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What’s your best piece of advice for drama teachers producing their first show?

Whether you’re new to teaching or new to teaching drama, producing your very first show can evoke equal parts excitement, nervousness, and terror. You know you want it to be great for your students and your audience but beyond that, how do you keep it from stressing you out too much?

We went straight to the source to get the inside scoop from those who’ve been there: drama teachers.

We asked: What’s your best piece of advice for drama teachers producing their first show?

It takes a village

Don’t try to do it all yourself. (Glenn K.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate. Find out who is good at doing what and get them involved, especially parents! It takes a village to put on a show and have fun! (Tatiana B.)

Ask for help. (Kathy S.)

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. (Jack S.)

Enlist help from parents. Support from them is invaluable. (Jacque A.)

Build a parent network for your crews — costumes, props, tickets, etc. They will be invaluable to you. Relax and enjoy the process. Listen to the kids — they often have great ideas. Keep your vision in front of you at all times. (Deborah Z.)

Use trusted friends and teachers as your adult staff. As much as parents want to help, they can be more trouble than they are worth. Encourage them to just sit back and enjoy the show. (Thia T.)

Have a strong creative team who support your vision. (Heidy P.)

Start small and include as many people in your community (local/school/area) as you can. Many hands make light work and there is no better feeling than when everyone feels a part of the show. It becomes “our” show instead of “the show.” (DWME)

Delegate as many tasks as possible. (Tamara S.)

 Don’t be afraid to ask for help!! We’ve all been there! (Carolyn G.)

Find (or make) a tribe! Chances are you know someone who knows how to use a sewing machine or has a bunch of weird clothes. That’s your costume person! Have a friend who’s really detail oriented and a self starter? That’s your production manager. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get creative! (Jeremy T.)

Use your resources! Ask for help! (Paige M.)

 Ask other teachers to borrow their stuff — then thank them in the program! (Maureen K.)

Involve your students

When in doubt, let the kids lead. And don’t be afraid to delegate! (Cynthia R.)

Get the kids involved backstage. Give them responsibilities with props, transitions, costume changes, etc. They love it and take it so seriously and it gives you more capacity to manage the things you cannot delegate. (Shelley M.)

Let the kids teach YOU something. The best scenes can be spontaneous from their imaginations. (Kelly R.)

You are doing this for the kids first! Not only for the audience and good publicity. (Petra B.)

It doesn’t have to be perfect

It will not be perfect, but it will be perfectly what it needs to be for that time in your career/your students’ lives. Simplify when you need to simplify, delegate to students as much as you can, and remember it’s meant to be an educational experience for all involved! (Tabitha C.)

No matter what happens and what you put on that stage, the parents will love it and your kids will have learned something. (Marisa B.)

You’ve got this

Let the educator in you lead the way. Then it’s always a smash hit! (Christa V.)

Know It will be ok. Repeat: it will be ok. Because guess what? It will be ok. (Annie B.)

You will never feel like you have enough time. EVER. So don’t think you feel this way because you are putting on your first show. (Lisenka B.)

Don’t forget to Have FUN. (Pieter V.)

Keep it simple

Don’t try to go too big. Pick a less tech/minimalist kind of show so as not to overwhelm yourself or the kids. Then as you get more confident, go for something bigger. Lots of great minimal one-acts out there. Delegate to kids, and put them first. Have fun! (Melanie F.)

Keep it simple and achievable and most importantly, FUN. (Amanda P.)

Keep your designs simple. The human imagination can fill in a lot. (Josh M.)

Choose one thing the audience notices and do it well. Next time do two things well. Eventually it will all be amazing. (Kristin B.)

Start small! (Julie S.)

Do a vignette play. (Rebecca A.)

Focus on acting over other things if you have to choose, and if you choose a show that highlights the kids you have, your job is so much easier. (Heather T.)

Self-care counts

Breathe! Don’t work every day — you get weekends! (Makaela H.)

Eat. Drink water. Get sleep. The students will emulate your habits and now is a good time for them to learn healthy habits to keep from burning out. (Patrick S.)

Keep your energy high and your anxiety low. The show will happen … eventually (Arbaayah T.)

Work with what you’ve got, give what you can, and know when it’s time to say, “This will be fine the way it is now.” (That’s usually a day or two before opening.) (Chachi C.)

Stay organized

Stay organized, take help when it’s offered, and remember that it’s more about the process than the outcome. (Alison B.)

Knock out as much as you can in the beginning, more than you normally would, so you have room for the fun embellishments and room for missed rehearsals. Blocking, ordering, designing everything saves a TON of stress at the end. (Kaitlyn L.)

Read the script 5–10 times before you start. (Mary Beth E.)

Two or three helpers, delegate, have a very well-organized backstage area/prop table with each prop or group of props sectioned off with tape (AND clear rules on if it’s not your prop DO NOT TOUCH IT OR MOVE IT), run sheets, backstage copies of scripts, designated person to help with quick changes, etc. And have fun!!! (Adra C-L.)

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