Backstage Child Wrangling

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Meilin-theaterr-for hobbit postMeilin is back with a post about her experience helping backstage with the Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of The Hobbit.

Some children were briskly walking around the room. Others were sitting quietly playing board games at the rectangular tables. A parent, my friend, and I were all waiting with them for our cue to bring the children down to the backstage of the theater.

I have never thought about working on or off stage in a theater. I can tell you now, that I am not the performer type. I would not be able to get up on stage, stay in character, and perform the lines. When my friend and I were walking to class one Thursday, she began talking about how she has to “child wrangle” on Friday for the show The Hobbit, as well as how she needs another person to “wrangle” with. I was sort of scared when I heard those words. I had no clue what “child wrangling” had to do with the production. So, I asked her.

Her answer consisted of “We basically have to control the children actors and actresses and bring them down when it is their turn to act on stage.” To be honest, at first it sounded like a lot of work and pressure; but I wanted a challenge and a new experience! So I told her that I would go with her to wrangle those children!

Friday came and I was kind of nervous. I went into the back of the theater, which is amazing what they have back there! There were so many rooms and tons of costumes and props. We were introduced to the children and off to backstage we went. The directors gave us their numbers and told us that they would call us when it was time to bring them down. My friend had wrangled before so she led the way upstairs where we had to stay in.

We, the wranglers, were responsible to make sure all of the children were dressed in their costumes and control them when they were getting out of hand. I was able to play with the children, talk to them, and listen to music with them.They were all very interesting and had good reasons as to why they are in the theater performing. The children and I connected pretty quickly and we got to bond over their acting experiences.

Ring ring-a-ling, ring ring-a-ling! My friend quickly picked up the call, hung up, and raised her voice so all the children would hear her. Like if they were trained, everyone got in a straight line ready to perform. We went downstairs and the wranglers helped the children put on their spider costume. Everything went by so fast, and the children were helping me help them get ready. It was a very eventful process!

While the children were on stage, the wranglers and the director were getting ready to rapidly take off the costumes and hang them up in an orderly manner. That was a rush and a stressful moment for me. There was pressure on me to not drop any of the costume on the floor. But I didn’t. Everything went just fine. After their last time going onstage, we went back upstairs to fix up the room and made sure they were changed back into their normal clothes. After that, they were released to their parents!

I had a blast and I got to experience the backstage world of a theater and with children. This made it a million times better. I am definitely doing this again. Since I probably won’t ever go up on stage, I get an amazing feeling assisting children realize their dream of acting.

~Meilin

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