Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gobo, Disco, and Blue Light Specials But No Fiddles

Today, at our Stage Play Acting Classes, I forgot to bring Fiddles. Our young actors are used to having a selection of stretchy snakes, squishy balls, and little quiet toys to play with while being in the audience role. Turned out we did not need Fiddles anyway because we had a visiting Stage Lighting Designer, Kenneth Pogin who put on a light show for the kids that rivaled Forth of July Fireworks, and was more fun for some kids because he did not make loud sounds. The actors pretended to go to sleep to blue lighting, wake up to red lighting and danced to flashing lights. Gobo is not only fun to say, Gobo lights that look like anything from bubbles to prison bars were a huge hit with our actors. They Ooood and Awwwd to every new Gobo Light effect. Usually, however, we have Fiddles, a weighted lap blanket and the option of taking a walk available at all times. This sensory option keeps a lot of children sitting happily when they should be sitting. I really need to remember to bring those things for the next class since we don't get a Lights Guy next week.

One thing that was interesting at this class was that the kids were careful about the equipment. I think this was true for at least three reasons. The first reason is that we followed the routine as always. Even though there was some new stuff on stage, we followed the visual schedule and the actors knew where they were supposed to be. Secondly, we addressed their curiosity pretty quickly by demonstrating the lighting equipment during theater vocabulary section of the class (third activity) so the kids had a chance to see what the lights were for after a few minutes of seeing them. Thirdly, we tried to help them avoid tripping over the cables and over the lights by giving the actors a specific place to be away from the lights. For example, we did our acting scenes from center stage and avoided downstage where the lights were. We also had the kids come to the side, where there were no cables, and give a teacher a high five before going onstage in an effort to keep them from walking between the lights or tripping on the cables.

It was also interesting that none of the actors voiced concerns about the brightness of the lights. The squinted and blinked but did not say a word. We did let one child come in early and get a sample of the lights moving and flashing before class started so he would know it was coming and decide if he liked it or not. He gave it a big thumbs up. Most the kids experienced stage lights for the first time without preparation.

*Note about Fiddles and other sensory tools:

Here is a great (as in reasonably priced and cute) source for weighted clothes, lap toys, and even fiddles. Therapeutic Threads

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