Staging Questions for Microbytes
A NEWUB! That is what you are creating when turning the story into a libretto… It is the process of thinking through the staging and present tense communication of the opera story the class created.
What is A NEWUB?
It is the answer to the following questions . . . .
What is the Action?
What are the Needs?
What is the Emotion?
What are the Wants?
What are the Underlying Beliefs?
How to communicate these to the audience . . . .
First and foremost we show ACTION, we sing SONGSand show the action!!!
Evaluate each motive from the different character perspective. All their choices are colored by the information provided when answering these questions.
The action is indicated in the story. It is easy to write the action information in the libretto within parenthesis. Once this is recorded it becomes a reference for the performers when staging. The basic choices have been made. NOW, they must decide on the further details of HOW it will actually be performed!
Staging then is carried forward by asking the performers to show what they are doing and how they choose that should be accomplished through the NEWUB choices!
If you utilize these five questions you will have a smooth time finding out how to communicate the story in a live presentation both in the libretto and the staging creation processes.
Each step brings more clarification and detail! KEY to the success is staying TRUE to previous decisions.
Story is bone structure,
Libretto is the body –muscles and flesh,
Staging is full of final details—clothing choices, hair color, eye color and habits.
It doesn’t take a lot to communicate. A mere suggestion prompts the audience to use their imagination. So, making clever and simple songs, recitative and action choices create a magnificent opera!
So as with all parts of the process give it a K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Sweeties!
Break Staging into several sessions!
· First session—teach the stage magic elements and tools of staging!
o Use the manual for great tools for teaching about the stage, how to show the story to the audience and use techniques such as “Cheating Forward”. Get up and try the techniques.
o Play the character walking game
o Play the Planes of the Stage game
· Second Session—have them use their new skills to stage the first five minutes of the opera….
o Use the NEWUB questions for the peripheral characters first and get them settled with their ideas. While you work with them have the character group, characters or character that has the first song practice singing it with the recording without their script as you work with the others.
o Then work with the others asking for their NEWUBS.
o It is best to have all the performers on stage at once….older classes may make entrances and exits but this should be very minimal and never is the first choice. Exploration on how to be on stage FIRST is key!!
o Each performer should find their beginning spot in relation to their place of origin…for their At Rise moment (The beginning of the opera when the curtain metaphorically or actually rises) Example:
· Pirates are on an Island Upstage Center (the back drop has a nice Island painted on it)
· The ocean animals are in the ocean Upstage Right
· The Beach Bums are on Upstage Left (on the beach front)
These characters are all doing beginning action to the overture.
Once the overture ends and the characters that sing the beginning song begin the other characters fade and minimize their actions in almost slow motion. The characters singing use BIG action and move closer to the audience Downstage Center or Center.
The Planes of the stage are essential for the actors to know and understand. It helps them communicate with one another and you! The Kinders can even do this!
Third session and further—
- Once students find a fun movement ask if these movements could be uniform and create dances with them when there is opportunity for a dance during a song or an action bridge. They may have requested a dance. These are good times for the students to create a step or two and teach it to everyone else!
- Help them remember to use the tool of Levels, Shapes, and Pathways. Time and Space are also key to creating great movement for characters as well as dance.
- Always have the students think about their goals for the run through. “We want to remember our words.” “Figure out how to do the chase scene” or “Do the whole opera without stopping” could be their wishes. Reflect back to them with good questions and observations what happened. Help them discover their BEST choices. Never give them negative feedback. Be positive and encouraging. Have the distracting student come and play “Director” and watch for things they could improve as a class and give those suggestions to the class at the end.
Have fun STAGING!!!
Opera by Children Director, Pamela L. Gee