"Take Risks With Courage & Earnestness": The Student Audition Journey
By Amy Hand, Head of Middle School
“Ogres are like onions.” So goes the classic quote from Shrek, which was hilariously misunderstood by Donkey (“They stink?” “They rot in the sun?”) before Shrek clarified, “Onions have layers.”
So, too, have Hillbrook’s members of the Class of 2020, who recently auditioned for roles for the 8th grade production Shrek the Musical. This year, our 8th graders have already shown us their academic layers, their athletic layers, the layers upon layers of their social worlds, their singing layers, and their leadership layers, among many, many others. Now, they’re diving into the process of showing us their musical theater layers. Some will be in charge of the sets, creating the fantastic world in which the show will be set; some will dazzle us with their solos in leading roles; some will make the production come to life by singing and dancing in the chorus. All will participate in the goofy and heartwarming production.
A key part of getting the musical started was having every 8th grade student audition for a role. Belting out a song in front of your teachers and fellow students is no small feat! The class of 2020 responded to Mark Silver’s charge at our first Flag of the year to “Take Risks” with courage and earnestness. Some left the process with exactly the role they wanted. Others, no doubt, were disappointed with either their performance in the process or with the part they were assigned. Though it can be hard to see children upset by what they perceive as failure, know that disappointment is a healthy emotion for adolescents to experience; navigating smaller, safer setbacks helps children develop the emotional toolbox for coping with the larger-scale setbacks they’ll eventually encounter. The article “Parenting: Disappointment is Good” from Psychology Today offers the following suggestions on how parents can productively respond to their children’s disappointment:
Allow your children to feel disappointment about the setback;
Don't "spin" the situation to make your children feel better;
Offer a healthy perspective on disappointment;
Support your children, but don't give them a consolation prize;
Help your children find ways to surmount the causes of their disappointment;
Tell your children that they will survive these disappointments and will achieve their goals if they keep trying hard;
Finally, make sure they know you love them regardless of their successes or failures.
The auditions and the early rehearsals that are underway are providing your kids with a rich learning experience - not only in musical theater, of course, but also in cooperation, in group dynamics, and in leadership. We are proud of the grade for answering the question, “What do you do with a chance?” with full-throated song, and we can’t wait to sing along with them this spring!