How Children Earned Money Putting on a Play

MOTHER's children article showcases how children earned money putting on a play written by a child and performed by a group of children.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
September/October 1982
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The play I wrote called for one witch, a woman vampire, a man vampire, a girl, and a boy. That meant the show would have five parts . . . but there were only four of us!
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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MOTHER'S CHILDREN: How children earned money putting on a play using a simple script and an eager group of young thespians. 

MOTHER knows that many youths undertake interesting, original projects and start their own small businesses. To support these endeavors, we buy and publish well-written articles from children and teenagers concerning their efforts. However, we recommend that all young authors query (that is, send us a letter telling about the story they'd like to do) before writing a full article. Send your queries to MOTHER's Children, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. 

Last summer I was bored and broke (as usual), so I decided to put on a play with my sister and our neighbors Stacy and Joann Shaw. (I figured it'd be fun to do and might even earn us some money.) We all liked monster stories, so we put our heads together and came up with an idea for a vampire horror show called "The Perils of Mindy"

Our play started out all wrong, though, because everyone had different ideas about what should happen in it, so the show came out different every time we practiced. We soon realized that we needed a script, and I was elected to write it. Well, I'd never done anything like that before, so I tried to keep the story simple. (I figured that way we'd all he able to remember our lines!) The play I wrote called for one witch, a woman vampire, a man vampire, a girl, and a boy. That meant the show would have five parts . . . but there were only four of us! ("Nice going, David!" I thought, when I realized my goof.) We were able to fix that problem, though, by having me play both the boy and the man vampire.

As soon as we started rehearsing, we ran into another difficulty. Everyone joked around so much that we had a lot of fun . . . but didn't get anywhere with learning the play! Finally we sat down together and all agreed to try hard to be serious. (I also asked my mom to watch us for a while and help us keep our minds on our work.) Before long we were really rehearsing well, and the play started making sense. We decided to set the date of our performance for a Saturday two weeks away.

As the big event came closer, the four of us drew up posters to advertise our show. We had a lot of' fun doing that and making 10 cent admission tickets. Then we began hanging the posters in public places and selling tickets — while dressed in our costumes — around the neighborhood. (You should have seen some people's expressions when they opened up their front doors and came face to face with a group of toothy vampires and witches. Gasp!) We also practiced out in front of Stacy and Joann's house every day, hoping people would get curious about what was going on, wanting to see the play and how children earned money putting on a play.

Along with doing our own promotion, we had to design and make all our costumes and stage equipment. Actually, most of our props, scenery, and clothes were leftovers from past Halloweens, but the girls had a ball working on scary makeup. (Since I had to play a boy as well as a monster, I didn't get to wear makeup. I wore a mask for my vampire face instead.) We also tape-recorded a bunch of scary screams and moans and witchy laughs, along with some creepy music, to use for sound effects in our spooky house scene. Then we dug up a big cardboard box for Dracula's coffin and taped bats, skeletons, and other decorations to a wood panel that we propped up to use as a makeshift backdrop for our stage. Next, with our parents' permission we borrowed folding chairs, to set up on the Shaws' front lawn (our "theater"), and made plans to sell popcorn and punch. We even bought a few cookies to give away . . . and those free goodies alone got a lot of other neighborhood kids to come to our play! The four of us chipped in 50 cents each to pay for the food.

When the day of the play arrived, we ended up with a much bigger audience than we'd expected . . . because some people just wandered in, once they saw that a show was about to take place, and bought tickets. Suddenly, looking out at the big crowd, we all got very nervous. Stacy even asked, "What's my first line?" It made me feel like running away!

But we went ahead and performed in spite of our butterflies, and the show came off fine. Oh, we had a few foul-ups, like the time I was a vampire climbing out of a coffin and tripped over my cape. Fortunately, the audience laughed at that . . . they thought it was part of the play! And later on, I was supposed to shoot the vampires with a cap gun, but the caps didn't go off! (I tried to cover up for that goof by saying the gun had a silencer.) Actually, as the show went on, the four of us relaxed and even hammed it up a bit, so the play turned into a sort of comedy, which made it even more fun. At the end we all sang a song and took our bows, while the audience clapped and cheered. They loved it . . . and we were thrilled!

Each of us got a lot out of the chance to be creative and do our own play, too. In fact, I feel more sure of myself, now that I've been out in front of a lot of people performing a show I helped make up! On top of that, we each earned $2.00 from tickets and food sales, so we got our 50 cent investments back plus $1.50 profit. All in all, doing a show of our own was so rewarding and so much fun that we're going to do another one this year.

Why don't you try it, too?


STORYLINE: THE PERILS OF MINDY 

ACT I  

Mindy is bitten by a vampire in a graveyard. She talks to her friend Greg about the attack, and he promises to help her. He gives her a cross to wear.

ACT II  

Mindy loses her way in a terrible storm. She finds shelter in an old scary mansion where she meets a spooky-looking old lady who is really a witch. Mindy sees a lot of frightening things and hears weird noises. Suddenly a vampire rises up out of the coffin she is sitting on and grabs her front behind. She screams. Then a woman vampire comes up to bite her. Mindy shows her cross. That helps ward off the woman vampire, but the man vampire grabs the cross, and poor Mindy is bitten again.

Twice now our heroine has been bitten by the dreaded vampire. Will she join the ranks of the Evil Undead?

ACT III  

Mindy goes to a party, but everyone there is strangely dressed. Mindy's puzzled . . . she hadn't been told this was going to be a costume party. Suddenly the other guests surround her, yelling "Refreshment time!"

"Good, "Mindy says. "What are we having?" The members of the creepy group yell, "YOU!" and start after her. Run, Mindy, run! The evil bloodsuckers catch her. All looks lost . . . until Greg arrives with his silver bullets to save the day!

The End  


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