When I decided to do this Acting Companies project, I did so with the idea that the students would run their own shows. This means that they would choose the scene, decide on casting, bring props/costumes, set a timeline (within the given window) to learn lines, etc. Probably the hardest thing for me was to leave them alone and trust that they would take over the work without dropping the ball.
As you can imagine, some of our rehearsal times were pretty crowded and chaotic. For the dress rehearsal, I took the kids outside on one of our warmer spring days, so they all could practice at the same time, at full volume. It was chilly, but it was definitely preferable to trying to cram five groups into a classroom or to try to monitor groups in more than one location. (If you have an auditorium or other dedicated performance space that is open, I recommend grabbing it for this project!)
One piece of support that I gave students was a daily "check in," which was basically a set of reminders about the timeline and what had to be accomplished.
An example might be:
I created an Animoto of photos of our outside rehearsals. You can tell by the pictures that it was a little chaotic. Thank goodness for an administrative team that believes in "what's best for kids," rather than what is quietest or most contained :)
As students were working, I visited each team multiple times to praise, encourage or (if they were still blanking on their lines) nag! I was very pleased and impressed by how prepared the students were.
Our only challenge was that it was pretty cold and my students are already dressing like summer is here. (It's a middle school thing; I know you know what I am talking about.)
The "real" performances are tomorrow, so after we came in from dress rehearsal, I asked students to make notes in their agendas about what needed to be brought or done for their performances.
The kids are really excited!