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The Drama Teacher Podcast
27 minutes | Sep 3, 2018
Theatre as a Teaching Tool
Episode 214: Theatre as a teaching tool The drama classroom is not just a place for games and play time. You can use theatre as a teaching tool – perhaps the most important one students will ever receive. That’s the philosophy of long time drama teacher Michelle Huerta and she has grown and changed over the years as her students have grown and changed. Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy School Daze Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 214. You can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode214. Today is a lovely conversation. It’s one of those ones that, you know, it starts in one place and ends up in another. You know, I say that and then, well, I suppose all conversations do that, don’t they? We don’t just stay in one place. Otherwise, all the words would just dump all on top of each other and you wouldn’t be able to understand anything. Now, I’m thinking about conversations that tumble on top of each other. This tangent is brought to you by Theatrefolk.com. Our guest today is a 30-year teacher veteran and, frankly, I love what she has to say about being a long-term teacher. I love what she has to say about 21st century students. I love her advice for new teachers and I know that you are going to love it, too. Let’s get to it. I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everybody! I am so excited today to be talking to Michelle Huerta. Hello, Michelle! MICHELLE: Hi Lindsay! How are you? LINDSAY: Fantastic! First of all, please let everybody know where you are in the world today. MICHELLE: I am in Austin, Texas – very far southwest part of Austin, Texas. LINDSAY: Very nice. How long have you been a teacher? MICHELLE: I have been teaching for over 30 years. LINDSAY: I like the laugh before you thought. It was like, “Oh, my goodness, 30 years.” MICHELLE: Yeah, yeah. LINDSAY: Let’s talk about that for a second. That’s fantastic. How do you feel about teaching for 30 years? MICHELLE: I can’t believe that it’s been that long. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. But, whenever I say it, I realize that means I must be old if I’ve been teaching that long. But I love teaching middle school and I’ve been teaching middle school now for about 25 years. LINDSAY: Let’s talk about that for a second. What keeps you teaching? MICHELLE: The kids. I just love working with the kids. I think, middle school, a lot of people go, “Oh, you teach middle school? Oh, my gosh!” but I actually love middle school compared to high school because, in high school, they’re getting to that age a lot of times where they’re a little jaded. They think they’re a little bit too cool. In middle school, there’s still that excitement about learning new things and figuring things out. I really enjoy their enthusiasm and it makes me energized, if that makes any sense. I know a lot of people would think that’s crazy – that it usually makes you tired – but, their energy, I feed off of it. It’s just great. LINDSAY: I think that just means that you’ve actually found and lived the thing you were meant to do, right? – when it energizes you instead of exhausts you. MICHELLE: Exactly. LINDSAY: Here’s a great question. It’s really interesting. I talk to a lot of new teachers in a lot of situations where there’s a lot of turnover of teachers. Since I have a 30-year veteran on the line here, do you think that students have changed in your time of teaching? MICHELLE: They have. They’ve changed and so has education a little bit. I know we teachers that have been in the field for a long time say, “Oh, this is the same thing, it’s just a different name.” But, I think, especially in the last few years with the use of technology, I think things are definitely changing. I think students are different, but they’re really still the same, if that makes any sense. In a real sense, developmentally, they’re the same. What they’re dealing with is very different than when I first started teaching because technology wasn’t what it is. And so, it just brings a whole new set of problems for them. And so, I think, in that way, they’ve changed. I don’t think they’ve changed so much as the problems that they face have changed. LINDSAY: I think that’s an excellent way of putting it. I get the question a lot. “How can you write for middle school students or high school students when it’s been a long time?” and that’s my impression as well. It’s that the thing that’s going on in the heart of a middle schooler is the exact same thing that was happening to me when I was a middle schooler. Lots of things around them change, but they don’t change. MICHELLE: That’s true. That is very true. Think about it. The great stories that were told are still universal today. I think the human experience is still the same. It’s just it may look a little bit different, depending on the neighborhood or the part of the country you live in. But, really, the problems, the issues are all the same. LINDSAY: I think that probably stands you pretty well that you can see that and that you don’t think that these kids don’t listen like they used to, or they don’t do this like they used to, but just to embrace them for who they are at this exact moment. MICHELLE: Exactly. I think, if you can embrace them and try to see things the way they see the world, if you can do a little bit of that, I think it helps with your longevity because you have to grow, and you have to change so that you can understand things. The more they change, the more they’re the same. LINDSAY: Absolutely. You are at the middle school level. You do teach drama full-time? Or is that an add-on? MICHELLE: Yes, I’m very lucky. I’ve built the program. I opened the school that I teach in right now. In fact, next year will be our tenth year to be open. I’ve built the program enough that there are two of us. There are actually two teachers that teach here. LINDSAY: That’s amazing! What is it about being a drama educator that really speaks to you? Maybe instead of performing drama, what is it about the drama education angle? MICHELLE: I started out as a pre-law major and I was not thinking about teaching at all. I really didn’t have a lot of experience in theatre although I loved theatre. And then, I kind of fell into it in college and got involved in it and then decided that, if I was going to teach something, that I wanted to teach something that I really enjoyed. And so, that’s kind of how I started with it. And then, when I went back and got my master’s, I saw the importance of creative drama and really using theatre not only as a subject but as a teaching tool to reach students who may be reluctant of learning the traditional way in the classroom. And so, I got really excited about how theatre is not just a subject but actually a tool for learning. LINDSAY: You have just segued into the thing that we’re going to talk about today – seamlessly, almost like you knew exactly how it all kind of fits in. I love this idea that theatre is not a subject but a teaching tool. That’s going to be the title of this podcast. I think, if I could put that on a T-shirt, I would because that’s, I think, where people falter, right? They see the games and they see this. They see theatre as a subject and, as a subject, it maybe feels lacking. But a teaching tool? What a great way to approach it! One of the things we’re here to talk about today is you use a play of ours, a play of mine – School Daze – kind of like a teaching tool. You’ve used it for, I think, this is your fourth year of putting on School Daze, is that right? MICHELLE: Yes. Yes, I love, love, love that play. Even in these last years, it still is just as fresh and just as perfect for what’s going on in a kid’s world. I use it to help with the transition from fifth grade to sixth grade. It really helps. The counselors at my school love when I do this because it really helps those fifth-graders to kind of see middle school as something that’s not so scary because they are scared of what it’s going to be like. They’re leaving elementary and they’re going to middle school, so they’re not exactly sure what they’re facing. And so, as a tool for the students to learn about middle school – and then, for my sixth-grade students to be able to use it as a performance tool – it just fits so nice. It’s such a wonderful little package. LINDSAY: Oh! There were a couple of things in there! Let’s just run this a little bit. You have your sixth-graders practice and perform the play for incoming fifth-graders. Do you do that at the beginning? No, it’s the end of the schoolyear. This is, like, fifth-graders who will come to the school in the fall? MICHELLE: Yes. We have a transition day where all of the elementary students come over to the middle school and visit so that they can see what it’s like as part of their transition. The counselors asked me to perform something several years ago and I’d already read School Daze and so I knew it would be perfect to perform for those incoming fifth-graders and they love it. It also helps recruit for my program because the fifth-graders that come to see the show see my sixth-graders performing it and they remember it. They remember “Oh! I want to do that!” and I have kids, especially the jeans, cute T-shirt, sweater. Oh, they quote that all the time! Even my incoming sixth-graders remember it from when they saw it in the spring. LINDSAY: School Daze is essentially a day in the life of someone starting middle school. What a great thing, too. The fifth-graders who are coming in see something they want to do. but, the sixth-graders, this must give them a little… not seniorit
37 minutes | Aug 20, 2018
Happy Birthday Frankenstein!
Episode 213: Happy Birthday Frankenstein! It’s Frankenstein’s Birthday this month! Or more accurately, it’s the birthday of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of the classic gothic romance Frankenstein. Drama teacher and playwright Laramie Dean talks about writing his adaptation of the novel (Frankenstein Among the Dead), what it’s like to take on this iconic work and writing for his students. How do you adapt it to the high school stage and high school budgets? How do you adapt it so there is more variety in the gender roles? (PS: there are great parts for girls in his play!) Show Notes Frankenstein Among the Dead Laramie Dean Podcast: This Place Scares Us on Frankenstein Among the Dead Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 213, and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode213. Did you know it’s Frankenstein’s birthday this month? Happy birthday, Frankenstein! Well, more accurately, it is the birthday of Mary – oh, I’m going to say this so wrong – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Mary Shelley – the author of the classic gothic romance, Frankenstein. Our guest today tackled this iconic story and adapted it into a play – a play for high schools. Not an easy feat, right? There are many movie adaptations, many parodies. “It’s Frankens-teen, not Frankenstein.” That was the worst ever, don’t you think? I think! Many versions of the monster. How do you make it theatrical? How do you adapt it to the high school stage and high school budget? How do you make it current to the student climate? We can’t publish a play that’s all guys and all the great parts. So many questions! Let’s get to the answers. I’ll see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello! Thank you everybody for listening! I’m here today with Laramie Dean. LARAMIE: Hello, Lindsay! LINDSAY: Tell everybody where in the world you are. LARAMIE: I am in Missoula, Montana. LINDSAY: Missoula, Montana. Very nice. We’re going to talk about a lot of things. We’re going to talk about you. We’re going to talk about Frankenstein Among the Dead which is this lovely – let’s see – this lovely thing. It’s a brand-new play here at Theatrefolk. We’re going to start with you and teaching. How long have you been a drama teacher? LARAMIE: I started teaching theatre in 2003 as an assistant to one of the professors of the University of Montana where I had just recently finished my bachelor’s degree in acting and I was sort of at odds. I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore. Dr Jillian Campana – who is a huge influence on me and my career – asked me to come and assistant direct the university’s production of The Laramie Project. I had never directed before. She said, “Oh, you’ll be great, you’ll be great!” We had a freshman in the program. He was very hard to reach, and she was having trouble directing him. She said, “You work with this guy after rehearsal.” I was like, “Ah, umm…” I sat down with him and we talked. I gave him some suggestion and some direction. He changed for the better and, all of a sudden, I went, “Oh, my god, I can do this. I’m actually good at this.” I went back to grad school and Jillian gave me lots of opportunities with TA and then I got my own classes and I had a playwriting class. Finally, several years down the road, I decided to become a high school theatre teacher and ended up with my job at Hellgate High School which is the most fantastic name a theatre teacher like me could possibly work at. LINDSAY: Well, we’re going to talk a little bit about horror and that, I think, is just an even better school title when you like horror and you write horror. You work at Hellgate High. I just think that’s fantastic. LARAMIE: I agree! LINDSAY: What was your high school theatre experience like? Let’s start there. What was it like for you when you were in high school? LARAMIE: My personal experience? Actually, I actually went to Hellgate my freshman and sophomore year in high school, and I was lucky to be able to take drama classes. They had drama classes – not full-time, which I’m also super lucky to be able to teach full-time theatre classes at Hellgate. My first play I auditioned for at Hellgate was actually Dracula. When we talk about Frankenstein in a little bit, we’ll also talk about how I was never a huge Frankenstein fan as a kid. I was always more into Dracula and the Wolfman. But I auditioned for Dracula as a freshman. I did not get cast. I was devastated. Tried again in the fall. Hellgate did The Crucible and I was cast as Thomas Putnam. I had a great time. It was depressing. It was November and dark. LINDSAY: And it’s The Crucible. LARAMIE: Not the musical version, not a fun version, no happy ending. LINDSAY: What? LARAMIE: I know, I know – that Arthur Miller! What can you do with him? Then, we ended up doing The Foreigner and I was a Ku Klux Klan member. I had one line and didn’t show up until the end. My drama teacher sequestered me and my fellow KKK characters to do a completely separate green room. Kept us separate from everybody else. I should ask her why. Hey, Tammy, why did you do that? It was 20 years ago. I’m sure you remember. But it was fun. We were in Missoula because my mom was in law school. I’m actually originally from a little farming community in far northeastern Montana. After mom finished law school, we moved back to the farm which was tough. I mean, my graduating class in the little town that I moved back to is ten people. Yes. My English teacher decided to do a play. It was awful, but it was fun. It was called Hail, the Hunkering Hero. I’m sorry if the playwright for that is somewhere out of the world, but it was pretty bad. I played a football-loving Appalachian hillbilly character. So, that was a stretch. But it was fun. We had a good time. When I went back to the University of Montana, I sort of wandered around for a while and took an acting non-majors class kind of by accident. I stumbled into it. The graduate student that was teaching it said, “Why aren’t you a theatre major?” I was like, “Uh…” and then he started convincing me to do that. He cast me in The Threepenny Opera and then – waboom! – 20 years later, I’m a published playwright with Theatrefolk. LINDSAY: Yes, you are. Yes, you are! Yes, that is the end of the story. Now, we’re going to get to Frankenstein Among the Dead. You’ve