It seemed like a good idea at the time. “Let’s do a show!” That was the main theme and plot of dozens of movies in the good old days.
So we met with the kids at South Park Recreation Center to put together a show to demonstrate the Darke County Character Council’s character of the month which was Justice.
In my dreams there were dozens of kids, 9 to 16, writing scripts, auditioning, rehearsing, making sets, creating costumes and scenery, and locating props.
In reality there about 15 kids, mostly age 5 through 9 who were long on energy and imagination, but very short on experience. I can’t complain though because the folks in charge, Mary Obringer, Director at the Rec Center, Chip Caldwell, Greenville’s Director of Recreation, a cameraman, and I, Director of Chaos.) were also long on imagination and patience, but equally short on experience.
We talked about justice, the character for July. When the kids seemed to understand the concept we broke into two groups to get their ideas on how to “show” justice on Greenville Public Access Television, GPAT, Channel 3, on cable TV.
Both groups settled on justice under the law, so we had two scripts, one about vandalism, the other about theft. Both scripts called for the police to haul the “criminals” away. We agreed we needed a real police car for that scene, and Police Chief Tom Doyle graciously agreed to cooperate with us.
We allowed the kids several days to learn their parts and then we gathered to rehearse. We also presented them with another script which explains what Character means by Justice. It had some pretty big words for youngsters, so we decided to let them read those lines.
The rehearsal was a disaster. But we were able to choose various sites around South Park to use as locations. I was confident. After all, a bad rehearsal means a good performance. At least it did in all those old movies.
I lost sight of one slight difference between the old movies and us. The movies had all kinds of professionals working behind the scenes. The Character Kids of our South Park Rec Center just had us, and we were so low on the experience scale we made amateurs look like professionals.
Rain was forecast for the day we filmed, but that didn’t stop us. We forged ahead. The first scene was by a tree on the corner. It seemed okay. Then the police car arrived, so we filmed the scene where two boys acting as police officers jumped the vandals with the words, “Freeze! You’re under arrest. We’re secret agents!”
Next we did another arrest scene where two boys try to sell a scooter to an old lady. The old lady actress wasn’t there, so guess who got the part. I still think making me the old lady was stereotyping.
When we got to the script where they were allowed to read their parts, we were grateful we weren’t “on live.” We forgot 5 year-olds can’t read very well. On youngster was supposed to say, “I will practice by keeping my conscience clean.” He would say it perfectly when we practiced, but overytime the camera was on he said, “I will practice justice by keeping my knees clean.”
There were other bloopers, but you can find them for yourself when the Character Kids bring their show about justice to our Channel 3. It is July, and that is the show which is almost ready to show—as soon as we figure out how to take the sounds of chirping birds and vrooming cars so you can hear the kids’ speaking.
The next one has to be better. Now, at least, the directors have some experience.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on July 3, 2002.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.