Photos by Christine Keith
Watch for information for our Fall Show
Contact Sam to join the fun!
Each Main Stage show takes about 16 weeks to produce.
In order to be fully authentic, our rehearsal process follows a creative drama pedagogy taking our actors from individual skill work to group performance. We teach sequential theatre arts lessons that respond to and are adapted to the variety of learning styles our actors bring. We work with a dedicated professional production team including a musical director and costume, set, lighting and sound designers. In order to honor our commitment to accessibility we strive to work with a 3 to 1 actor/coach ratio. We also use sign language interpreters and an audio describer as needed for our actors. At every part of the rehearsal process, community members are invited to observe our rehearsal process and have their questions about this artistic approach answered.
The first few weeks explore improvisation, team building, and simple movement and voice exercises. Using coaches (individuals who assist their actors remember their lines and to navigate their blocking), Sam tells a brief, lighthearted version of the upcoming show. Based on the theme of the play, thought provoking question are asked (i.e. for Little Mermaid, she asked what was their dream...answers ranged from being married, to being on Broadway, to being President, and one even wanted to be a rocket scientist). Work starts on learning the music and choreography for production numbers. Auditions are held
(not to determine their participation in the show but to determine their unique role). When parts are cast tears may be shed (this is after all authentic theatre). But no one is denied a place on the stage.
Then, the hard works begins. With the support of coaches, actors learn lines, music, choreography and blocking. Full cast rehearsals are held once a week. Two to three additional rehearsal times each week focus on lead actors, smaller groups,and or special skill work that needs to be taught. Closer to show time, full cast rehearsals take place more often. Each rehearsal ends with reflection/evaluation time when actors celebrate their successes.
Our greatest strength is in responding to the unique needs of the community we serve. Lines are modified when necessary to make them easier to articulate. Movements are changed to honor physical challenges. The goal is for every actor to have at least one line—sometimes it takes a while for that line to come out, and sometimes it never comes, but we stress that every actor is essential to the success of the production. Essential to our success is the ratio of
actors to coaches; they are truly dedicated talented partners in our work.
And then it’s Show Time, well almost. Five days before the show, we move into the theatre at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Our first rehearsal there is often an “awe-filled” disaster. Actors pay more attention to the lights, curtains, empty seats, and dressing rooms, than their lines, music and movement.
The afternoon of our opening night, we offer a special preview performance for sheltered workshops, day programs, and interested others.
And then the reward. The stage is set, everyone gathers on stage, we join hands and Sam asks us to visualize the play about to take place. We make a wish, send it along through a squeeze of our joined hands and we’re ready. The curtain goes up, and for the next ninety minutes, they are the stars. Their hard
work and dreams are actualized. They inspire an audience that has come specially to celebrate them.
Of course none of this could take place without the support of our 75+ volunteers, who sew costumes, paint sets, serve cast meals, apply makeup…and support this amazing undertaking.