been writing for your students. That was the first play you wrote for your students, right? Is it? That’s a good question. Is this the first play that you wrote for your students? LARAMIE: Now that I think about it, no. It was Alice in Wonderland. We did Alice in Wonderland first. I wanted to build my program up. I think it was my second or third year at Hellgate and we wanted to build the program. I love Alice in Wonderland. It touched some very specific buttons in the community because, up until then, we’d had pretty good audiences, but Alice in Wonderland, we have a beautiful auditorium – 565 seats – and we sold out every night for our three performances. I was like, “Oh! I guess everyone likes Alice in Wonderland!” It was with a big cast, crazy design, colors, lots of lunacy, and everyone loved it. I don’t remember why I decided to do Frankenstein. Oh, yes, I do! In my intermediate drama classes, I teach a design unit and we do this toy theatre project where they study a little bit about toy theatre and the history of toy theatre. And then, I give them literature or children’s plays. Every year, somebody does something really super cool with one of the children’s plays. That year, one of my really awesome students, Anna Harrison, had done Frankenstein and they did a lightning bolt. Of course, the sets are pretty much just about this big. She had a lightning bolt built into the back of a set – the upstage wall of the set – and a flashlight behind it that would light up whenever the monster came to life or something scary would happen. I went, “Oh, that’s really cool! That’s really exciting!” I thought, “Hey, I’ll do Frankenstein next.” I think that I had spring break. I sat down, and we actually had a lovely spring that year – 2015, I think. I sat on my front porch and drank coffee and started writing Frankenstein and had a great time. So, that was my second play that I wrote for my students, I think. LINDSAY: What’s that experience like when you have something, and you bring it in and you just sort of lay it out for them? What’s their feedback like? What’s it like when you work with them? LARAMIE: They tend to love it. They brag about it a little bit. Sometimes, they go, “Our theatre teacher writes his own plays!” It’s fun. We can change things or tailor things specifically for whatever cast happens to exist, if a line doesn’t work. When we did Dracula two years ago, actually, the second night, I called the lead actress that played Mina and I was like, “I want to write a new ending to the show. I want to write a little five-sentence monologue at the end of Dracula. If I send that to you now, can you memorize it before tonight?” and she was like, “Yes.” We can do cool things like that. You know how this works. You’re in the middle of a run. Actually, when I was doing my PhD in Playwriting and Speech Communication in Carbondale, Illinois, at the Southern Illinois University, the culminating project for both the MFA playwrights and the PhD playwrights is you write a play and the university stages it. I was working with a director named Tom Kidd. He was fabulous. He was very upfront with the actors at the very beginning of the process. He said, “This is a living play and it has the possibility or the potential to c
27 minutes | Aug 6, 2018
Drama Teachers: Take back the classics
Episode 212: Drama Teachers: Take back the classics Julie Hartley wants you to take back the classics. Lose the idea that Shakespeare is high brow and just for people who only have a grasp of the language. Listen in to learn a practical and classroom driven approach to a classical text. Show Notes Julie Hartley website Centauri Arts Camp Drama Teacher Academy Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 212. You can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode212. Today, we are talking the classics – the “classics” with quotation marks and fancy fonts. For example, classics, Shakespeare!’ Now, we’re not just talking Shakespeare, we’re not just talking the classics. We are specifically talking about taking back the classics. The word “classic” has such a connotation to it, right? It makes some people think of a piece that is beyond them. “Oh, it’s so uber important! Oh, it’s a classic!” Or the opposite. “It’s dusty and boring and completely irrelevant to the current times.” Our guest today wants you to trash both those notions. Shakespeare is current and relevant. Shakespeare should not be put on a pedestal. I love it! I love her approach, and I know you will, too! Let’s get to it. I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! I am here today, talking with Julie Hartley. Hello, Julie! JULIE: Hi! LINDSAY: First of all, could you tell everybody where in the world you are? JULIE: Physically, right now, I am in Toronto. I work generally all across Southern Ontario. LINDSAY: Very cool. Very cool. When this goes to air, it will be hopefully nice spring weather and maybe even summer weather. Right now, though, I think we’re both dealing with a little bit of winter fatigue. How was the ice storm where you are? JULIE: Hopefully, it’s clearing up today. It was pretty bad over the weekend, though. We’re definitely ready for spring here. LINDSAY: I know it, I know it. I know too that spring for you means something kind of exciting. We’re going to be talking about Shakespeare, and particularly how you can take classical text and really make them come alive in the classroom. Julie, you were many hats, and one of your great hats is an arts summer camp. Talk about that for just a second. JULIE: Yeah, sure! We’ve been doing this for the past 24 years. What we do is, every summer, we bring together up to 500 children and teenagers from all over the world. They come and join us at a big center down in the Niagara region, and we bring together arts professionals – mostly from all over Canada – who offer specialized courses for the teenagers. In theatre, we have everything from stage combat, clown, improvisation, comedy. We have programs that focus on scene study and other programs that focus on devised theatre. Pretty much, I guess, a child or a teenager could come to us every summer for about five to six years and never cover the same material twice. They have so many different focuses they can choose from, all of them to do with theatre. It’s a summer camp, but it’s also an arts training ground for kids in the summer. LINDSAY: I think it’s wonderful. And the name of your camp? JULIE: It’s Centauri Summer Arts Camp. LINDSAY: Very nice. Very nice. You’ve had quite a journey because you didn’t start in Canada. You started in the north of England. I think everybody knows that you are from England, but I’ll just say it. How long have you been in Canada? JULIE: I’ve been in Canada now for 25 years. We emigrated in order to set up the camp and it was successful, so we stayed here, and we built an arts career for ourselves here. I was a teacher in the UK before we emigrated. LINDSAY: I know that you do a lot. I know you’re a writer and I know that you do a lot of workshops in the classroom, specifically around this whole notion of practicality and just having practical tools for teachers to use and for you to share with students. What is it about teaching theatre that appeals to you? JULIE: Well, that’s a really difficult question. LINDSAY: “It doesn’t! Our conversation is over!” No, no, no. JULIE: I guess there are so many different ways to answer that question. I love working with kids. I love seeing what they can come up with creatively. One of the things that really interests me is how, when you really delve into acting technique, what you’re really looking at is life. It’s the philosophy of how we live and how we operate physically, emotionally, intellectually, and I think it’s very exciting to engage young people with those kind of ideas in the theatre classroom because it means that whatever they’re interested in – whether it’s the creative aspect of theatre or whether the psychology of it, there’s always something that they can grapple with, I think, when you can approach theatre from that sort of angle. I’m interested in the creative aspects of the arts, but also very much what they can tell us about us as human beings. LINDSAY: I love that perspective. I’m doing some work right now with theatre and empathy and just about how the theatre classroom is a great place for that. The person I’m working with has a background in just working with all kinds of different students. He’s really big on the idea that theatre classrooms can be just about that about how do we connect with each other, how do we connect with our characters, how do we connect with the outside world and life, and what it means to us as human beings. I just think it’s lovely. You know, it’s one thing to say, “Oh, we should look at process over the product,” which is a little bit difficult sometimes because there is product in the theatre classroom as well, but to think about it all in the realm of “how are we as human beings?” I like that. Sorry, I just went on a little tangent there. JULIE: I think it’s entirely true, yeah. When I was teaching in England which is obviously a long time ago now, the GCSE syllabus – which was the syllabus the kids took up to age 16 – did not explore theatre as an artform at all. It was all about how drama could enhance a life experience for kids, for example, by placing them in situations that they may not have encountered yet and examining how those situations might play out in reality and then getting them to talk about it afterwards. It’s a very experiential process, and it was only really when you move into 16 to 18-year-olds and the A-levels that it became about theatre and about performance. I think I probably carried a little bit of that forwards although I tend to mix the two now. LINDSAY: Awesome. Let’s talk about some of that – that concept when we’re dealing with classical works like Shakespeare. There’s a lot of fear in students when they approach the Bard and you feel quite strongly – from what I know – that students can do it and they don’t need coddling or they don’t need translation. They can actually take it and work it. JULIE: Yeah, it was interesting. I have a 12-year-old daughter and the first time we took her to see Shakespeare, she was 10. We took her to Stratford, Ontario, to see a production. Before we went in, we wanted to give her something to hold onto because we knew it was going to be very difficult for her. And so, we sort of stressed all along. Sometimes, the most important things that we can do are the ones that we have to work for. I remember the last thing I said to her before we went in to see the production was, “It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand every word. Look for concepts, not for every word, and that’s a good place to begin,” and that was the thing she held onto. When we came out, she said, “Mummy, I really enjoyed it and there was so much I understood.” She said, “I didn’t understand every word, but it didn’t matter.” I think, if students understand that they can begin at that place, then they’re very empowered because an understanding of every word comes when they have a reason to understand every word. Then, it becomes good for things like their understanding of literature on a much denser way, I guess. But, first of all, it’s just about appreciation. It’s about enjoyment and it’s about hooking them on something that can be a love of something for life. LINDSAY: I just love that idea of saying upfront, “It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand every word,” because I think particularly in the classroom – in an English classroom and sometimes in theatre classrooms and even if you’re producing a Shakespeare play – that language piece sometimes comes first, and that’s a big hurdle. JULIE: Yeah, absolutely. I think we also tend to forget that, obviously, Shakespeare is revered because of his language. But, I think, when we’re drama teachers and we approach Shakespeare from the perspective it was supposed to be approached from which is not just the words, what we realize is this was a guy who really understood action. He understood the importance of moving beyond words into what was beneath them, into human experiences, into incredible aspects of action and experience that move beyond an understanding of the words anyway, and that means that, as drama teachers, we can often tackle a lot of Shakespeare and involve our students in what Shakespeare was trying to do without necessarily having to fall back on language right away. LINDSAY: I actually wrote this down – that Shakespeare was a guy who understood action. How can we translate that into a drama classroom? Obviously, when teachers are wanting to study Shakespeare with their students or put on a play with students, text is not the first thing, right? JULIE: No, I would introduce so many other things before I introduce text. For a s
30 minutes | Jul 23, 2018
Putting together a touring high school show
Episode 211: Putting together a touring high school show How do you put together a touring show with your students? Drama Teacher Mike Yoson and his advanced production class completed their first tour this past year. Listen in to hear the successes and struggles of this fabulous project. Show Notes The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 211. Woot, woot! And you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode211. All right. I love starting with questions. I have so many questions for you! And then, it becomes interactive. You can answer. I can’t hear you but… well, actually, yes. Yes, I can. Of course, I can. I always hear you. Do you have an advanced theatre class? Are you looking for a new challenge? What about a touring show? Can you imagine putting that together with your students? Eh? Yes? No? Never? Maybe? Well, our guest today did just that, and you – lucky you – get to find out all the successes and struggles of this fabulous project. So, let’s get to it. I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! Lindsay Price here from Theatrefolk. Thanks for joining me! I am talking with drama teacher – Mike Yoson. Hello, Mike! MIKE: Hello! How are you? LINDSAY: I’m fabulous! I’m fabulous! So, tell everybody where in the world you are. MIKE: I am in Piscataway, New Jersey. That’s the central area of New Jersey, about an hour outside of New York. LINDSAY: Very cool, very cool. How long have you been a drama teacher? MIKE: This is my third year – fairly new. LINDSAY: That’s okay. That’s all right. We know lots of people who are new. What was it about teaching? What drew you to teaching drama? MIKE: Sure. I grew up being the biggest drama kid ever. I actually went to school for acting. I went to school in New York for that. And then, after I lived there for four years, I came back to New Jersey and I ended up working at a school for students with multiple disabilities as an aide. It was a school that I’d worked at in the past and I ended up having a full-year job there. Through my time at that school, I realized, “Hey! I think teaching is a really cool thing to do and I really enjoy it.” So, I decided to combine my two passions. I went back to school, got my theatre ed certifications, and started teaching high school. LINDSAY: Have you been at the same school since you started? MIKE: Yes, Piscataway High School. LINDSAY: But it’s a very specific shift, eh? MIKE: Oh, yeah. LINDSAY: To go from “I want to be a performer” to “I want to be in the classroom.” What do you think it is about being in the classroom that that’s the thing that you wanted to pursue? MIKE: Well, I loved my high school theatre days. I look back on it so passionately. I just think it was so much fun. Once I started delving into the teaching, I realized how cool it was to expose kids to theatre for the first time or even develop their skills if they were “theatre kids” from birth like I was. Just to see them grow and develop and find a new passion or just find a place where they can grow more confidence. That’s what I love about teaching theatre. LINDSAY: You’ve been doing it for three years