Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPIB: All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,” – William Shakespeare

If all the world’s a stage, you can help teens play their part with some fun, theater themed programming.  Right after Halloween your local stores will be putting all their make-up and costumes on clearance, so now is a good time to stock up for a theater themed program.  You can choose from the activities below and do a one-time, one-hour workshop or you can do a series of theater themed workshops.  You can work alone or contact your local high school drama teacher or local theater to do some networking.

Head Gear: Costuming from the Neck Up

The theme for the 2011 OLC Conference was “Use Your Head”.  As part of the table decorations for the event, they thematically decorated a variety of styrofoam wig heads.  It made a cool visual impact, and is a fun, creative way to get teens involved in costuming as part of our program.  You can buy the styrofoam heads in bulk from Amazon.com.  Right after Halloween, when everything is 50 to 75% off is a great time of year to buy the costuming displays.  Because you are working with heads, you want to focus on hats, hair, and head gear.  Teens can visit your stockpile to decorate (costume) their head.  It can be done casually and just for fun, or in various types of mini challenges (think Project Runway with only the head).  You can ask them to do genre themed heads, for example.

You can let teens take their heads home, or, better yet, use them to decorate your teen area or in a display case.  Be sure to take pictures to share online.

Face Time: Stage Make-Up

There are a variety of sites online that show you how to do various types of face make-up.  You can do glam or focus on scary.  You can also make your own body/face glitter or simply do face painting.  Recent reports indicate that some Halloween and face painting materials are tainted with lead so you may want to consider making your own face paint.  And here are some face painting tips.  There are a wide variety of YouTube tutorials for all kinds of face make-up and face painting.

Dress Up Time

No costuming is complete without, well, an actual costume.  So visit a local thrift store (or,if you are anything like me, clean out your closet) and get together a wide variety of different costume options.  Again, this is a great activity to purchase various costumes on clearance at your local stores.

You can divide teens into teams and have them create a full head-to-toe costume for one of the team members.  Again, think Project Runway.  You can give them various challenges like: 70s or other decades fashion, specific genres, or ask them to create a character from a novel.

You can also do dress up relay races.

Don’t forget to take pictures!  These would be fun to use in promotional and RA materials, share online and teens are going to want the mementos because they will be having so much fun.

The Show Must Go On

You can do the above activities as a one-time program, or do them as part of a larger theater themed series of workshops.  Teens can then put together mini-plays to perform for younger audiences; they can be more complete productions with staging or you can simplify it and do some reader’s theater.  This is a great way to have fun programming for teens and give them service opportunities to perform for your younger patrons – it’s win/win for everyone.


  1. I was one of the people who did the “Use your head” theme, and it was so much fun!
    I would recommend some form of support for the heads, because they got a bit tippy with big hats. We used a particular style of plate holder for some, and glued magnets to other heads with styrofoam glue. We used steel plates under tablecloths for the magnet heads. This may seem like a lot of prep, but it was worth it.

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