Each year, the teens of Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble write, produce, and perform an original play dealing with teen dating violence and healthy relationships. This year’s play deal with Ruth and Elliot, two siblings who seek escape from their dad’s emotional abuse through expression: Elliot through his music and Ruth through her perfectly curated Instagram feed. Of course, escapism only works for so long and the characters eventually must confront the abuse’s impact on their emotional wellbeing, mental health, and relationships.
On May 14 & 15, the Austin community will be able to check out the play at two public performances (RSVP here!). What the audience won’t see however, are the many, many behind-the-scenes hours the ensemble spent touring the play to various middle schools, sometimes waking up at six am to begin play prep.
Ensemble member Amber Fluker captured some of these candid moments to give Creative Action supporters an idea of a day in the life of Changing Lives cast members.
Changing Lives members are cast and crew. When they arrive at a middle school (often early in the morning), they unload the set themselves. Sometimes, they perform at two schools in one day, meaning they unload and load the set twice!
This year’s play utilizes two painted backdrops and a projection screen. Ensemble members set all of this up — and get pretty good at doing it every year they’re a part of the group.
When you go to see a live performance, you probably don’t think about details like prop placement. Props need to be in a place that’s handy and easy for the actors to find. In Changing Lives, a dedicated crew member is responsible for this important detail.
Reading Lines + Rehearsal
In the downtime between setting up and performing cast members run lines to make sure they’re well prepared once it’s showtime.
In the final few moments before the show begins, cast members do warmup exercises that helps them practice their enunciation, articulation, and voice projection. At this point, it’s almost showtime!
You’ll have to attend the public performances to check out the show itself, but no performance day is complete without a post-play talk back. Below, one Changing Lives senior describes the talk back portion of the show, their favorite part.