now. What’s one thing that was pretty unexpected about teaching that they didn’t really prepare you for when you went to school? MIKE: Hmm… LINDSAY: Unless you had an amazing teacher, unless you had an amazing school. MIKE: I had great professors and everything. I guess the biggest – how do I say it? – obstacle starting teaching was that not every kid is super passionate about what I’m teaching or what we’re doing in class. My first year specifically because, when I came into my position, the theatre classes moved to the visual and performing arts department, so they were taught by an English teacher prior. There was all these new classes that they could take, so these kids got placed into the class or some of them took them but some of them were totally not into what we were doing. So, kind of finding that balance of teaching theatre but also trying to make it very relevant for them, too. For the kids that weren’t super on the Broadway or film track, I found that challenging when I first started. LINDSAY: It’s so funny, eh? Because I think everybody loves theatre. MIKE: I know, right? LINDSAY: Everybody is into it and they just want to sing in the halls. I’m not even in the classroom full-time! I just go in to do a little bit of playwriting, a little bit of this, a little bit of workshopping, and I’m always like, “What do you mean you don’t want to be here?” MIKE: I know, and that was really baffling at the beginning. I was like, “Why are you in this class then? There are so many other things for you to take.” You know, a lot of them suck it out. I think, by the end of the year, I always say to them, “If you can be a little bit more confident leaving this classroom, then I did my job.” That’s really what I focus on when I get a student that really doesn’t love theatre the way I do. LINDSAY: Absolutely, eh? That’s really the thing. There are a multitude of skills – if they choose to – that they can take away from the class. MIKE: Right. LINDSAY: We’re here today because we’re talking about that you have had a very specific experience with your advanced drama class which I think is an awesome thing to talk about. You used one of our plays which is awesome – The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note. The link is in the description. You took your advanced class and you toured with a show. Talk about that decision first. How did that come into play? MIKE: I guess, to back up a little bit of my history at the school, I started, I had two classes. They were supposed to be like a Level 1 and a Level 2. But, again, like I just spoke about, when I first came in, there was no real Level 1 or Level 2. It took me my first two years to kind of try to get that to a Level 1 and Level 2. Finally, at the end of last year, I was like, “I think we’re ready for a Level 3 at this point.” So, I named the class Theatre Production Workshop. It was kind of like my advanced theatre students and a lot of them wanted to pursue acting or go to school for it, so I wanted the first half of the year to be this audition unit – like, preparing for college auditions and stuff. But I also wanted it to be very production-oriented. That’s where the thought of doing a touring production came in. Also, I’d observed it in other districts when I was doing my teaching and saw the success that it was in those districts, so I really wanted to make that part of my program here at my high school as well. LINDSAY: If you’re talking about how you’re going to advance, you know, what is the pinnacle of theatre? Well, it’s performing. Touring is such a unique animal. MIKE: Yes, it was. LINDSAY: Yes, we’re going to talk about all these things. There’s so many moving parts and there’s so many different aspects. We’re going to go through them all. Let’s start with choosing the show. Did you choose the show? Did your students help you choose the show? What were your elements when you needed to choose the show to tour? MIKE: How did I choose the show? I started with an audition unit at the beginning of the year. I had them do monologues and so on and so forth, so I could see where my talent level was and what they felt comfortable with through the monologues they chose to perform and their work ethic through that entire audition unit process. And then, what I ended up doing was I gave the kids a survey which I took from the course that you guys offer on DTA. I adapted it. LINDSAY: Drama Teacher Academy, yes, very good – play survey. MIKE: I ended up taking that survey. I adapted it a little bit. I wanted to see which kids were interested in definitely performing in the show who wanted to take a production role in it, or who really wouldn’t mind doing both, or didn’t care either way what they wanted to do. I had 14 kids in the class. Most of them wanted to be in the show. I mean, there’s only 14 kids. That’s not a lot of kids, but I needed a lot of roles. So, I had started looking through DTA for that. And then, it was really important to me – especially because this was the first year that my high school students would feel very comfortable and confident with the material that they were producing and putting on, but also appropriate for the audiences that we were going to be performing for. With my supervisor, we decided that the 8th grade students in our district would be the best audience for us. And so, I knew we would have an 8th audience. I knew we’d have high school actors. When I came upon Bright Blue, I just felt like it was the perfect relevant play that both audience and actors were going to enjoy watching and performing. LINDSAY: I’ll bet too, not only did you have to think about who is your audience and who are your actors but the transportation aspect – you know, the set. You can’t have a big beautiful set in a touring show. MIKE: Yeah, definitely not. I knew it had to be simple and I’m not the best techie drama teacher either, so I knew that what we needed to work with tech-wise and set-wise needed to be fairly simple. And so, reading Bright Blue, I knew we could do that with boxes and we could do that with tables and little props and things here and there. Also, I knew everything had to go on a big yellow school bus to get us around, too – with all of us on it. Yeah, that definitely played into what we could produce. LINDSAY: I spent six years in touring theatre – some children’s theatre, some other theatre. Year one, we had all these ideas about how “oh, sure, we can do everything
27 minutes | Jun 25, 2018
Facilitating a student led production
Episode 210: A Facilitating a student led production Have you ever sat back and let your students take control of a play? How do you let students learn from the struggles throughout the process, rather than making the decisions for them? Drama teacher Saran Hankins shares her experience facilitating a student driven production. Show Notes Shuddersome The Myths at the Edge of the World Drama Teacher Academy Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 210, and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode210. Today, we’re talking about student-driven work. Have you ever sat back and let your students take control of a play? Now, how does that make you feel? Does that make you feel excited, nervous, nauseous? How do you let students learn from the struggles that they’ll find throughout the production process rather than making the decisions for them? That’s exactly what our guest did with a recent production of Shuddersome, and it is a great conversation, so let’s get to it! I’ll see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everyone! Thank you for joining us! I am here with Sarah Hankins. Hello, Sarah! SARAH: Hello! LINDSAY: So, first of all, please tell everybody where in the world you are right now. SARAH: I am at Clinton High School in Clinton, Mississippi. LINDSAY: Nice, very nice, and how long have you been at your school? SARAH: This is my third year teaching at Clinton High School. LINDSAY: Oh, and how long have you been a drama teacher? SARAH: This is my seventh year. I’m about to finish up my seventh year. LINDSAY: Very good. Okay. So, seven years in, what is the thing that keeps you teaching? SARAH: Honestly, the students because they change so much, and you just get to build these relationships with them that, you know, your normal classroom teachers don’t have. So, they honestly keep me coming back, day after day. LINDSAY: Awesome. Well, that’s good. It’s good to have something that keeps you coming back. I know that’s not the case for everybody. What was it that made you want to go into teaching and being a drama teacher? SARAH: Well, funny thing is – and I just shared this story with students earlier – I actually swore I would never become a school teacher. And then, it just kind of hit me that I would be missing something, and my life wouldn’t be as fulfilled if I weren’t a school teacher. But my mom is a 36-year veteran of public schools in Mississippi. She retired a couple of years ago. And then, my grandmother was also a teacher, and my sister is also a teacher. So, I guess you could say it runs in our blood. LINDSAY: Oh, man! I can totally see it, though! Surrounded by teachers and go, “This is not for me.” SARAH: Yeah. But, as far as theatre goes, when I was in ninth grade, I did a little bit of theatre here and there – at my church or in my school – but we had a community theatre called Brickstreet Players, and they needed a backstage hand and they asked me – this pipsqueak of a ninth grader to do that – and I got in and I met some wonderful people. And then, I met my mentor, and it just worked out where I found my passion. And so, I’m able to utilize that passion. I was given the opportunity to teach theatre and it’s been a journey ever since. LINDSAY: Awesome! What’s the most memorable thing that your mentor has ever said to you? SARAH: Oh, gosh! Probably that theatre can be summed up in one word, and that is “reaction” and that’s really what life is. It’s reacting to everything that’s around you because you’re not just one person. And so, that really helped open my eyes and helped me to start discovering who I was as a person. And then, in turns, accepting who I am as a person. LINDSAY: That’s awesome. I like that. I think that that’s the best thing that we can actually teach students onstage because, like, how many times have we seen, oh, kids are doing a scene and it’s just by rote. It’s like they’re saying, “Here’s my line. Oh, now, it’s not time to say my line. Oh, now, it’s time to move here!” as opposed to being in the moment and actually reacting to what someone is giving you. SARAH: Absolutely. LINDSAY: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Oh, that’s perfect! Wow! I’m so glad we went down that path and I got to ask that question. SARAH: I love it! LINDSAY: We’re here to talk about a production of Shuddersome. I know about this – and this is why you’re here – because you have some beautiful pictures. SARAH: Thank you! LINDSAY: When I asked you about it, you said, actually, that your job for the show was to facilitate because it was mostly a student-led production. SARAH: Yeah, it was. It was an experience. LINDSAY: Ah! Well, let’s talk about that. That’s what we’re going to talk about. Let’s talk about that experience. First of all, did your students choose the play? Did you choose the play? Did you know you were going to have a student-led experience from the very beginning? What was the beginning like? SARAH: Initially, not. This group of students, most of them are seniors now. I was able last year to start an audition to competition class at the high school. And so, initially starting, I love it when students are able to do hands-on things, but you never really know, depending on what students you have. But this particular group of students that were starting this endeavor, they had done a lot of comedy. And so, I like to challenge students, so we started looking at some more dramatic pieces. We read several plays and we just came across Shuddersome and it just kind of fit. They love Edgar Allan Poe and we liked that, you know, there were so many different ways you could take it and go with it. And so, we had settled on that. It was kind of a mutual decision, settling on Shuddersome. But then, as far as the student-led aspect of it, when we read it, they started coming up with all of these different ideas of what to do. You know, we kind of put it to bed, and then we had summertime. And then, we came back, and they had come up with even more ideas as we read it again to make sure that that was the show we wanted to work on. And so, you know, it was kind of organic – them taking control. LINDSAY: That’s kind of exciting. Yeah, that’s kind of exciting that they were the ones who had ideas. How was that for you when you realized that that was happening and that your best step would be to actually step away and let them take it over? What was that like for you? SARAH: It was hard. It was exciting because I haven’t had a group of students be able to do that. It was hard in the fact that – and my students and I joke about this – we all have problems delegating, but it was great to know that the last two years, because a lot of these students are seniors, like I said – but the last two years, they actually retained some of the things that I’ve imparted, or they even noticed things that I as a teacher might not have known. “Hey! They’re actually watching and learning.” I mean, it was nerve-racking. But, at the same time, it was just exhilarating, too. LINDSAY: That’s awesome. I like that. Well, it’s good. Everything should be a little bit of terror and a little bit of excitement. SARAH: Exactly! LINDSAY: So, if you’re just facilitating, you’re watching this happen, how did they divide up the directing piece? Did they direct each other? Did they decide who was going to direct each piece? Each scene? How did they do that? SARAH: So, my job as a facilitator, I ended up being the – and I’m doing air quotes here – the “director” but then, as they were going throughout the scenes, as they were blocking the scenes, thy would come up with their own blocking or they would suggest this, or one would say, “Hey! Let’s do this!” And so, we would sit, and I would watch to see if it works. And then, it magically worked. So, I was the facilitator, the director, but really not the director because I was just there to see if it worked and to share my experience because Poe is deep. LINDSAY: And dense! SARAH: I know! And he’s creepy and weird and wonderful and he’s bringing so many life experiences that some of these kids – thank goodness – haven’t experienced. And so, you know, I was able to help with that a little bit, too. But we’ve just played well off of each other. LINDSAY: You know what? I really like that framework and I think it’s something good to sort of recap, particularly for anybody listening who is thinking about having student-led work for the first time, if you’re acting as not a director but an outside eye and a shaper. They’re the ones coming up with the ideas and then you’re the one saying, “Oh, that works great!” or “That doesn’t quite work. Try something else.” SARAH: Or “Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.” LINDSAY: Was it hard when it didn’t work to not give them the option? Did you end up doing that? SARAH: Well, in life, you fail, and that’s one thing that I like to teach my kids – that sometimes, what you try is not going to work. But what happened is, when they were in synch, when it didn’t work, you know, sometimes, “Okay, that didn’t work. Well, let’s try it this way.” or “Let’s try it this way!” or “Hey! That almost worked, so maybe that didn’t work, so let’s take what did work and utilize it and come up with another way to do it.” And so, it was hard, yes. But, once again, it just proved how well these students could work together as a group. LINDSAY: I think that’s probably pretty key, too, if you’re thinking about doing this – to really sort of not analyze your group but certainly assess your group who’s coming in an
32 minutes | Jun 11, 2018
Page to Stage: What can you learn in 48 hours?
