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

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