IL Jr Thespian Conference!
I had the honor of speaking at the Illinois Junior Thespian Conference last Saturday. At first I thought, what on earth do I have to say to the students, parents and teachers that they would be interested in? Then, I came up with a plan.
I was the final speaker of the day, and I was afraid I would be dealing with very tired people. So I started with a short energy exercise. I use this great exercise myself a lot. It is simple and easy – just massage your ears thoroughly inside and out for 10 seconds and WOW. A burst of energy fills your body that will last up to 30-45 minutes. And…it worked.
Here is what I said next, “My name is Larry Little and I am a producer of new musicals. I create and develop characters and stories that are the basis for brand new musicals – and I am a man on a mission! It is my mission to create new musicals featuring leading, supporting and featured roles for females. It is also my mission to do what I can to add roles for all ethnicities both on stage and back stage. And, I need your help!”
I then shared with them a little of my background and history – how I saw my first musical when I was in the 7th grade – many of the students there were that age – and how I had my first speaking role when I was in 9th grade. I talked about how I took dance classes on a scholarship that I earned when I offered to mop the floor and clean the mirrors. I talked about the commitment and dedication that was drilled into me from my teachers and mentors. Then, I got to the fun part.
I had asked two students to prepare songs, one each from 57th NATIONAL MATHLETE SUM-IT and GIRLHOOD. In each case, I told a little bit about the show and the character that was going to sing. Then we all heard the song. BAM – the students were spellbound. I talked about how I created the characters of McGery in MATHLETE and Judy in GIRLHOOD. I talked about what each character wanted and how they expressed it in their songs.
I ended with a Q&A and this is where I was blown away. Here were some of the questions: “If you could go back and give your 15 year old self advice what would it be?” “As the musicals you create change and grow, how difficult is it to cut either a song or dialogue?” “Why did you stop performing?”
Afterward we took a group picture and hugged and said goodbye. I thought I was going to be teaching them, but they really taught me. They reminded me about graciousness and courage. Hope I can remember these things as I continue to refine and sell GIRLHOOD and THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS.