Congratulations! Your child has gained a part in a Theatre Production! What happens next will vary slightly with each different production company, but this is pretty much what you will come to expect!
You will be sent various pieces of paperwork over the initial few weeks, these are likely to include: a Welcome Letter, the Licence Application Form (Part II) , a Contact or Information sheet and a Rehearsal Schedule. There may be a few other bits and pieces too, and over the coming weeks the collection will grow with Rehearsal updates, a Contract, a Script or Song words, and a Performance Schedule being added along the way. Fill forms in promptly, and keep copies of everything to hand. You will need to refer to some of them frequently especially the Schedules and the Contacts sheets.
Depending on the size of the part your child has, and how long until the opening, rehearsals can be fairly extensive (8-10 weeks of up to 10 sessions a week - including weekends!), or relatively light (a few hours after school or on Sundays for 3-4 weeks). Many production companies, with exception to the shows that have been running for some time, seem very eratic or disorganised. This means that on occasion, you may not even know if your child is needed for a rehearsal from one day to the next - you will learn to expect a phone call the evening before! Similarly, the updated rehearsal schedule for next week won't usually be given out until the rehearsals end this week, as productions change their plans at short notice depending on how everyone is picking it up, or on how crew, technicians,etc are available. The venue (usually in a hall or hired room) can change too, with rehearsals in the theatre, only taking place during the last week or two, just prior to opening. Quite often, a production will have several 'Teams', or children sharing a role. The children will usually rehearse together at first, and seperate off in the last week or two, finally having their own technical and dress rehearsals just before they open their own shows.
You as the parent will be expected to drop your child off at the rehearsal venue with the chaperone who will be waiting for you. It would be wise to supply your child with a light snack, a drink and maybe even a packed lunch, and something quiet to do whilst they are having their breaks (eg. some reading, homework or a pack of cards). You should always arrive ON TIME. There is nothing worse than a whole room waiting for your child, when rehearsal time is at a premium! You are then free to go shopping, go for a coffee, or go home even - if time allows. Please ensure that you arrive back on time to pick your child up. You will not usually be allowed to watch (some children find this too distracting - which then makes the Directors job harder) or go backstage at any time, unless you are the appointed chaperone.
Sometimes your childs contract can be extended and they may be having rehearsals with their new teams whilst still performing with the old one, -sometimes you may have a crossover period where your child may start rehearsals for a new play, or be needed for some filming work, whilst still having a few performances with their previous show. In these type of instances, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that licence regulations are kept to. No child should ever be working a 3 session day (morning, afternoon, evening) and you would be an irresponsible and inconsiderate parent if you were to let it happen! Inform everyone involved as soon as you can, about what is happening. If you are unable to attend a few early rehearsals because of performance commitments, you should let the second production company know as soon as you can. If they hired your child knowing that s/he was just finishing one job, they should fully understand and be fairly reasonable in complying with the licence rules. If you are found to be breaking the licence rules, YOU will be liable for prosecution, your child would have his or her licence stripped (and would therefore loose their job) which in turn could damage their credibility for future work!
Eventually you will be given a performance schedule, and then you can finally settle down knowing exactly when you have to be at the theatre sometime in advance...PHEW! The Rota can vary quite considerably depending on the production company working it all out. If you are lucky, it will be in a regular pattern which you will get used to quite quickly, if you are unlucky the schedule will be all over the place in such a way, that you will be left wondering who had been drinking when it was drawn up! All the children in the production will usually be given a fairly equal number of shows (where they can) and equal performances with the matinees, quiet evenings and popular evenings.
You will again be expected to drop your child off on time, at the stage door, about 1/2 to 1 hour before the performance will start (check what the 'call' is, with the chaperone, to be sure which one it will be ). You will then be free to either watch, or find something to do with yourself until pick up time, after the show has finished. Your child meanwhile, will be expected to remain professional and QUIET during the performance while s/he is waiting to go on. They should be able to keep occupied with some quiet activities, as once in costume they will not be allowed to eat food or have coloured drink (in case of accidents). For hygene reasons, you may be asked to provide a brush for your childs hair, maybe some make-up, a sponge for washing afterwards and a towel. If your child has headlice, or is ill, DO NOT SEND THEM IN! Phone someone and let them know as soon as you can so that cover can be arranged. You will not be allowed to take any time off during the contract period, which can be for up to 5-6 months at a time because of the arrangements set up. Even if your child is not performing in the contract period, they should still be kept available in case cover is needed for another sick or injured child.
Some companies may offer you a set of complimentary tickets to see your child perform, but NOT ALL WILL. If you would like some, you really need to ask the company manager if it is their policy to offer free or reduced tickets - don't expect a yes - hope for one! Please also be considerate when seeking photographs or autographs of your childs co-workers. No-one likes a camera shoved into their face, and just because the co-worker may be a famous face doesn't mean they like it any better! Many performers will say yes to a politely asked request, those who don't should be respected for their decision. Some companies organise parties at the end of the run especially for the children. The co-workers are invited and it can be arranged especially so that the children can have photographs and autographs of and with their favourites. Although you will not be allowed to take pictures of your child performing because of copyright reasons, they may be able to take their cameras backstage and take pictures in the dressing room. The chaperones may not want to be responsible for the camera (or any other valuable for that matter), so please ensure that your child is aware that he is responsible for the security of their own possessions.