My goodness, we all need to have more fun these days. The fun element kicks in as soon as you walk through the door. Learning becomes so much easier if it is enmeshed with fun. Here is an example: A young lad appears in front of us, his first ever audition.
Me (Andrew): Are you going to sing for us?
Lad: Nervous shake of the head.
Me: Are you going to read for us?
Lad: Another nervous shake of the head.
Me: Are you going to dance for us?
Lad: Yet another nervous shake of the head.
Me: Can you sing Happy Birthday?
Lad: A visibly brightened nod of the head.
Me: Come on then, let’s sing.
Lad: Great rendition of Happy Birthday. Big smiles of accomplishment. Relief.
Result: One happy lad, full of enthusiasm and willingness to come back.
Many times have youngsters started out with HBYT as timid, shy and reserved individuals. During the rehearsals and workshops these children realise that they can do so much more than they envisioned. They see others around them, some also nervous and shy, come out of their shells and start to exude more confidence. The positive environment then helps everyone raise their own self-beliefs.
Having a great structure toward a meaningful end goal (show) is essential to this process of developing feel-good. HBYT is never without a purpose. Little by little, over the preceding weeks to a show, the development builds gradually as more information is relayed. The reasons for each change and tweak are made abundantly clear, giving a solid grounding as to WHY.
When the reasons are known and understood, kids even start to have the confidence to adapt without being prompted, and in context. This is where confidence starts to take a foothold.
Oliver provided a prime case of this when Nipper proudly stated “Ere, I’ve got his watch!” to rapturous laughter from the audience. Great piece of improvisation…
It is wonderful to see such confidence being emitted.
There are an abundance of attention disorders out there right now. It is refreshing to hear comments coming back from happy parents and guardians that their child is, not only coping with the HBYT environment, but is actually thriving.
Inclusivity is one of our core values. Every child is given a meaningful part to play, within a purposeful structure that leads to a real goal. There is nothing spurious about why a child attends or their particular role.
It is becoming apparent that, by having a defined end goal, like a show, then there is reason behind everything we do during rehearsals and workshops. Sometimes a better method of delivering a particular scene will be explored. By having a real goal allows these tweaks to be accommodated by HBYT children quickly and successfully.
Inclusivity means that help surrounds everyone in making required changes. No one is left behind. Everyone moves onto the higher plane together.
Once a scene that will appear in a show has been refined and tweaked successfully, repetition takes over. Eventually muscle memory (the brain is also a muscle) converts this scene into the ‘known’ bracket. Once fully known and the brain can move aside for the next bit, and a level of autonomy kicks in.
Then something else amazing happens. Intent can be explored, and attached to that, expressions in delivery conveying that intent. This is a magical phase that brings scenes to life, and it opens up non-verbal lines of communication between actors, allowing each to bounce higher on the back of it.
Children are incredibly fast learners, absorbing the base content and scene positioning very quickly, leading the way to bring out variations in expression. This becomes immersive and a keystone into fully understanding a scene and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Often, children experience light bulb moments when experimenting with expression.
Acting and drama requires a lot of interaction. Be that knowing your lines, so that others may take their cue, or you taking your own cue from someone else’s line. Interactive cues could even be derived from certain actions that you do or see done, or a highly relevant musical line.
Knowing and understanding that other’s actions and words communicate more to the ongoing success of scenes within a show is paramount to the natural fluidity of each scene and, more importantly, the progression of a storyline through a show.
Every day kids are receiving cues, or giving them. “Who knows the answer to …?” might come from a teacher, or “Do you want to play?” when children are together.
HBYT receives many accolades about the quality of performances. Interaction and understanding your particular role to the best of your ability is the glue that holds a show together. Then of course the final piece of interaction is between our amazing cast, who have spent many hours perfecting their piece, and the audience.
It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment for all.
Virtually everyone that, when they first walk through the acting and drama door, is nervous, unsure and timid. Very quickly the positive and embracing HBYT environment transforms these trepidations into their positive counterpart. Nerves are replaced with excitement, unsureness becomes assuredness and shyness is pushed to the back burner.
At the inception of a new show, everyone starts at ground level and moves up together, steadily building momentum, week on week.
Sure, there are wobbles, where someone forgets lines or is having a bad week. It happens. But what is amazing to watch is the help and assistance that comes out of the woodwork, from team HBYT. We grow as a team. We help each other out when it’s not going so well. We are all in this together. No one will sit back and watch someone flounder. We’ve all been there…
And, as a team, we present our latest show. Inclusivity is the bedrock to cohesion.
After a show has been completed, the following of fellow cast members can last months, years, or even careers. There is always a bond.
The brain is tremendous! But, like other muscles, it needs regular exercise…
Learning something new, like a script, a song, harmonies, dance routine or stage positioning invigorates the brain. When coupled with the FUN element, the sponge-like brains within HBYT absorb and retain new material very quickly.
Repetition is one of the first ways to get your memory working on something, and our workshops, rehearsals & homework (YES, I did say HOMEWORK, as going through your material at home is an important tool to improving memory) vastly improve retention, allowing more progressive immersion into characterisation for any show.
There are many techniques we use to help youngsters absorb the material required for their upcoming show.
Moreover, these techniques can also be used for better memory of schoolwork. Once a proven method of helping with memory has been used, children have the knowledge and experience to apply these methods to other areas of their lives. It’s an all-round ‘win, win’.
Doing a show well involves being totally aware of everything else around you and the movements of others and prop placements/ removal from scenes as necessary.
By contrast, a lack of spatial awareness would mean everyone getting in everyone else’s way during scene changes, or supporting props not arriving where they need to be, or indeed leaving the stage at the correct time. In short, unprofessional MAYHEM!
HBYT is gaining a big reputation as the ‘must see’ show in town. This is not by accident. Professionalism is all encompassing. ALL elements of a particular scene within a show are thought out and practiced meticulously so that everyone plays their respective part in producing a seamlessly run show.
If anything requires remedial attention to ‘make it better’, everyone is empowered to speak up and provide their input or feedback. Obviously I, as Director, see and correct many things during the preproduction phase, but everyone, being aware of all things associated with their own performance, can voice improvements to the benefit of the whole thing.
At the end of a busy scene, there might be 20 to 30 actors leaving the stage, every one of them knowing the exact path to be trod to the wings, and what to pick up along the way.
It takes many people to form an effective team that can showcase a quality performance.
For example, a love scene needs the appropriate lighting to create the feeling of intimacy, warmth and affection at the correct places on stage, and a show with poorly performing microphones quickly torpedoes an otherwise great show into average, or even a disappointing disaster.
I am an advocate of live music at my shows, so there will also be a multi-piece band at my shows, with a musical director at their helm. All these other professions have a place in presenting a great show.
HBYT children all grow organically surrounded by these other professionals and know what part everyone else plays in helping them look the best on stage.
HBYT also work very closely with vocal coaches, choreographers, set builders and costumiers. HBYT children learn that it takes many talented people to deliver a great performance.
Here is one of the least thought about benefits. And yet, it is extremely powerful, more to the parents and guardians of youngsters at HBYT. Networking. No, not that social stuff! Meeting and greeting of real people and finding out how we can all help each other.
The HBYT team extends beyond the kids doing their next show. For example, HBYT have ties with some accomplished professionals: photographers, printers, sound engineers, lighting engineers, dance instructors, choreographers & musicians are the obvious links.
Dig a little deeper on a wider spectrum and there are plumbers, electricians, artists, legal experts, costume designers, coffee shop owners & estate agents, to name but a few. The list is quite comprehensive.
In short, if you wanted or needed anything, our network will, most likely, know someone that could help, either directly or indirectly.