Episode 209: Page to Stage: What can you learn in 48 hours? What can you learn when you put up a show from page to stage in 48 hours? Teacher and playwright Scott Giessler shares his experience. If you want your students to have an immediate lesson in problem solving this is the conversation for you! Show Notes Life, Off Book Finishing Sentences Oddball Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! Here is the question of the episode: “What can you learn when you put up a play in 48 hours?” I’m just going to let that resonate with you. Play to stage in just two days – not two months, not a year – two days! So, this 48-hour play project, that’s what our guest did today with his students, and he’s going to share his experience with this great project, this great problem-solving project. Aha! Everything is a learning experience. Now, I have to warn you, the sound may be a little wonky. When we recorded it, there was bad weather on my end, bad weather on his end, so that’s what I’m blaming it on – weather! But what Scott has to say is so lovely. Oh, I really love this conversation, so hang in there. I’m going to hang in there. You do it, too. All right? Let’s do it. LINDSAY: Hello everybody! I am here, talking to Scott Giessler. Hello, Scott! SCOTT: Hello! LINDSAY: So, tell everybody where in the world you are. SCOTT: I am calling from very cold, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. LINDSAY: I hear you. I feel you. I’m hoping that, when this goes up, maybe it won’t be so cold, but you never know! SCOTT: Yeah. LINDSAY: Scott, you are a teacher and playwright, so let’s just start with the teacher first. How long have you been a drama teacher? SCOTT: I’ve been doing it for 17 years, and it’s been a pretty steady job at that. I started in 2001 and I’ve been just working at it ever since. LINDSAY: What made you want to get into the teaching aspect? SCOTT: Okay. Well, I had another life before this where I was working in the commercial sector because I went to college and I wanted to be a screenwriter. After I left college, I went through several different jobs in the commercial sector, just in the entertainment biz – both in Boston. Then, I moved to LA and did a little work there. There was just a point where I started to realize that there was kind of that big, empty hole in my life of, you know, these jobs are interesting on some level, but I couldn’t care any less about them. And then, it all came to a head when I’d gotten laid off at a job and I just couldn’t imagine applying for any other jobs that were available. My wife and I sat down and sort of talked about it. We developed a plan to move back east to New Hampshire where I’d spent a lot of my summers. When I got here, as it turned out, the local high school was looking for a theatre teacher. So, things really kind of magically came together for me, all in the summer of 2001, and they hired me on a wing and a prayer because I had no credentials at the time. Eventually, you know, it started off as just sort of a stipend job when I was a study hall monitor, and I think I taught a theatre class in middle school while I was getting my certification. Eventually, they hired me on full-time at the high school. LINDSAY: And now, it’s 17 years later. SCOTT: It is! LINDSAY: Okay. SCOTT: Unbelievably, yeah! LINDSAY: It’s very frightening how time just sort of magically melts, isn’t it? SCOTT: Lindsay, you ain’t kidding. LINDSAY: And, the older I get, the faster it melts. SCOTT: Yes. LINDSAY: So, that’s how you got into it. 17 years later, why is this the job that stuck? Why are you still in it all this time later? SCOTT: Man, well, you know, I’ll tell you, I’m not really certain. I will tell you that, having done the job for so long now, I meet a lot of teachers that do it for a couple of years, then they do something else. I think I’ve been sort of asking myself the same question. I don’t know if I’m the exception to the rule, but certainly around me that seems to be the case. I think it’s just that it’s never stopped being exciting and challenging, and it’s probably as simple as that. It’s still meaningful to me. I don’t ever dread doing the work. I don’t ever feel like, “Okay, here comes another show.” I’m always excited to get started and create, so that’s probably the sign that just says, “You know, stick with it.” I still feel like one of my biggest fears is someone might come in and tell me, “Hey, Scott. We don’t want you to do this job anymore.” Whenever that wears off, it might be time for me to get out, but it hasn’t. LINDSAY: That’s a lovely feeling – well, to love what you do, right? SCOTT: Exactly. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what it is that keeps me fresh on it, but I think, you know, part of it is that every show brings on a whole new set of challenges. No two shows are ever exactly alike, so you never feel like you’re doing the same job over and over again. LINDSAY: Yes, new kids, new shows, and you can’t repeat yourself, can you? What you did for Group A is just not going to work for Group B. SCOTT: Exactly. You know, that was brought into me in Sharper Leap because I’m – finally, for the first time in my entire career – I’m repeating a show. I, up until this point, had made a very strong point of not doing that. And then, the students came to me and said, “You know, we really want to do this show.” I thought, “Well, I haven’t repeated one yet, so that ought to be an interesting experiment,” and it is. It’s a whole new set of variables. Yeah, there’s a lot of things I can call on to sort of say, “Oh, yeah, this worked, and this didn’t,” but, you know, it’s a lot of years later and, you know, so much has changed with students – student life, the building we work in, technology and all that. It is still a very fresh project. LINDSAY: Awesome. Before we get into our topic of today, I also want to make sure everyone knows that Scott is a playwright – and a Theatrefolk playwright! We have one of his plays already in our catalog called Finishing Sentences. That’ll be in the show notes. By the time this goes out, there will be a second play by Mr. Giessler in our – what’s it called? – catalog. It’s called Life, Off Book. What was it like? I’m really excited about getting Life, Off Book out there because it’s an animal, right? SCOTT: Yeah. LINDSAY: Just with the story and the use of movement. Did you direct the first production? SCOTT: I did, yes. LINDSAY: And what was that? Where did the idea come for Life, Off Book and what was it like bringing it to your students? SCOTT: Well, this is kind of an interesting situation because there were components of it that I had been sort of chewing on for years. The show heavily relies – I wouldn’t say relies on but makes use of analogy. You know, they use, first of all, it uses the elements of the three-act structure in and of itself meaning that the narrators point out how the three-act structure works and then guides you through the story, sort of making references back to it. That had been an idea that I had been chewing on for a lot of years because I teach scriptwriting to students and, when you find that you’re repeating concepts over and over again, they start to get jammed in your own head, sort of like a bad song. But there was just this thought of “How can we use the three-act structure as its own narrative in the story?” but it started to branch out. And so, I started to explore. “How is love or other concepts like a symphony?” and so, we started looking at music as it relates to other elements of life. Then, we thought, “Okay, well, let’s go for the trifecta here,” and so we started to look at building analogy through dance. The third one kind of was the analogy that I started looking at after the writing began. The students were really interested in working with some original material – again, something they could mold, they could shape. And so, I wrote a first draft, they read it, they gave me a lot of feedback. “We like this, we don’t like this.” I went back, wrote some more. We improvised some situations. Wrote some more until we finally got where we needed to be. It ended up being a really great project because it was the first time I think that we had ever handled the subject of a gay romance in our program so deliberately. I think, maybe, you could make arguments that there were previous shows that may have done that, but this was the first one that was sort of deliberate, and it felt really right because it hit home with a lot of our actors. And, at the same time, it didn’t bludgeon anybody over the head, and I think the thing that I’m most proud of with the script is that it treated the romance between the two boys like any other romance. You know, we didn’t want to get out there and say, “Hey! Let’s suddenly…” I mean, not that it’s not worth exploring, but we didn’t want to get too deep into the homophobia of things. Instead, we wanted to deal with the relationships of the people themselves and how they handled it. LINDSAY: Well, they’re also human. Those guys, those characters are very human. They are so far stereotypes. Scott, I cannot tell you how many plays I read where the characters just come across and I’m like, “I don’t even want to talk about this because it’s just so, so blatantly… it’s just written so wrong.” It’s so wrong. SCOTT: Yeah, it didn’t want to be preachy. We were trying to keep it from being preachy. LINDSAY: Well, just like, humans going through problems, trying to figure them out. It doesn’t matter if they’re gay. It doesn’t matter if they’re Ophelia and she’s a little high-strung, let’s say. You
37 minutes | May 28, 2018
Production Case Study: You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
Episode 208: Production Case Study: You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown Bekah Schneider is a teacher in South Korea and there was a lot to overcome with this production: students not knowing the source material, fear of failure, and doing choreography by Skype. After all that this was her best production experience in 20 years. Listen in to learn why! Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy Click the photo below to see more from the show! Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 208, and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode208. Today, we’ve got a production case study. Oh, production case studies are some of my favorite, favorite episodes. I hope you like them, too! I hope you like them, but I like them because I love learning the how and the why behind a production, and this particular conversation is a real treat. We’re talking musicals today – one particular musical – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Our guest today had quite the experience with the show. Little teaser for you! Let’s find out why! I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everybody! Welcome to the podcast! I am talking with Bekah Schneider. Hello, Bekah! BEKAH: Hey there! LINDSAY: First of all, tell everyone where in the world you are. You’re in an extra special place. BEKAH: I am in Suwon, South Korea. LINDSAY: This is pretty awesome because I’m doing this recording which will mean nothing to you much later in the time when this gets posted, but it’s a Thursday night, and where you are, it’s a Friday morning. BEKAH: Yes, it’s true. It’s very fun. LINDSAY: Yes, I’m sure it is. It must be hilarious when you’re trying to communicate home, you know? BEKAH: Yes. Yes, exactly. LINDSAY: How long have you been a drama teacher? BEKAH: I have been a drama teacher officially in school systems, this is year seven. LINDSAY: Were you an unofficial drama teacher? BEKAH: Yeah. Actually, you know, I was a professional actress growing up and I did work in our state and traveled with our state. And then, I was a creative director at the church and did acting classes for students outside of that. I didn’t step into formal classroom education until much later in life, but it’s been very fun. LINDSAY: What made you want to step into the classroom? BEKAH: I loved what I did working with children, but I knew the influence of working with children would be greater if I had kind of a steady stream of students and classes. I am a single parent. And so, from a work perspective, teaching was something that I was passionate about already with the schedule and then working with children, and it just kind of all fit together. I get to do what I want to do which is drama. And so, I love it. I absolutely love it. LINDSAY: How did you end up in Korea? BEKAH: Ah! Now, that is a story! My brother actually moved to Korea twenty years ago and has been in the international school scene. There’s quite a large community. In fact, even with our DTA community, there’s many of us from all over the world. And so, he had been over here for twenty years and called me and said, “There’s a job and you should apply.” I said, “No, I’m super happy.” He’s my older brother, so he kind of bullied me and harassed me into at least looking at it. And then, I applied confident that I would never get the job and confident that we would never move and, you know, we did. So, we’ve been overseas for three years now. It’s been really fun. We really felt like just the series of events that orchestrated us over here were pretty phenomenal and really unexpected. It wasn’t something we were looking for, but I’m so glad we’re here. LINDSAY: What’s the makeup of the students that you teach? Is it international? Is it American? Is it Korean? BEKAH: Yeah, this is an international school, but many of the Korean international schools will tell you that they are ethnically mostly Korean. I would say we are probably – I think the last count was 80 percent Korean students, and those students hold passports from other countries. They have lived abroad in America or Canada. We have also Chinese and Japanese students and a strong Indian population. The company where I am is Samsung. And so, of course, as they bring in employees, their employees can then send their children to the international school. I teach six through twelve. In our six through twelve school entirely, we’re at about 210 students. It’s a smaller school that way, but they’re really amazing, amazing students – just the kind you dream of working with truly. LINDSAY: That’s so awesome! I was going to say, if they were mostly Korean, you must be dealing with English as a second language, but it kind of sounds like they’re well-traveled, so maybe that’s not an issue where you are. BEKAH: They are more travelled, but actually we do have an issue with English as a second language. That’s something that, in every step of my classroom, oftentimes, when they come into the international school, this is the first time they’re forced to speak in English all the time. If they had lived abroad, they might have lived abroad younger – you know, early childhood years where, at home, they’re speaking in their mother tongue. English is the expected language in every class and I’m amazed at how quickly they learn languages. I don’t have that gift. The students learn it. We struggle a lot with diction and enunciation and pronunciation. Words like “years” with a Y sound, they often will say “ears.” Instead of saying “years and years,” it’s “ears and ears.” We have to work through some of those issues and how to move the mouth as an actor in this language. The Korean language is very closed-mouth when you speak. Of course, speaking in English – and with theatre – is a very mouth-moving language. And so, it’s been really interesting to see that with our students. LINDSAY: Which leads us to a very interesting segue because what we’re actually going to talk about today is we’re doing a production case study. You, this fall, did You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. BEKAH: Yes! LINDSAY: Oh, there’s