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The Youth Theatre Director's Handbook: Book #1 - Selecting a Script
by Maureen McIntyre & Lane Riosley

ISBN #1-60513-200-4
JAC #2008-0015a

 

Children are rushed into maturity through media, advertising and entertainment. Mass media entertainment is often surface excitement without substance. If you are expecting to find similar offerings among theatrical plays for youth, you will find some, certainly, but for the most part, you will be pleasantly surprised. Now, more than ever, there are excellent scripts for youth. A genuinely good script must reach out to the audience and discover the truths that make us human.

The Youth Theatre Director’s Handbook is designed to provide a director with information and tools to assist in producing and maintaining a single play, a festival or season of plays in a school, community or professional venue or even a long-term theatrical venture with and for the young. You will, at times, be informed and guided by the irrepressible producer and director of theatre by and for youth, Dot Baldwin. Dot is a fictional character who, nevertheless, provides real-life examples from youth theatre. Imagine her as a cheery-faced woman, prone to gesturing boldly and often. She never walks; she charges through life. Her wildly curly and tangled hair is always stuck full of pencils. Her clothes are a brightly colored afterthought. She cooks meals rarely but bakes great cookies. She sings loudly even on the street and understands and adores young people and their talent. She is a consummate theatre professional and educator. Her methods, stories and advice are based on a combination of twenty-five years of actual successes and mistakes (provided by the authors and by their colleagues and friends) directing and producing theatre for youth. It is hard-won information that is offered to you with the passionate wish that your theatrical quest with young actors will be filled with many victories and wondrous discoveries along the way. This volume is taken from the complete version of The Youth Theatre Director’s Handbook, also available thru JAC Publishing, and targets one area of production. Please see the other books in this series that touch on other areas of production, as well!

 

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NOTE: Would you like to focus your vision onto a particular category covered in this full text?  Consider the topic-specific booklets from this text, also independently available thru JAC:

 

Book #1: Selecting a Script Book #2: Creating a Production Team Book #3: Support & Funding
Book #4: Design & Technical Challenges Book #5: Using Music & Songs Book #6: Publicity & PR
Book #7: Youth Theatre Safety Book #8: Auditions & Callbacks Book #9: First Meetings & Rehearsals
Book #10: Getting the Best from Young Actors Book #11: Dress Rehearsal & Performances  

 

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Selecting a Script

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Author Biographies

Maureen McIntyre has been the director of the Children's Theatre Festival in Huntsville, Texas, for twenty-five years and was recognized as an Honored Artist by the city. She is a Professor of Theatre, teaching acting and directing, at Sam Houston State University in the Department of Theatre and Dance. She is an accredited Critic Judge for the University Interscholastic League One Act Play Contest for high schools and has been named Outstanding Theatre Educator, Colleges and Universities by the Texas Educational Theatre Association. Professor McIntyre lives in Huntsville with her husband, Buddy Aber.

Lane Riosley is a writer living and working in Houston, Texas. She is the 1991 winner of the Roger L. Stevens Award in Playwrighting from the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts' Fund for New American Plays. Lane also has written a screenplay for KUHT-TV/PBS television series CENTERSTAGE, as featured in the 1993 American Film Institute Festival in Los Angeles, and she served as a speaker at Theatrefest '93, the 43rd annual convention of the Texas Educational Theatre Association. Lane has 15 plays in publication (Pioneer Drama Service and Encore Performance Publishing). She is the author of the Houston Museum of Natural Science Burke Baker Planetarium program and Lucky Hightops and the Cosmic Cat Patrol, a six part science threatre series. Lane’s plays have been produced by schools and theatres nationwide including The Taradiddle Players, The Actor's Company of Burbank, The Little Top Theatre Company, The West Coast Ensemble, The Texas Renaissance Festival, EarlyStages of Houston, Stages Repertory Theatre, The Merry Go Round Theatre and the Asolo Theatre. She is an alumnus of the Sam Houston State University Department of Theatre and Dance.

From the authors...

"America has developed a great many fine academic, professional and amateur programs for theatre for young performers. As a result, thousands of children and teenagers have grown in performance skills, self-esteem, knowledge of American and international cultures, and have learned important truths about living honorably with passion and courage to face the challenges of the future.

However, to some degree, there is still a misconception, even a snobbery in our profession which assumes the directing and production of youth theatre is an easier and less important artistic endeavor than the production of adult theatre. This misconception is based primarily in the assumption that poor or mediocre work will be overlooked by both the actors and their audience. It assumes that really fine work is unnecessary for the young. This attitude is totally without merit and is insulting to both current and future audiences. In his book, Theatre for Children – Kid Stuff or Theatre, Orlin Corey, a well known advocate for youth theatre, wrote, “The only distinction I would make between theatre for children and theatre for adults is that it (theatre for children) must be better. Not all adult theatre will engage the attention of children, but theatre good enough to earn the attention of children will entertain an adult.”

Youth theatre must be truthful, and while it may address despair, it must also send forth a message of hope for the survival and ultimate nobility of humankind. Youth theatre must be exciting and often boldly theatrical with high performance and visual standards. Youth theatre must be based in adaptations of great literary works or in original works with vision, literary merit, wisdom and the possibility of joyous response and the discovery of ideas. Your primary philosophy as a maker of theatre for and with youth must therefore be this: Nothing is too good for our youth! It is a privilege to work with the young and only your best efforts will be acceptable.

Finally, reject theatre which is merely “cute.” Choose quality instead. The young will respond with howls and shrieks of delight and amazing understanding."

 
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