Copyright 2000
by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.
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Pupil Owned Written Enacted Recognized PLAYS

Job Assignments

After the auditions, the work really begins. All members of the production need to be given a tentative schedule along with a contract to be signed by the student and a parent. It must be stressed that they are committing to this project. Everyone depends on each part of the team.


In "Creating Original Opera" it was stressed that the entire script should be kid originated. Great idea but an incredible amount of work. Yes, the students wrote it, but it had my fingerprints all over it. When we finally (and I do mean finally!) completed our original opera entitled "Once Upon a Happy Client", we were all happy clients.

An easier alternative was to take an already written story and convert it into a play. In "Deep in the Bush Where People Rarely Ever Go", students converted three African folk tales into a play. Groups of two or three students converted each of the three stories into scripts. By using an existing story, students could be given one page of story and asked to convert it in to three pages of dialogue for a script. It was much less painful and completed in less than a month.

I met with the authors of each story in separate groups after the scripts were put on the computer. I took complete liberty to make adjustments where I felt necessary (sometimes they were REALLY necessary!) Then, when we sat down together around the computer, I had all authors give their suggestions to finalize the script. Not every word was student written but it all had their input and ideas.


I gave complete control of this over to the girls. Boys are willing to wear make-up in a play as long as it is very minimal.


Don't be shy about asking for help. I asked for help from fellow faculty members. Many teachers are willing to help with a play as long as limited involvement is requested. This task only required a couple of sessions after school from someone in the science department.

Students created footlights. They used light bulbs attached to wooden planks. I found three or four bulbs per plank worked best. The bulbs should, of course, only point towards the stage. The back could be covered with half of a metal coffee can (painted black) or with wooden boxes. Then, the planks were connected to a control panel with extension cords.

After the construction of the light fixtures, students decided where to best place the lights and what the appropriate moments for lighting should be. This was completely in their hands.


The set was again designed by students. After their ideas were created, students were in charge of gathering props and creating any necessary background settings. It helps to be on good terms with the art department when paper or paints are needed.

Program and Posters

Students should take responsibility for the advertising of the event as well as the creation of the program design. One hint for programs, if students receive a program, the papers create more noise than they are worth. It is more practical for only the parents to receive a program on an evening performance.


In the opera, student costume designers raided the high school drama department for clothing or asked the actors to wear specific colors. It was meant to be low budget.

For the African folk tales, students wore black but were to design an authentic type of African headgear with paper mache. It was incredibly fun, easy, and successful. Library resources were researched for the appropriate patterns, shapes, and colors.

Once the pattern was envisioned, we experimented with paper maché to turn it in to a reality.