“When does the MOVIE start?”

“Are we gonna be on TV?”

“Wait…I think I’ve BEEN HERE before!”

10:15am – This is when the students get to flex their creative muscles!   Each group gets a crash-course in theatre; what it means to be in a play, to rehearse, and to perform in front of a life audience.  They learn their musical numbers and speaking roles, and even get to experience a brief audition.  They work on character development, choreography, lyrics, and try on some of the silliest hats you’ve ever seen in order to “get into character!”

Rehearsing Aesop's fable "The Ant and the Dove" with some sweet bird hats.

Rehearsing Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Dove” with some sweet bird hats.

     While we rehearse, the teachers get to take a break in our lobby, or head to Starbucks.  (They say their favorite part of our field trip is watching the children perform, but I’m guessing this mid-morning coffee break is a close-second.)  We want the performance to be a surprise!

10:45am – After rehearsal, all student groups meet on SCT’s proscenium stage for a final dress rehearsal.  This gives the students a chance to release any last-minute jitters, and helps them feel more comfortable onstage before their audience (teachers and chaperons) arrives.  This dress run also enables them to understand the fluidity of the entire show, like which group performs first or last, what hat to wear when, and so on.

11:15am – SHOWTIME! This is the moment when the live theatre magic happens!  It’s amazing to watch what children can do with only an hour of prep, especially when it’s the first time that many of them have ever been on a stage!  They sing, they dance, they laugh, they smile, they learn, they teach, they entertain, they inspire!  Whether they’re acting like pirates, princesses, pilgrims, or (in one show) volcanoes with a gas problem,  I am continually tickled by how much FUN these kids have on our stage, and I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it.

The Lion does a victory dance!

The Lion does a victory dance!

12:00pm – The new, young performers all take a well-deserved bow, smiling ear to ear.  Many proud parents and teachers clap and cheer for them, encouraging their brave performances.  We collect all our props and costumes, and we tell them what a wonderful job they did performing.  Now the field trip is over and the students have to go back to school…boo.  As they are exiting, I often get to hear some of the most joyful remarks while they relish in what they just experienced, rather, what they just created.  Here are some of the students’ words from this week:

“This was the BEST day of my WHOLE life!”

“Remember, JAZZ HANDS!”

“That was AWESOME!”

“I wanna perform ALL day, EVERY day!”

“I LOVE this place!”

     Hopefully, these kids will go home with songs to sing and stories to tell.  One child at each field trip will win a free ticket to an upcoming production; right now each class gets to participate in a coloring contest for TARZAN!  We certainly hope that many more of them will be bitten by the acting bug and visit us again in the future.

     If you’ve never experienced a SCT field trip before, you should remedy that ASAP!  If you’re a teacher and would like to bring your grade level, send us an email, or call (912) 238-9015.  If you’re a parent, tell your child’s teacher about SCT , and please encourage them to contact us!  More field trip info can be found on our website. Come and put on a play with us! 

Field trippingly,

Carmel Grace Cowart