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Working with Child Actors

The presence of a child actor amidst the mature subject matter of The Pain and the Itch made the production an especially challenging project for Steppenwolf. Have any questions about the steps taken to over come these challenges? Look no further! Are you concerned about the child actors in The Pain and the Itch? It is natural to be concerned about the challenging dialogue and adult subject matter that constitute The Pain and the Itch. Steppenwolf Theatre Company assures you that the child actors were treated in a manner both professional and mindful of their ages. How were the child actors cast? Child actors were not scheduled for an audition until their parents had read the script. Approximately thirty child actors ages 5-13 were auditioned. During the first audition, director Anna D. Shapiro and Steppenwolf Casting Director Erica Daniels met with each child actor and made sure they truly wanted to spend their summer acting in a play with adults. After the children expressed genuine interest, their parents were brought in to confirm the nature of the play and its requirements and commitment. Daniels and Shapiro also solicited and responded to any questions about the adult themes in the play, and how this material would be handled. They once more confirmed that the parents had read the script. Shapiro and Daniels held a callback session in which child actors were 'directed' and given tasks to perform. Any questions or concerns were again solicited from the parents. Daniels is a professional casting director with over ten years of experience. She has ensured that Steppenwolf Theatre Company is in full compliance with all Department of Labor/Division of Child Labor Laws regulations. All child actors have current work permits filed with state. For each performance, Steppenwolf submits a "night waiver" to the Department of Labor, which allows child actors to work past 9:00 pm during the summer. How were the child actors treated in rehearsal? Child actors and parents were invited to the first day of rehearsal to meet the cast, crew and full staff, but then were not present for the first two weeks of rehearsal when the intricacies of the script were discussed. They began attending regularly during the third week of rehearsal. Parents of the child actors have been allowed to watch all rehearsals at which their children are present. During both rehearsal and performances, child actors are under constant supervision. They are attended to off-stage and in their dressing rooms by an adult. This adult, known as the "child wrangler" provides supervision: she takes them to the bathroom, cues them to go on-stage and looks over them during the show when they are not on-stage. The child wrangler is a former Steppenwolf intern, Alyson Roux, whom the children and parents met during the audition process. Where are the child actors during the adult scenes in the play? The child actors are in a large dressing room with the monitors off. They go backstage and on-stage when prompted by the child wrangler and then go back to their play area in the dressing rooms. If you have any further questions about the process for working with child actors, please contact Steppenwolf at 312-335-1650.