so many things to talk about in terms of just the singing of it and the choosing of it and the response of it. Let’s start with the choosing of it. Why did you choose this particular musical? BEKAH: When I came to the school, when I started here, they had only ever done junior versions of musicals which I think have a place for sure and are great, but I had wanted to begin developing the students, working toward a full-length production. And so, last year, we did a shorter musical. I knew this year we wanted to do a full-length musical. That was kind of step one. I didn’t want a junior. But, at the same time, I didn’t want my students to jump into 2.5 hours, you know, when they were at a 60-minute performance level. And so, what’s a good transition piece? The other challenge was the size of the cast. I felt like we had done a really big musical the year before – Snow White and the Prince – and that had 25 people in it plus cast and crew. It was huge for the school – for the size of the school. I have kind of committed to do a big show and a small show. Knowing that I needed to do a smaller show that wasn’t going to take them beyond what they could stretch to, I started looking at shows. I am a theatre teacher and I do love listening to my Broadway soundtracks at home all the time. So, I can’t help it. I do it and Charlie Brown was one that I’d been playing for about two years. I don’t even remember why I came across the soundtrack. I have heard of other schools doing t before, but I have never seen it. And so, I don’t know why I ended up with this soundtrack, but I did, and I loved it and I shared it with our music director here and asked her what she thought – if we thought we could do it. Our favorite thing that we’ve talked about with the show is that, when we listen to it, and we looked at it, we originally thought it was going to be so easy and wow! Those are words to live by! It didn’t end up being nearly as easy as we meant it to be for our students, but it was great. The other thing for me in consideration with every show that I pick is what an audience will come to. While our community, the students, and staff speak English, many and most of the audience will not or they will have limited English. And so, trying to find stories that they might have seen or have connected to or have a frame of reference for, that was part of it. And so, Charlie Brown, for a variety of reasons fit. You can go to the local 7-Eleven type stores here and see Snoopy-themed water bottles or juice boxes. You know, they kind of have a culture and Peanuts is over here and so it just kind of fit. LINDSAY: I’ve got to say, that was one of my questions. Would they connect to the story? The other thing I have to say is Book Report is my absolute favorite song of all time! I am not a singer but, if I was going to be in a show in a moment, I want to sing in Book Report. I just love it, and I’ve known the show. I actually have an original album which shows my age – a framed album in my bathroom. It will be in my bathroom. Now, I was going to ask you about your vision, but I’m kind of getting the impression that, really, the vision for your show is growing your students and growing their ability to connect to full-length musicals with the down-the-road goal of a big one. BEKAH: Yeah, exactly. Next year, we are doing a big one. We just got our rights to our show for next year which is Shrek. That’s a big show, so we’re very excited. My vision for the community – when I first got here, drama had not been do
28 minutes | May 14, 2018
A Fabulous Theatre Fundraiser
Episode 207: A Fabulous Theatre Fundraiser Don’t you want to learn more about a fabulous theatre fundraiser idea? Of course you do. Listen to drama teacher Alyssa Pitner talk about creating a haunted house with her students. Take notes now, implement in the fall! Show Notes Horror Movie 101 Shuddersome: Tales of Poe The Legend of Sleepy Hollow The Bottom of the Lake Frankenstein Among the Dead Frankenstein vs the Horrendous Goo Ashland Falls Close Encounters of the Undead Kind The Haunting of Chip Lake Lodge Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Oh, I hope you’re well. I hope you’re well! Are you okay? Maybe I’m not so okay. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 207. And you can find any links – there are a lot of links – any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode207. Today, we’re having a little chat about fundraising, specifically a fabulous theatre fundraising idea. Don’t you want to learn about a fabulous theatre fundraising idea that you could do? Of course! Our guest today has that fabulous theatre fundraising idea and it’s not just an idea. She implemented it. She implements it every year and she’s going to share it with all of you. So, get your pen and paper, get your phone out to take notes, listen in and get all the info, so it’s something that you can implement this fall. While we’re talking about the fall, if you are looking for the perfect play to produce around Halloween – yes, this all fits in with our talk today – I’m doing a little teaser. Make sure you click the show notes. We have so many great plays that delve into theatrical horror. Zombie makeup unit, anyone? Click the show notes at Theatrefolk.com/episode207. I’m going to share more news, more titles at the end. I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello! I am here talking to Alyssa Pitner. Hello, Alyssa! ALYSSA: Hi! LINDSAY: All right! Now, tell everyone where in the world you are right now. ALYSSA: I am in Queen Creek, Arizona, at Casteel High School. LINDSAY: Very cool. And the weather? Is it still warm there? ALYSSA: Oh, yeah. It’s not even really sweater weather yet. Oh, well. LINDSAY: Ah, too bad, too bad. ALYSSA: I know. I don’t have to shovel snow or scrape ice off my windshield. My life’s so hard. LINDSAY: And how long have you been a drama teacher? ALYSSA: I’ve been a drama teacher now for three years. LINDSAY: Oh, cool. ALYSSA: I’m a newbie, but… LINDSAY: You’re new. Let’s talk about that for a second. What made you want to become a teacher and specifically a drama teacher? ALYSSA: I wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid because I got some weird thrill when I was younger of grading my brother’s homework which I don’t get that thrill anymore as an actual teacher. But, when I was in high school, I had a theatre teacher who let me direct a one-act, and I fell in love. It was the coolest experience of my high school career, and I was like, “I want to do this forever!” and I realized I could. So, that’s what I’m doing. LINDSAY: I talk to a lot of people who start off in that performing track and then the love of teaching overtakes. Was it always teaching for you? ALYSSA: I love performing and I love performing in high school and I thought about pursuing it, but I wanted to be a teacher, so that’s where I stayed. LINDSAY: That’s good. We need people who actually love teaching and want to do it. So, that’s an actual good thing. So, you’ve been doing it for three years now. What is something that has surprised you about being a teacher? ALYSSA: Something that surprised me? The amount of paperwork is insane, sometimes. Like, IEP paperwork if I go for that kind of stuff. And how much – as a theatre teacher, especially – how much you have to overcommunicate things like rehearsal schedules, and where you’re going to be, and what time things are over, and do you need to bring food. It’s way more work than I ever thought my theatre teachers did. So, every time I see them now, I’m like, “God bless you! Thank you so much! You’re amazing!” That kind of stuff. I knew they did it, but I didn’t know how much we did. LINDSAY: That’s right! Thank your teachers, folks! Thank your teachers! Now, three years down the line, what’s the one thing that you love about teaching? ALYSSA: I love watching my kids perform. Their final performance scenes at the end of semester and watching them go through the rehearsal process I think is probably the most rewarding thing that we do because it’s like, “You’re doing it!” especially kids that didn’t think they could do it or didn’t think they could memorize all those lines. It’s really rewarding watching them do it, and they always do pretty well. So, it’s like, “You did it! You can do this!” So, that’s exciting. LINDSAY: It’s that whole growth thing, you know? They can actually get better at something! Who knew? ALYSSA: Yeah, they never know that they can, but they can. LINDSAY: We’re here today and we are talking fundraising and we’re talking about a very specific fundraising idea that you implement. I think that there is no better time of year than right before Christmas to talk about doing a haunted house. I think we’ve planned this perfectly. ALYSSA: Timing is everything! LINDSAY: As they say, timing is everything. But, why not? Actually, I think that any time is a good time to talk about a good fundraising idea and I just loved hearing the discussion about putting together this haunted house. I knew that I wanted to have you on and talk about it. So, let’s start from the very beginning. Why did you decide to do a haunted house? ALYSSA: It’s kind of a throwback, again, to my high school because my high school teacher did it in my senior year and it was really fun. It got a lot of people in and it was probably our biggest fundraiser of the year. I was like, “Why don’t we do that?” and I just kind of went for it. LINDSAY: Awesome! How long do you take to prepare to put on your haunted house? ALYSSA: We start preparing pretty soon after we get back from summer break – probably three to four weeks into school – not even gathering things but just brainstorming ideas and deciding who’s going to do what and that kind of stuff. But I always start pretty early. LINDSAY: Would you say you take a month, two months to plan everything from beginning to end? ALYSSA: Just about, yeah. LINDSAY: See, that’s good to know. ALYSSA: They do most of the planning. LINDSAY: That’s good, too! ALYSSA: It’s really great for me because, when I say they do the planning, it’s really that they do most of the planning. I just am there to approve. That’s kind of nice. LINDSAY: We have a comment that someone is suggesting that we’re doing a haunted house now. No, we’re not doing haunted houses now. We’re just talking about doing a haunted house now. You’re absolutely right, Anna! Doing a haunted house at Halloween, that’s exactly when you should do it. That’s the perfect time. We’re just talking about it. Alyssa did one back in October and we just have the time to talk about it now, so that’s why we’re talking about it now. Actually, I’m doing this as a podcast, and that’s going to come out later in the next year and it’ll make much more sense. Yes, it will. Okay. It takes about two months. What is the structure of your haunted house? Where does it take place? How long is it? What is the structure of putting it together? ALYSSA: We do ours in the science labs of our campus. The reason being is that there are tile floors so you can do fake blood everywhere and they each have two doors so it makes a really easy path through the haunted house because you can use both the doors and go through instead of having to turn around. We have about ten rooms. Total time through the haunted house is around ten minutes – unless my kids rush. Pacing this year was a slight issue, but it’s usually around ten minutes. LINDSAY: That’s pretty awesome. Was it hard to convince the science department to let you do this? ALYSSA: No, because my admin was pretty supportive, and their department chair was really supportive. I’m not sure that they were all super thrilled with the idea, but I work at a really supportive school which is lucky. The one thing that we need to do better is make sure that we’re not the same page of make sure your room doesn’t have anything in it that you don’t want kids to touch or see because there’s way more of them than they are of me. So, that was something that we probably should have communicated a little better because a few things got bumped around – papers that needed to be graded and a project got bumped and fell over. We should have just communicated better that stuff needs to be put away so that they stay supportive forever. But they were pretty on-board with it when I told them we’ll clean up and we’ll make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be when we leave. LINDSAY: That’s ten rooms plus students. When you talk about communication, what a huge communication project. Do you have students who volunteer for this? Or is this a class that puts it together? ALYSSA: No, it’s all volunteers. My drama club officers are the ones that plan everything and then my drama club students can participate and then I also open it up to kids in my drama and theatre arts classes. It’s really kind of like a free-for-all. If you want to participate, you sign up. We do a sign-up genius, so they can sign up for which room they want to be in. It’s fun, but it is a lot of kids, and we had over a hundred kids participate this year. LINDSAY: Going through? ALYSSA: No. LINDSAY: Or actually in the playing of it? ALYSSA: Yes. LINDSAY: Holy smokes! ALYSSA: It was nu
28 minutes | Apr 30, 2018
Monologue Competitions: How to compete confidently
Episode 206: Monologue Competitions: How to compete confidently How can you encourage your students to compete with confidence? Learn from the source! Student Kelsey Gilmore was chosen as critics choice for monologues and best in show in her district for her monologue performance. What did she do? How did she prepare? Show Notes All things monologue at theatrefolk.com Stressed Have You Heard Puzzle Pieces Myth-o-logues A Box of Puppies Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 206. You can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode206. Today, we’re talking monologues and, more specifically, monologue competitions. Do you take your students to monologue competitions? Do you have your students perform monologues in the classroom? How is it going for you? Going okay? Want to do better? How can you encourage your students to compete with confidence? Well, I think the best way is to learn from the source. We’re going to talk today to a student who has had great success this year in competition. If you are looking for monologues for your students, if you just can’t listen to the same monologues over and over and over again, we can help. We can help! We can help! All you’ve got to do is look in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode206. I’ve put a link in there to Theatrefolk’s monologue collections, monologue plays. We have a few! In our monologue books, all the monologues come from published plays, and it’s a one-stop shop to find those plays! Theatrefolk.com! Okay. I will see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everyone! I am here with Kelsey Gilmore. Hello, Kelsey! KELSEY: Hello! LINDSAY: First off, tell everybody where in the world you are right now. KELSEY: I am in Tallahassee, Florida. LINDSAY: Awesome! You are a senior, right? KELSEY: Yes, ma’am! LINDSAY: Excellent. The reason you are talking is that you did something very exciting last weekend at your district thespian festival. Not only were you chosen for critic’s choice for monologues, but you also won best in show. KELSEY: I did! LINDSAY: Congratulations! KELSEY: Thank you so much! LINDSAY: We’re just going to kind of talk to you about what you did to prepare for districts and what it’s like to compete and maybe some advice for some folks who are listening – our listeners, our teachers, and drama students. I know a lot of them have students who go into competition and are frustrated sometimes with competition. Let’s start off with some background. Have you competed at districts every year? KELSEY: