Drama Clubs are a terrific outlet for creative teens. Depending on how you run them, they can also involve a lot of people for little to no money.
There are a couple ways to run a drama club. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be a “trained” actor, director, etc. to start a drama club. Neither of these options are particularly hard to do. They just need some preparation and work.
#1. The Traditional Drama Club
This is pretty straight forward. It is also the best option if you want to use the Drama Club for fundraising options. It is the easiest of the two options, but works best if you have a group of teens who are not involved in sports or other extracurriculars year round.
Basically this involves getting a script, rehearsing it, and putting it on. A student can write the script, you can search for free scripts online, or you can buy scripts from places like hitplays.com . The last option gives you quality scripts, for a reasonable fee, and let’s you read samples before you buy. If you want to put on a full-blown production your budget will start increase quickly, with building sets, finding or making costumes, and gathering props. I recommend staged readings (acting out the play with script in hand.) If well-rehearsed the scripts will only be there for reference, making for a smooth production. It’s hard to work for a while on a play and have an actor freeze and forget their lines, not to mention potentially embarrassing for the actor.
#2. The DIY Improv Drama Club
This requires a lot more work from you and the teens involved in the drama club. However, it is the less expensive option and, in my opinion, more satisfying for those involved.
I found out quickly that our teens are too busy with school activities to do scripted plays. Also, our drama club is only once a week, it’s open to anyone, so we could have an entirely different group of people from week to week.
So we began using improv skills and detailed outlines to build plays from the ground up. We spend most of the time “writing”/rehearsing the play, and use poster board for props. If someone doesn’t show up, it is easy enough for someone to fill in, because the lines aren’t set in stone.
To be a little clearer, we start with an idea. For instance, our first production was The Complete Harry Potter Abridged, where we attempted to perform all the Harry Potter books in 30 minutes. So we outlined what was important from every book. We then rehearsed scene by scene (book by book), making sure we hit those important points in each book.
This does require the group building trust. It also requires learning the rules of improv (http://improvencyclopedia.org/references//Rules_of_Improv.html). There are different philosophies, David Alger’s rules are great, but really all you need are the 5 basic improv rules. Once these are understood, play some games (http://improvencyclopedia.org/games/index.html). I use freeze, ding, and adjective scene a lot, because it helps the patrons look at a scene in multiple ways.
This method has worked extremely well for us. The teens seem to have a blast being an integral part of the process. Everyone gets a say in what is best for the production, and the more productions you do as a group, the better they become.