A snippet from the lives of young performers

By Roxanne Daniels

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Three little faces fixed with nervous smiles looked up at me as I walked into the foyer of the DSG Junior School. Clumping together in a little office, they summed up the whirlwind days and high emotion that they’d been through as members of the upcoming school production, Petra Pan. Soon apprehensive quietness melted into much laughter and talking over one another as the three DSG grade sevens, Mikayla Eksteen, Kelby Barker and Yonelani Tini, bubbled over with excitement about their play, which is to be staged on 30 and 31 March. .

“It’s about staying young however old you are and still keeping your dreams,” explained Yonelani. “Yes, and Captain Looks makes a Barbie army and wants to stay young and beautiful on the outside forever, but the Feisty Five escape and they work to save each other and the Barbie army from Captain Looks,” added Mikayla, keen to give us a trailer. 

Auditions

I think it’s the best play so far, every grade seven has a line

These three young performers have been hard at work since the beginning of the year, and the process began, where any show begins: auditions. It seems though that after being given some lines to say for the teacher choosing the parts, the most nervewracking part was the finding out of who got which part. The girls set the scene for me. They were in class, doing work – pretty normal. Someone walked past the classroom and told the girls that the names and parts had just been put on the board. Their legs began to jiggle like jelly, they soon lost all concentration and began to itch to get to break time to look at the cast list. The bell rang and there was little thought of food or play time while stampeding to find out the news. “There were some sad faces, but they got over it,” explained Mikayla. Kelby, Mikayla and Yonelani were among those with very happy faces, having been given three of the main roles of Tinkertell, Red Riding Hood and Captain Looks respectively. Even though the girls saw the sad faces, they are all happy about this year’s production being much more inclusive. “I think it’s the best play so far, every grade seven has a line,” they agreed

Lines, lines, lines and more lines

After the auditioning process, the time for learning lines, songs and moves during rehearsals began. All clubs at DSG meet on a Wednesday and this includes the drama club where the main characters worked through the script, starting off with reading it together and at other times the school corridors were filled with a chorus of voices as the other performers practiced songs and poems during the drama and music periods. Both Kelby and Mikayla had long lines to learn and with relief and exasperation they explained how they learned all their words. “I just said them over and over again in front of the mirror backstage,” Mikayla said. Kelby, who had long paragraphs of lines to learn, would read them in bed before sleeping. They were so intent on achieving the goal that had been given to them that Mikayla even found herself quietly acting her Red Riding Hood part while on the sports field.

The fun part

We couldn’t be judged by each other, because those were our characters

It was during the rehearsals that the girls enjoyed the funniest moments. “When Miss Geel acted as one of the Barbies to show them how to do it, we laughed a lot,” giggled Kelby, “She just overdid everything so they could see how to do it.” Yonelani remembers laughing when she mixed up her lines or said things like ‘bepore’ instead of before. It seems though that the most fun they had together was backstage. “There was a trolley backstage that we played in and sometimes we would sit on the table and jump off as soon as a teacher came in,” Kelby explained, while headmistress Tracy Laubscher smiled as she  listened in. All three girls agreed that throughout the rehearsal period there was great opportunity to get to know different people. “You just see a different part of people and while we all said our lines, we couldn’t be judged by each other, because those were our characters.” Kelby explained. Mikayla added that “and if you looked terrible because of your character, that was okay!” Perhaps the play’s moral is truly playing out in the girls lives – it’s not all about looks.

The show begins

It is a few days before the show officially opens, but the first taste of performing for an audience came as I visited. It was time for lights, camera and action during the first dress rehearsal, with visiting schools coming to watch. Kelby, Mikayla and Yonelani sat as still as possible, trying not to flinch away while being tickled with the paintbrushes and make-up brushes being used on their faces. Dressed, hair and make up done, all that was left to do was wait nervously for the show to start. For these three girls, it may be that nerves ended up helping. They each bubbled with energy while on stage, remembering each line and working well to sustain their characters throughout.

Kelby was able to play her flute for her Tinkertell signature, Yonelani strutted her stuff for an hour while wearing high heels and Mikayla surprised all with the interesting twist to the Red Riding Hood story. They were accompanied by other little actresses that danced energetically and sang well known songs like Jail House Rock, Rock Around the Clock Tonight, Frozen’s Let it Go, The Sound of Music’s Climb Every Mountain and a couple of ABBA songs too. With humourous reference to load shedding and other little antics, attention was sustained throughout the play, making the moral of the story come across clearly. Kelby, Yonelani and Mikayla exhibited big grins at the end as they finished up the very first official performance.

Tired little accomplished girls make their way to their bedrooms with small remnants of red and greed make up. They smile at the success of the morning’s show and begin to doze off while thinking of the lines they’ll be saying again for Monday’s show…

The play is showing at DSG’s Lillian Strong Hall. Tickets cost R20 and show times are: Monday 30 March at 11.00 and 19.00 and Tuesday 31 March at 11.00.

 

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