I competed my sophomore and junior year. I didn’t do it in freshman year, though. LINDSAY: Do you remember what your first competition was like? I know it was a long time ago. KELSEY: It was very nerve-racking. There were so many people and so much talent. I was like, “Oh! Oh, wow! Wow! Okay… This is new! So many thespians in one place! That’s very cool!” LINDSAY: District run is pretty huge, too. So, I can imagine it was overwhelming. KELSEY: I actually won critic’s choice my first year, but that was for a large group musical. We didn’t win best in show, but it was a big feat for me to win critic’s choice with that musical number. LINDSAY: Did it change your perspective a little? You know, going into it and you see all the people and you see all the talent and you’re like, “I could never do that,” and then to be awarded. Did you go, “Maybe I can do this?” KELSEY: My freshman year or this year when I won best in show? LINDSAY: That first time. KELSEY: Oh, the first time, it still is like, “Wow! This is something completely far away!” But I’m doing it with a group of people. I’m not alone. It’s not something that’s so far away that can never be reached, but it’s still something that’s still a little bit hard to get to. LINDSAY: Yeah, for sure, for sure. This year, what process did you go through to decide what monologue you were going to do? KELSEY: I wanted something that just completely contrasted – in the way that I spoke, in my body language, and how I held myself. I wanted something that was a complete 180 from one another. I went about looking at abstract things and very serious pieces that could really connect to an audience. I wanted to make the judges feel – not even the judges, but the people in the audience, after I was finished, to be like, “Wow!” I felt it in the first one and – wow! – did I feel it in the second one. LINDSAY: Would you suggest that that’s something that is really important for students when they’re thinking about monologues? Like, what’s your objective with these monologues? KELSEY: Yes. What do you want people to think after you’re done? What do you want the impression to be after you walk off that stage? LINDSAY: I think that’s a really interesting point, particularly when it comes to competition because, when we think of theatre, the audience is an important part. I always tell students – and this is with playwriting, too – your audience I kind of your scene partner. Theatre doesn’t happen without an audience. I think sometimes that gets missed in competition. Students kind of get inside themselves as opposed to connecting and reacting to an audience. At thespians, there’s always an audience, isn’t there? KELSEY: I think that you feed off the audience. I don’t know if you know this – oh, you probably do, I’m so sorry! – when you’re standing and you’re doing a serious piece, you can feel in the audience, the people watching you, and they’re solely on you. They’re not wandering somewhere else, and there’s an air of “oh, my goodness!” When you’re doing a comedic piece, they’re looking at you, wanting you to do something funny, wanting you to make them laugh. It’s just you bounce off your audience. Whatever the feeling the audience is giving you, you work harder to get it. LINDSAY: Excellent. Yeah, I think that’s an excellent point. “How are you going to connect with an audience when you’re doing your competition piece?” So, what are the two pieces that you chose? KELSEY: I chose It Had to Be You by Renee Taylor and August Wilson’s Fences. LINDSAY: I know which one the drama is! What sparked you? What made you connect to those pieces? What was personal about those pieces? KELSEY: I read the play, It Had to Be You, some time in September. I just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the main character. She was just so quirky and just so weird. For someone who’s 19 or 20 years old, she was just so weird, and I loved her so much that I wanted to do something from that play. With Fences, I just loved the play as a whole. It’s just ridiculously amazing, and I just knew that I had to do something from Fences. LINDSAY: And you can already tell, when you’re talking about the physicality of these two characters, I imagine were vastly different. When you’re talking about the character in the first piece as weird, I can already see physical choices. I think you must have, when you got these two characters, not only did the pieces contrast, the characters contrast. KELSEY: Very! One grown woman talking to her husband, telling him, “How could you? I’ve been standing here with you!” and then the other one is about this girl, telling this boy about this play that she’s writing and this woman who is playing hide and go seek with her father. It’s just two different things. LINDSAY: When I adjudicate monologues, the hardest thing is when a student gets to the end and you realize that you didn’t know they changed pieces, you know? There was so little contrast and they didn’t give a little pause at the end. You’re like, “Oh, there was two monologues there!” It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s an important thing. It’s important to have that contrast. I think you’re so right. That is major when you’re looking at these characters and your pieces. How long did you rehearse your pieces? KELSEY: Truth be told, I was in five things this year for thespians, and I’m a senior so I was juggling work and all these scripts to learn and all this. So, I chose them in November. I looked at them throughout November, then I stopped for December. I did not pick them up again until Christmas break and the beginning of January. I really hustled them in those last three weeks because I had taken such a big break in December because of everything that was going on – with exams and learning my student director scenes. It was getting a lot, so I took that momentary pause, and I feel like that helped me because I wasn’t stressing out so much over these monologues that I had time to relax. When I came back to them, I really had the time to analyze them and go over them the way I wanted to. LINDSAY: When you came back to those monologues, those were the only things you were working on? KELSEY: Yes. LINDSAY: I think that’s a good point, too. Multitasking never works! KELSEY: It doesn’t. LINDSAY: Let’s say you had three weeks to work on these two monologues. What was your first step? What was the first thing that you did? KELSEY: I re-read the plays. LINDSAY: That’s very important! Read the plays, everybody! Read the plays! Read the whole play! What did you learn about your characters by reading the whole play and about reading aspects of the play that weren’t just the monologue? KELSEY: Well, there’s more to them than what you see in that short one-minute monologue that you see on that one page. With It Had to Be You, this girl has so many layers to her, she’s very sensitive and vulnerable. But, on the outside, all you just see is this happy-go-lucky girl who’s very crazy, but there’s so much more to her. It made the monologue because, the monologue, as a
33 minutes | Apr 16, 2018
Talking Tech Theatre Programs
Episode 205: Talking Tech Theatre Programs We’re talking tech theatre in the classroom. What’s the first thing you should buy to build your tech theatre program? How do you design a set when you don’t have a theatre program? These questions and more! Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 205 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode205. Today – oh, I was going for it, and then I pulled back. I pulled back! Oh, I pulled back! Ugh. Well, that happens sometimes. Today, we are talking tech theatre. If you are struggling with the tech side of things or you don’t have a tech background and you want this for your students, you want to provide this for your students, then this is the conversation for you. It is a great one! At the end, I’ll give you a little more information on where you can get some great tech units. I will see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everyone! Thanks for tuning in! I am here today with Dan Mellitz. Hello, Dan! DAN: Hi! LINDSAY: I like to start by asking, where in the world are you right now? DAN: Currently, I am in Barrington, Rhode Island, which is one of the many places I have been in the past ten years. But that’s where I am located right now. LINDSAY: Awesome! You gave two exams today. We’re talking tech today and we’re going to get into all about how you got to be where exactly you are right now in Rhode Island, but can you just share what you gave as their final exam? It was the advanced tech students who were making the thing, right? DAN: Their final exam was to build a tech table for our program since we currently don’t have one, so they had to team up in two teams and design separate ones and then come together and combine their designs to a final design. And then, together, they built their final design and had to go and make sure all the measurements were correct because they sit over the seats and then they had to make sure it was portable. They did a really good job. I think they need some tweaking. It’s gotten a little heavier than it probably should be. But right off the bat was a really good choice as a final project. LINDSAY: Well, not only is it an interesting choice as product, but it’s a practical kind of test for them to do and a sort of real-world test, huh? DAN: Yeah, I’ve done sometimes where it’s like you’re doing all this – you know, build a platform and build some stairs that you don’t really need because I have a million of them – and then you just take them apart and it seems like a waste. This is a very practical item. I’ve done ones where they’ve had to build backstage prop tables that are foldable. I like practical items because then I can use them, and they get to see them in action rather than just seeing them get thrown away. LINDSAY: I love that, and I know that people who are listening love that kind of thing, too. Another thing that I think you and I both know is that a lot of people listening are struggling with how on earth they teach tech. They don’t have tech backgrounds. They don’t have any access to tech. You know, we know lots of people who are putting on shows in their cafeteria. I know that you have got this great website of resource help called The Techie Green Room which everyone listening can find in the show notes. I kind of feel we’re totally simpatico and on the same page with helping teachers in any which way we can, right? DAN: Yeah, I think so. LINDSAY: I think that’s where you’re coming from, right? DAN: Yeah, I think it’s a really great place to be. I think there’s a lot of other resources out there, and I think I’m definitely not the only one, but I think I’m close to the only one that is dedicated directly just to the tech side of it because there’s so many programs – you know, there’s drama and tech and there’s a lot to weed through. I know, over the years that I’ve taught technical theatre, sometimes, you just need a direct access to the tech side of it. It’s hard to weed through everything when you’re on a clock and you need to find something quick. I think that was the goal. There’s so many size programs out there. Some have technical directors, some don’t have technical directors. Sometimes, it’s a drama teacher who’s doing everything. Sometimes, it’s a drama teacher hoping someone will help them with everything else. The resource is there just to help middle and high school primarily, but anyone really in the educational world to help them streamline that and maybe get some inspiration in a place that might be more streamlined than somewhere else. LINDSAY: Also, I think tech is one of those places. A lot of resources are written for people who already know. DAN: Yeah. LINDSAY: And there’s a language that they use and there’s lots of terminology that they use. Well, I’m one of those people, when you don’t have that knowledge and you don’t have the language or the terminology, you look at some of those sites you feel a little lost. DAN: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the reasons. I mean, mostly because I work in middle and high school, but you’re right. when you look at some of the resources that are really meant for college or above and you said you don’t know the language and it’s hard to find your way around it and really you just need to know maybe how to put a flat together or maybe how to do something really basic that you’re not going to be able to find in something that’s talking about hydraulics and all that kind of stuff. LINDSAY: For sure. Let’s back up just a little bit. DAN: Sure! LINDSAY: What was tech like for you in high school? Is that where you got interested? Was it a little bit later? What was it like for you? DAN: I actually started out as a performer in high school. I went all through high school as a performer at school shows, outside shows, community shows. And then, I went off to college to be a performer. Throughout that whole experience, I was still just better with the hands-on stuff. I liked how that was all coming about in college. I was really the only acting major that actually liked doing tech crew assignments, so I would get put in charge of a lot of them. Just over time, I really figured out that I didn’t want to be an actor. I wanted to be a tech student and my college was fortunate enough to let me join their brand-new tech program with all the freshmen instead of my acting senior class. At least that gave me one good positive step out the door before I jumped into the world by myself. LINDSAY: That’s interesting. It’s like, “Well, there’s your red light right there!” When you’re the only person who is actually enjoying the tech side. DAN: It’s a good omen to say I think that’s where I should be. LINDSAY: I was the exact same. I thought that I would be an actor, and I would die. Apparently, you don’t die for not acting. DAN: I still think I might die from not being in the theatre, but at least I’m somewhere. LINDSAY: Well, that’s the thing, eh? There’s so many different facets of a theatre life, and there’s so many different ways to get enjoyment out of theatre than the product. For me, and I think a lot of people in the education angle, finding joy in the process of theatre has been great for me – just to not put all the eggs in the basket of the show. DAN: Yeah. As most parents probably say, “There’s more jobs in tech theatre than there are as an actor.” My parents were definitely happy about that. LINDSAY: What part of tech do you think is your forte? DAN: You know, I think, probably the top would be construction just because that’s where it started. I think that, in order to make a living, you have to learn more, especially when you’re working with children’s theatres for the most part. You know, the more parts you can design, the more money you make. You know, over time, I learned to do lighting and sound. I never made it to costumes, but pretty much everything else I’ve sort of dabbled in. You know, you get a bigger paycheck and that’s great, so you keep going. I would say construction. And then, I just love sound. There’s a lot for me to still learn about sound, but I still love it. LINDSAY: Awesome. There’s so much for many people to learn about sound, you know. The mic game alone probably takes years to master. DAN: Yes, that’s the battle we are currently going after right now. LINDSAY: Good. Stay strong! Stay strong in that battle! You started as an actor. You trans—not transformed. You transformed into a tech guy! You transferred into the tech world. And then, you were in the professional world for a bit. DAN: I was! Right out the gate, well, my wife and I moved to Connecticut, back to where I grew up, and I took on a lot of just random children’s theatre gigs because they were often the easiest ones to get into as a brand-new designer. I did a lot of children’s theatre. I got a job as the tour manager for the Connecticut Opera’s program. Unfortunately, a lot of the programs in Connecticut were hit hard by the recession, so a lot of them closed while I was there. You know, it was really just starting off as children’s theatre and community theatre all over the state, mostly just trying to make a living, but also just being able to try everything, and I think being able to try all those different places allowed me to then try all of the different things – like designing lights and stuff because there were smaller programs or smaller companies that were okay with me learning at the same time I was working. I think it was a really good way to go through the children’s theatre. You know what? It was my first chance working with children in t
