A Six-step Blue Print for a Foundation
by john daniels, jr.

A theatre of imagination is a theatre of make-believe.  It is a theatre that challenges the creativity of everyone, including the audience.  A theatre of imagination is a theatre of inclusion not exclusion.  The only prerequisite is desire and or curiosity.

The theatre of imagination is hands on.  The teaching and guiding is done through production, problem solving, and results.  Rehearsal is preparation, and performance is the classroom.

transparent gif to hold open cell Step One:  The creation of a safe atmosphere
The first production will be a collection of ideas expressed by the actors during the rehearsal period.

This production will be loose and comic in nature. 

The elements of theatre introduced will be:

  • movement
  • music
  • free association
  • basic audience relationship
The production will be performed for a small audience filled with contemporaries and positive acquaintances.
Step Two:  The beginning of trust
The second production will be based on discussions with the actors about their lives and situations.  Basic "theatre games" and exercises will be used to give structure to the production.

This production will be more serious in nature, but still comic.

The elements of theatre introduced:

  • realistic improvisation (focused realism)
  • theatre as a form of self-discovery
  • theatre as a form of self-expression
  • theatre as a forum for the reflection of ideas
The production will be performed for a larger controlled positive audience.  A discussion with the audience after the performance is important.
Step Three:  Creating an ensemble
The third production will be a play for children.  The actors will, for the first time, work with a script; but will not be restricted by it.  A loose script allowing individual creativity will be used.  This production will be bold and flashy. 

More "theatre games" and exercises will be introduced.

The elements of theatre introduced:

  • costumes
  • make up
  • gesture as language
  • audience interaction
  • working with a script
  • basic touring
  • giving to the community
This show is intended to be played to at least two audiences:  one of children and one of the controlled group.
Step Four:  Desire creates discipline
The fourth production is a workshop of a scene from a major script.  Focused "theatre games" and exercises will be used. Voice training begins.

This production will be more focused. 
The elements of theatre introduced:

  • voice
  • props
  • rehearsal discipline
  • the script as a blue print for a play
  • basic script analysis
  • compression, and focus
A non-safe audience should be used.
Steps Five and Six:  Stepping into the circle (commitment)
The last production in this sequence is a full scale production of a one-act play.  "Games" and exercises dealing with concentration and energy are used.

The elements of theatre introduced:

  • set
  • lights
  • sound
  • house
  • stage management
  • the text of silence
  • the voice as gesture
  • the show is number one
  • the actor is prepared
  • the actor adapts
  • the active communication triangle
There should be much fanfare with this production.
A Note on Inclusion
It is not necessary for an actor to have started at step one.  Working along side other actors who have more experiences brings new actors up to speed faster.  The rule of the theatre, "no one fails," keeps the more experienced actors from becoming cliquish and ostracizing new members.  There is a process of natural selection at work however.  Sometimes actors just take themselves out of the mix no matter if they have been a member of the ensemble from day one or only come to one workshop. 

The Theory in Practice
EASY Theatre (Engela and john) followed john's guide for Creating a Theatre of Imagination for Youth.   It took us 18 months to complete the project.  Those kids who worked with us had incredible opportunities.  No one was required to do everything, but those who were interested and available were kept gloriously busy.

The results and details can be found on the "Youth Education and Performance (a success story)" page.

Program directors:  Engela Edwards and john daniels, jr.

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