The SCT Impact – Stanley

Since 2004, SCT has provided performing arts education and opportunities to
Savannah’s youth.  Now in our 13th season, we are beginning to see the long-term results of growing up in an environment that aims to inspire, educate, and entertain; something we like to call the SCT Impact. This series will include words from SCT Alumni who feel that their time spent within our walls has had a positive, tangible influence on their lives, both on and off the stage.

stanley-simons-headshot   There is no one more fitting to launch this series than the amazing Stanley Simons.  Stanley first came to us under the impression that he was auditioning for a Shakespearian tragedy, only to find out that he had the wrong date and tried out for another show instead.  Too polite to leave in the middle of something, Stanley stayed, and found himself fitted for a bright pink pig-suit, complete with curly tail. (We’ve scoured the world for pictures, but he seems to have done a great job of destroying all evidence of this first amazing costume.) Over the years, Stanley became an invaluable member of SCT, performing on stage countless times, and working constantly behind the scenes. Now a small business owner, Stanley agreed to share a bit of his story, in hopes that it will encourage others to make bold choices!

      “I remember walking into the doors of SCT. I was about to audition for Romeo and Juliet (excited and nervous).  I was wrong.  The audition was actually for Charlotte’s Web.  Nevertheless, I put on my big boy pants, auditioned, and got a part.  However, it wasn’t just another play for me.

     This play, unlike all the others, was at a community theatre.  It was a real show.  A show where you met a new director for the first time;  that director puts a book in your hand filled with beautiful words written by someone else;  that director wants you to make a bold choice at a particular time to explain why you decided to use those beautiful words; that director wants you to explain why your body had to move to a place underneath the lights where it was marked weeks ago.

     Eleven years later a bold choice continues to move me.  Past community theatre.  Past student films.  Past short films.  Past state lines to New York City.  Past the front doors at a performing arts conservatory.  Past the president of that conservatory as I reach for my degree.  Past the long lines to the next audition.  All a bold choice.  The greatest thing I learned at SCT is that choices can take you anywhere.  Bold choices will take you where you’re suppose to be.

stanely-simons-at-work

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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