34 minutes | Apr 2, 2018
When a Play Goes Wrong
Episode 204: When a Play Goes Wrong Have you been there? The cast is fighting, no one knows their lines, maybe the flu has swept through the entire school. There are times when opening night is approaching and you are sure you won’t be ready. Drama Teacher Lea Marshall shares her experience with the play that went wrong, what she learned and what she’ll change for next time. In educational theatre, EVERYTHING is a learning experience! Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy Poster: It's Fun to Do the Impossible Poster: The Show Will Open Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. Hello! I’m Lindsay Price. Hello again! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 204 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode204. Today, our guest today, she is a treasure. She is a treat. She is an amazing resource, and I am always so happy, I am pleased as punch, I am over the moon when she finds time to talk to us, and this is a topic I know everyone has experience with, everyone will want to listen in on, and I know that you have been there. You’ve been there! The cast is fighting. No one knows their lines. Maybe the flu has swept through your entire school. There are times when opening night is approaching, and you are sure you won’t be ready. Maybe you don’t even want to be ready. Maybe you just want to walk away from this play altogether. Drama teacher Lea Marshall is going share her experience with the play that went wrong, and what she learned, and what she’s going to change for next time because, in educational theatre, everything is a learning experience, right? Right! Okay. I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! Welcome to the podcast! I am here talking to Lea Marshall. Hello, Lea! LEA: Hello! LINDSAY: Tell everybody where you are in the world right now. LEA: I am in North Carolina because I am on break – Thanksgiving break. We got a week this year. I’m sorry. I’m sorry to all of you that did not get a week. We probably won’t next year, so I won’t gloat too much. I’m in North Carolina, though. I’m usually in Tallahassee, Florida, where I live and teach, but I am in Black Mountain, North Carolina. It’s really beautiful here. I’d show you more, but this is the outside of our little Airbnb. My three kids are inside – two of them are in college, and they’re actually doing homework. So, I stepped outside in 23 layers. I swear, it’s like 50 degrees, but I’m in 23 layers. LINDSAY: Yes, nobody has any sympathy because (a) you have an entire week off – although, when we post this, it’ll be March or something, so Thanksgiving means nothing – and (b) you’re usually in Florida where it’s warm. LEA: Yes. LINDSAY: You have just completed a production of Steel Magnolias. LEA: Yes. LINDSAY: And what you would like to say, because we’ve had conversations before about other productions. Are you sitting in yoga pants? Are you done with the show? LEA: In my yoga pants. The funniest story is that we did the post-production for To Kill a Mockingbird last time and I was in my yoga pants on the couch. In the middle of production – like, the bad three weeks, the last couple of weeks of it – I re-listened to that only because I needed to remind myself that, one day, again, I would sit on my couch in yoga pants and sound that calm and happy. I want to be back in that space where I remembered how it felt to be done. And so, I listened to that. I was like, “Oh, I need to record another one so that, next time, I can listen to both of them, and remember how it felt to be done – how good it felt.” It will happen. You will, at some point, be done. LINDSAY: That gets us right to what we’re talking about today which is what happens when your production becomes the play that goes wrong.
34 minutes | Mar 19, 2018
Drama: The Creative and Critical Process
Episode 203: The Creative and Critical Process The creative and critical analysis processes are defined parts of the arts curriculum in Ontario. Students learn the steps to help them acquire knowledge and skill in the arts and then develop their ability to craft an informed response to a work of art. Teacher Luke Bramer talks about his experience using the Creative and Critical process in his classroom. Show Notes Creative Process Creative Process: Reflecting on Original Theatrical Works Creative Process: From Page to Stage Monologue Creative Process 1 Monologue Creative Process 2 Monologue Creative Process 3 Critical Analysis Process Critical Analysis Process Worksheet Critical Analysis Process: Reflecting on Original Theatrical Works Theatrefolk Resources Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 203 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode203. Okay, folks. Today, there are handouts. There are samples, documents, visuals, if you so choose. If you’re in your car, please do not download said handouts, samples, documents, and visuals. But I wanted to let you know that they are available, and you can check out everything in the show notes which I just said but I don’t mind repeating. That’s Theatrefolk.com/episode203. We’re talking about a specific curriculum-based process that teachers in my home turf of Ontario, Canada, use, but it’s the kind of thing that we’re sharing. We’re talking about the creative process and the critical analysis process – each of which come with handy dandy graphs which, again, you can find in the show notes – unless you’re driving a car. Please do not download the graphs when driving. What is it? Don’t download? No download graphs. Do not download graphs while driving. No download while driving. Got it? Got it. We did this conversation first as a Facebook Live and now it’s here for you. Sit back, relax, and I’ll see you on the other side. LINDSAY: All right, everybody! Hello! Thank you for joining me! Today, I am talking to Luke Bramer. Hello, Luke! LUKE: Hello! How’s it going? LINDSAY: Ah, it’s going very well! We’ve recently moved, so we have nothing. It might be a little echo-y, but I think we’ll survive. We’ll survive. Luke, please tell everybody where in the world you are right now. LUKE: Sure. I am from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I work at Glendale Secondary School as part of the Hamilton-Wentworth District Schoolboard’s Audition-Based Program of the Arts. LINDSAY: Oh, Hamilton! In my head, you were in Toronto, but you’re actually even closer! LUKE: Yes. LINDSAY: That’s pretty awesome! Okay. How long have you been a teacher? LUKE: I’ve been a teacher for eight years. LINDSAY: And why are you a drama teacher? What was it that drew you to this path? LUKE: For sure. I went to the University of Windsor and took Drama and Education and got really excited about that but loved the theatre portions of it. And so, I did a lot of stage managing while I was there, and I feel like my drama class is now like a show every single day – you know, lots of things to manage. But I got into a program at Glendale specifically and they have a specialized program there, so I got to do a lot more of the theatre and education which is what I really enjoyed doing. LINDSAY: Ah, tell me why! Let’s get into why drama and education. I have friends to went to the performance side of Windsor. What was in specifically about teaching that really drew you? LUKE: I’ve always enjoyed the performance aspects, but actually getting students excited about stuff and actually getting to see them onstage taking over was really terrific. Being at Glendale,
31 minutes | Mar 5, 2018
Shakespeare on a Shoestring
Episode 202: Shakespeare on a Shoestring What does Shakespeare on a shoestring mean? It means no set, no elaborate costumes, all sound done onstage and life. Just like Shakespeare would have done in his day. If you’re looking for a doorway to Shakespeare, if you’re looking for a show to tour or take to a festival when you don’t have any tech at your disposal, then the shoestring philosophy will be right up your alley. Tune in to learn more! Show Notes Shakespeare on a Shoestring: Cymbeline Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 202 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode202. Woot! Woot! I am thrilled to have this conversation that I can present to you and we are going to share a great concept. Well, I’m not going to share it. Our guest is going to share it. It’s all about Shakespeare on a Shoestring. Michael Calderone is who I’m talking to, and we have actually just published his play – Shakespeare on a Shoestring – Cymbeline! – here at Theatrefolk. So, we have the concept which turned into a play which turned into a published play, but we’re focusing on the concept – the concept about how we can do Shakespeare on a Shoestring and how you can do Shakespeare on a Shoestring. I am always, always, always up for a way to make Shakespeare accessible to students and to open that door to his work. So, let’s get to it! I’m going to see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everybody! I am here with Mike Calderone! Hello, Mike! MICHAEL: Hi there! LINDSAY: So, I like to start off by asking for you to share where you are in the world right now. MICHAEL: I am at the campus of Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut. LINDSAY: Awesome. And what do you do at Hopkins School? What do you do? MICHAEL: I am one of two drama teachers here. I direct. I teach acting classes, drama classes, and public speaking. LINDSAY: Very awesome. Let’s talk about theatre experience first. When did you start really connecting to theatre? MICHAEL: I did not start connecting to theatre until freshman year of college. I was looking to go to a restaurant school for college, but didn’t have the money to do it, so I went to the local community college, found theatre, and from there I went to Rutgers University and became a Theatre Bachelor of Arts student. LINDSAY: Aha! So, it was sort of happenstance that you fell into it. MICHAEL: It really was. LINDSAY: Why did you stay with it? MICHAEL: Well, it was the love of the theatre. I guess I was always performing. I didn’t do anything in high school at all and I think that’s one of the most ironic things about this – about my career. It’s that I never did it in high school. It was in college that I found it and fell in love with it. Shortly thereafter, when I got into Rutgers, that’s when I fell in with the class that was the Shoestring Players which was an undergraduate performance company that spent a semester developing a show based on international folktales. I went to the audition, I got called back, and then I was not cast. But I went back as the percussionist which is basically the onstage live Foley artist punctuating the performance. With that job, that’s where I went from we were the first company to go to the Edinburgh Festival way back in 1989 and then performed with them professionally, started teaching with them, started directing with them. From there, when I was looking for a job to pay the bills, I started teaching. LINDSAY: Wow! You just segued right into our topic for today… brilliantly! MICHAEL: I listened to your last podcast! LINDSAY: I like a good segue, man! You know, it’s all about the ebb and flow. It’s all good. It’s all good! Yes,
33 minutes | Feb 19, 2018
Production Case Study: Annie
Episode 201: Production Case Study: Annie Where do you start with a play? How do you come up with a vision that spans across character development, light, sound, set, costuming? How do you execute on that vision? And then how do you put all that into an entertaining musical? Listen in to this production case study on the musical Annie. Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy The Myths at the Edge of the World The Perils of Modern Education Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 201 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode200. Today, I am talking to a dear friend here at Theatrefolk Global Headquarters, a man who wears many hats, for us and for others – Matt Webster. Matt has been in the classroom. He’s taught students to become drama teachers. He’s a playwright. For this podcast, we’re going to talk to him in his role as a director – specifically, what it’s like to direct the musical, Annie. It’s a production case study! So, let’s find out if the old adage is right that you should never work with animals and children. Let’s find out, shall we? See you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everybody! Lindsay Price here, and I am talking to Matt Webster. MATT: Hello everyone! LINDSAY: Now, usually, I ask where people are in the world, but we happen to be sitting right beside each other. MATT: Side by side in Cedar City, Utah. LINDSAY: But where do you usually hail from? MATT: I hail from Charlotte, North Carolina. LINDSAY: Very nice. We are here today. We’re doing a production case study. We’ve done a number of these and I really love being able to talk to folks about the process of putting on a production. We have so many people who listen. I have to put on many, many shows in a year. Some people don’t know where to start, right? MATT: Absolutely. LINDSAY: What show are we talking about? MATT: We are talking about the show “Annie, the Musical.” LINDSAY: Awesome. You didn’t do any Junior. You did the full-on Annie? MATT: We did the full-on Annie. LINDSAY: The first thing is this wasn’t your choice. You were hired to direct Annie. MATT: Yes, I was hired as a director for a local community theatre company and one of the reasons that they chose me was because I have a background in theatre for youth and working with children. they wanted to have children in the cast as orphans, including small children. That’s why I was offered the job. LINDSAY: So, what was the age range? MATT: I ended up casting a 5-year-old as the youngest who turned 6 during rehearsal which was one of my most brilliant things I have to say because she was adorable. But the range was from 6 to 60 is the cast range. LINDSAY: Awesome, awesome. Let’s start with your first steps in working on a show. One of the reasons I know that a lot of schools do Annie, but I know too that sometimes the teachers are in a position where they’re putting on shows that they might not necessarily like. I know a lot of teachers who are in the position where they know they have to do musicals, and musicals just aren’t their bag. As a director, what was your first step in approaching the script and the score? MATT: With Annie, there’s a really interesting challenge and that is we had to figure out which version we were using. The problem is that we were not allowed to get the script more than two months in advance or we’d have to pay extra. So, a script was found, but there are multiple versions of Annie. There’s the original version. There’s a rewrite in the 80’s and then a newer version. In addition, online, the choreographer and the music director and some of the actors who were cast looked at some of the music online and some of the scenes online and the...
