One of the most important things you can do for your child(ren) to help them develop their creative spirit is to design a special performance space in your house for theatre games, original shows, and dress up. Kids love to create characters, make up dialogue, sing, dance, and invite family and friends to come see them “act out.” Why not help them get into the act by building them a mini-stage to help support their talents?
Before we get to the stage building details here are just a few of the educational benefits and skills children acquire by staging their own plays:
# They learn to spontaneously write dialogue
# Improvisational techniques
# How to listen to each other
# To work together as an ensemble
# How to tell a story–the bottom line is that’s what theatre is all about; telling great stories!
# Re-enact important and funny moments in their lives and by doing so,
# Create important, fun, poignant moments for the family at the same time.
When I was little my dad created a very simple space in the corner of our basement. It was a 4′ x 8′ box he built out of plywood. It was sturdy, yet portable, so we could move it around if we wanted to create a different sense of space. My mom simply hung a curtain from ceiling hooks on each side of the stage so we could “make an entrance”. We had a big stash of dress up costumes in a chest and we were set! Places everyone!
The cost of creating this theatre space for your child is minimal (under $50.00) and a simple DIY project. All you need, aside from time, is:
# 1 Sheet of ¾” plywood (plywood comes in 4′ x 8′ sheets)
# (4) 2″ x 6″ x 8′ for your base (on edge, for base perimeter, with one center bisecting board)
# Nails – 16 penny “sinkers” or 2″ screws
# Hammer or screw gun to attach base to top
# (2) large handles (screwed into each end of the stage platform makes for ease of movement)
# Left over paint for the stage (theatre stages are black, but, you can certainly use whatever you have on hand. Very Important: make sure you use flat paint! Higher gloss paint will stick to little shoes and that would be very bad.)
# Old curtains or sheets
# Planter hooks that screw into the ceiling
Tip: Bring the exact measurements of the stage platform to your local home improvement store and they will cut the plywood and base for you. BAM! Mom and Dad set designer, you are mere hours from your first opening night event.
The following items are definitely optional, and yet, very handy for the fully loaded domestic mini-theatre:
# A couple of director’s chairs for your budding director and their assistant
# A few music stands just in case a Reader’s Theatre production is on the boards
# A few simple hand-held instruments
# A piano for those spontaneous Christmas shows or perhaps the neighborhood premier of an original musical!
# And don’t forget a box of costumes–we all need fabulous costumes!
Remember; the arts are a very important part of a child’s life. Aside from teaching self-expression, the arts also help a child to develop a broad and empathetic world view. So, get out that hammer, build a little stage, and encourage those kids to write, direct, act, sing, and dance in their own neighborhood repertory theatre productions. Who knows, you may be nurturing the next Meryl Streep or Lawrence Olivier.
Break a leg kids!