Strokes of Genius Show Requirements
Performance Comparisons and Needs
Strokes of Genius, I make every effort to tailor all my performances to be “age-appropriate.”
This is accomplished by adjusting the vocabulary and the depth of content,
but not the slides or the volunteer-participation activities. I am not
only a former teacher who has taught K-12 and college level students for
more than 20 years, I have also raised three children of my own. If the small size of your
group or its budget requires that the audience encompass a wider than
3-year age span, the youngest audience members will need to grasp what
they can, since I need to gear most of the performance to the older students.
Study of the vocabulary sheets before the show will help the youngest
students, but the visual nature of the performance and the dynamic acting
has always contributed greatly toward holding their attention.
If there is any question concerning the content of the performance as it
relates to your audience, please request to preview the show at another
school or to view an outline. These productions are not merely slide shows
featuring the artist's work — they are about the artist’s
life and times. They are based on the actual words, quoted or written.
The purpose is to give insight into why they created art the way they
did, and to inspire your students to become geniuses, no matter how challenging
their own lives have been so far.
Before your performance, you must read the contract:
- Are the dates correct?
- Are the times correct?
- Did you write up directions and/or draw a simple map?
- Are all the technical requirements do-able?
The length of the show does not include the time necessary to bring the
students from their classrooms to the performing area to be seated and
back. Please budget time for these maneuvers. Due to the nature of the
performance (audience interaction, volunteers, and potential technical
problems), not all shows run the same length. If the performance is running
long and there’s no way to adjust for it, just have someone step
up to the side of the performing area to get my attention, and I will
wrap it up within 5 minutes. Simply turning on the lights is disrespectful
and models disrespect in front of the students. If a shorter show than
normal is requested from the beginning, someone in charge will need to
review an outline of the show to suggest which portions you wish to cut
in order to shorten the normal running time.
You must measure the performance space with a tape measure or with an accurate
count of floor tiles (12 inch or 9 inch squares) and/or cinder blocks
(8 inches tall and 16 inches wide) — inaccurate estimates have spoiled
some shows! ”There is no certainty in science, where mathematics
cannot be applied.” — Leonardo Da Vinci
*The stage area must be a minimum of 40′ wide x 24′ deep
You must choose your volunteers before they walk into the performing space
to avoid lengthening the performance time. Volunteers should sit in the
front or along the sides of the seating area to ensure quick access to
and from the performing area. If you need to read their names off a list,
that’s okay. I’ll simply ask for the category.
All windows need to be blacked out. All lights need to be turned off at
the time of the introduction. Most gymnasiums today have mercury vapor
lights that take many minutes to re-light the room. Since the lights that
I use to light the performing area involve 2,500 watts of illumination,
students should have no trouble exiting the gym while the mercury vapor
lights are warming up, since my lights remain on and will give adequate
visibility for safety. If the performing area has emergency lights, for
the sake of the slide presentation, it would be best if these were temporarily
turned off or at least covered — especially if they shine down directly
above or in front of the projection screen (the corner of the gym on the
audience’s right hand side). For a
Van Gogh this is absolutely essential.
There is no need for a center aisle — these are the best seats in
the house! Seating should not be arranged so that the audience wraps around
the performing area, since slides are part of the show and they become
less luminous the more they are viewed at an acute angle toward the projection
screen. If the students are sitting on the floor, it is advisable to allow
the youngest who are often seated first in front, to stand at their places
until everyone has arrived for the performance — otherwise they
have to sit the longest.
If the students are sitting on the floor, it is best if the performing
area is raised or the classes seated at the back are elevated in some
way — such as on chairs. If the entire audience is sitting in chairs
on the same level, it is also advisable to have a raised performing area
and it may be necessary for the classes seated at the back to stand during
certain parts of the presentation in order to see over all the students
seated in front of them.
A brief introduction as the character being portrayed, concluding with
welcoming applause, is necessary to let me know when everyone is ready
for the show to begin.
Students should have a thorough understanding of the difference between
a live presentation and a television show — that sharing thoughts
with their neighbor during the show is disrespectful to the performer
who hears everything they say, and is disrespectful to the other audience
members who can’t hear the performer over their voices. Live performances
are a form of two-way communication between each individual audience member
and the performer.
Since most students are quite capable of sitting for one and a half or
two hours to watch a movie, they should be expected to be able to take
care of their washroom needs before the performance and not have to exit
during the show. I do not have a problem with students who have an emergency,
however; and exiting without permission is acceptable as long as the total
number of exits are as few as possible.
It is my goal for the audience to leave feeling invigorated and inspired.
I want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the educational, insightful,
and always high-spirited performance!