32 minutes | Feb 5, 2018
The 48 Hour Play Project
Episode 200: The 48 Hour Play Project In this episode we talk to a middle school teacher who takes her students from script to production in 48 hours. How does she do it? How can you do it? Listen in to find out! It’s a mega mix of skills: creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 200. Woot! Woot! And you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode200. 200 episodes! Celebrate! Fireworks! I’m trying to say, “Fireworks!” Okay, 200, that’s a lot. I know it’s not a lot for some podcasts. Some of the podcasts I listen to, I think The Nerdist is closing in on a thousand episodes, but we are just chugging along here, doing our little thing, making our little recordings. The podcast is one of the things that gets mentioned to me time and time again by folks when I go to conferences. So, I just want to take a second to, again, say thank you. Thank you for listening! Today, we are talking about putting on a play as part of a speed round. 48 hours from getting the script to performance. That’s what our guest does with her middle schoolers. Let’s find out the what, the how, and the why, shall we? It is a mega-mix of creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. I’ll see you on the other side! LINDSAY: Hello everybody! I’m here with Angela Watkins. Hello, Angela! ANGELA: Hello, Lindsay! LINDSAY: Awesome! You sound like chipper, ready to go! Love it! ANGELA: Always. LINDSAY: Or you fake it really well, right? ANGELA: Yes! LINDSAY: Awesome. Okay, can you tell everybody where in the world you are right now? ANGELA: Where in the world I am right now is at the Telluride Middle/High School in Telluride, Colorado. It’s in the southwest mountains. It’s a beautiful little resort town that I’m lucky enough to get to teach at. LINDSAY: Awesome. Lovely. How long have you been a teacher? ANGELA: I’ve taught for about 25 years, but not formally in a school for that long. I’m going into my tenth-year teaching at a regular school and with a theatre curriculum. LINDSAY: Have you been teaching drama all this time? Or is it new? ANGELA: Yes, I’ve been teaching drama all this time. I initially founded a little theatre company here quite some time ago and my position was education and outreach. So, the school subcontracted me to do plays within the school. After – I don’t know – 15 years or so, I decided not to be in a theatre company anymore and just teach. That’s where this position came along. And so, I’ve taught, I’ve directed plays – you know, many, many hats. LINDSAY: Always, always, the drama teacher wears a gazillion hats. What is it about teaching drama that connects to you? ANGELA: Well, I guess, when I think about when I was young, what I enjoyed most about school was drama – the fact that so much can be learned in playing and pretending and role-playing and stuff. Every student, no matter who they are, can get something out of theatre, and some take it very seriously and go very far, but it can go in many directions and it’s so nice to give kids that don’t usually have those options some opportunity to try things or discover things. And I think that can happen in my classroom. LINDSAY: I think that, the more we get further into the 21st Century, I think drama is becoming – I know lots of people don’t think this but – it’s the most important class for all of those reasons that you just outlined. You know, they’re so worried about their marks and sometimes, they’re just so caught up in what’s happening that that chance to play is really important. ANGELA: I couldn’t agree more,
40 minutes | Jan 22, 2018
Shakespeare in the Rough
Episode 199: Shakespeare in the rough Have you ever thought about performing outside with your students? What’s it like to rehearse and perform Shakespeare outside? In this episode we talk to Hilo Community Players about their Kids Shakes production. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Show Notes Mmmbeth Theatrefolk Shakespeare category Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 199 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode199. So, we are talking about a couple of things today. First, Shakespeare. Two, environment. Oh, you like how I messed that up? First, two? Ah, I know some of you were probably paying attention. “Why did you say ‘first, two’?” Okay, okay, okay. First, Shakespeare. Second, environment. You got it. I know you got it. We’re all in this together, right? Right. When I’m talking about environment, I’m talking about, where is it that Shakespeare is performed? Have you ever thought of performing outside with your students? Your first reaction would be, could be, “No!” But hang on. What happens when you take away four walls and you have to deal with the elements and people who might just wander through? You might say, “Lindsay, you’re not selling it!” However, we’re going to talk today to some folks who love the experience. They love working with students and performing outside. We’re talking to some folks from a community theatre in Hawaii who put a Kids’ Shakespeare production every summer – outside. Just a note here before we continue on. There is a gaggle of us today – three in Hawaii and me. Things might get a little crowded. But, again, we’re going to deal with it, right? Ah, I knew you would. I knew you would. So, see you all on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! I am here, and I’ve got a bunch of people we’re talking to on this podcast today which is awesome. So, I want to say hello to Mimi and Cathy and Yvette. Hello, ladies! GUESTS: Aloha! LINDSAY: I always like for you guys to say where you’re from and you guys are in a very special place. Where are you? GUEST: We’re in Hilo, Hawaii. LINDSAY: Aloha! GUEST: On a big Hawaiian island in the beautiful coast of Hawaii. LINDSAY: Awesome. Are you guys locals? Or are you transplants? GUEST: I’m a transplant. GUEST: I’m a transplant. GUEST: I’m local. GUEST: I’ve been living in Hawaii for over twenty years. GUEST: And I’ve been here sixteen years, so I’m kind of local. LINDSAY: Kind of local. I think that anybody in a place over ten years, I know sometimes locals don’t feel that way, but I think any time over ten years, you get to claim status, I think. You’re residents. You guys sent some lovely pictures of a production of Mmmbeth – Allison Williams’ Mmmbeth. I just wanted to get you on a podcast to talk about it – talk about your process. You guys performed outside which I think is a unique experience and I’d like to hear about your successes and your struggles with dealing with some Shakespeare but outside. I think that’s pretty awesome. Let’s start with the choosing of the script. You did this for your Kids’ Shakespeare program, right? MIMI: Correct. Actually, a bit of background is the Hilo Community Players has been putting on Shakespeare in the park since 1978. So, this was our 40th year of putting on Shakespeare in the park. For the past four years, we’ve added to that Shakespeare in the park experience a Kids’ Shakes program. It’s a lighthearted sort of Shakespeare-themed show that gets put on using the same set as the main stage show and using the same space and everything but at a matinee time for a younger audience. LINDSAY: That leads me to my first question. We’ll get back to the show in a sec,
29 minutes | Jan 8, 2018
Going big with a production in China
Episode 198: Going Big with a production in China Kimberly Mack is an English Teacher in China at an International School. This past year she wanted to go “big” with her first year middle school speech class. And big they went! Listen in to her about her students experience putting on their musical, doing the set, sewing costumes, and singing in their non native language. Show Notes FAQ Link Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 198 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode198. Have you ever heard a teacher say, “My students could never do that”? It always shocks me a little. Now, granted, I am not a full-time teacher. I’m not a teacher. I’m not in the classroom. Perhaps, when a teacher says, “My students could never do that,” there is a good reason. But I have a very vivid memory from about ten years ago when I was at a school and they were working on one of my plays. I was talking to the students and I said, “You guys always seem really confident. You seem so confident onstage. That’s amazing.” One of the students said to me, “Well, our teacher believed in us. She never thought that we couldn’t do it. And so, we thought the same.” I just love that. When someone believes in you, that’s a very powerful feeling, isn’t it? Today, we’re talking to a teacher who had that same feeling and she wanted to go big with her group. Big meant putting on a musical with her middle school students at the international school where she worked. Let’s hear her story, shall we? See you on the other side. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! I am talking to Kimberly Mack today. Hello, Kimberly! KIMBERLY: Hi! LINDSAY: Now, I know, over the summer, that you are stateside, right? KIMBERLY: Yes, I am. LINDSAY: But tell everybody where you usually are during the year? KIMBERLY: I normally teach over in Lijiang which is in Yunnan province over in China. It’s down southwest. LINDSAY: That was an awesome pronunciation. KIMBERLY: I’ve been working on that. LINDSAY: Well, I’m sure you must have to say it quite a bit. Are you teaching in an international school? Or do you teach Chinese students? KIMBERLY: Yes, it’s an international school, but we have Chinese, Indian, Korean, and American students there. LINDSAY: What is it like? Let’s start with that. What is it like to have such a multicultural student base? KIMBERLY: It’s been really interesting. I went there right after college. It was my very first experience as a teacher. It was neat because, here we are getting to share the American culture with all of these students, teaching them English. Some of them would come into our school knowing absolutely nothing of English and we’ve got to start from the ground up and see them progress. It’s just been a really amazing opportunity. LINDSAY: All right. Now, that leads very naturally to my next question. How long have you been teaching? KIMBERLY: Two years. LINDSAY: What about teaching has been a surprise for you? KIMBERLY: I guess the biggest thing is how much these students are able to pick up so quickly, yet they’re reading these English words, but then they have no idea what the meanings are because they just don’t translate. Here, you’re having to tell not just the word but the meaning and explain these things that would be common words in America. LINDSAY: Cool. So, that’s the student experience. Now, what about your experience just being a teacher? What was your expectation of being a teacher and how has that played out? KIMBERLY: I’ve actually always wanted to be a teacher since my parents were both teachers for twenty-plus years. It’s been like a dream come true in a way.
30 minutes | Dec 11, 2017
Production Case Study: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Episode 197: Production Case Study: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tracy Garratt’s students wanted to be challenged and show what they could do. In this Production Case Study we’re talking Shakespeare. More specifically, student driven Shakespeare. Show Notes Drama Teacher Academy Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 197 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode197. Today, we are doing another production case study and we’re talking about Shakespeare – more specifically too, student-driven Shakespeare. Where do you start with Shakespeare? How do you get your students to make the decisions? Well, you should listen in if these are your questions. I think we might have some answers! Let’s find out together and let’s get to it. LINDSAY: Hello everyone! I am here, talking to Teacher Tracy Garratt today. Hello, Tracy! TRACY: Hi! How are you? LINDSAY: I’m wonderful. Let’s start. I like to let everybody know where in the world our guest is. So, where in the world are you? TRACY: I am in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. LINDSAY: Which is literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from me. We can’t quite wave to each other but it’s almost. TRACY: Almost, half an hour drive. LINDSAY: Half an hour away. We’re going to talk today about you recently did a production of our adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with some fabulous pictures which are going to be in the show notes. But, first of all, I want to just sort of talk to you. How long have you been a teacher? TRACY: This is my sixteenth-year teaching. LINDSAY: How is it for you sixteen years down the road? Are you still happy teaching? TRACY: I still love it. I still think that it’s the best choice that I’ve made in my life – other than having my son. Most days, I get up and think, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this,” and I have taken to saying to my kids, “You know, you have to find work where you get up and you wonder, ‘Are you stealing from your boss?’ because I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.” That’s my attitude. Thus far, I still feel that way. I’m still lucky. Of course, we have days that are not great but, most of the time, I don’t believe that I get paid for this. It’s crazy. LINDSAY: I sit around sometimes and there are some days where I am in my pajamas at noon and I’m like, “How did this happen that I have a job where this is happening?” It’s just wonderful, you know. What is it about teaching that that was the thing that you wanted to do? TRACY: I just love kids. I love being around kids. I love their energy. I love their positive aura, if you could say that. I love the fact that everything is new to them. They’re not afraid of making mistakes. I just think that kids are the best and they keep me young. So, I’m really appreciative of that, especially as I enter my fifties. LINDSAY: I would never know that. You always struck me as very young – no more than 30. TRACY: It’s the kids! LINDSAY: We are talking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream and taking a production from beginning to end. What has been your relationship with Shakespeare? I know students and teachers have a myriad of relationships with Mr. Shakespeare. TRACY: Well, you know, when I was in high school, I found Shakespeare kind of difficult. I found the language really hard to understand. You know, understanding the story is a bit of a challenge. I feel like there’s a rule, especially in North America, studying Shakespeare. Somebody’s decided in their infinite wisdom that we should be doing that. And so, in my younger days, I found it hard. But then, when I went to university and I took a course. I thought, “Oh, this is a little bit better now that I know and now that I und...
26 minutes | Nov 27, 2017
Theatre Program Fundraising Idea: Do your own coffee house
Episode 196: Fundraising idea: Do your own coffee house Listen in for the details of an awesome fundraiser event. Low cost, easy to plan, all you need is a space and your students. You too can fundraise for your program without losing your time or your mind! Show Notes Google form for Auditions Winter Coffee House Poster Spring Coffee House Poster Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 196 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode196. Today, we are going to talk about fundraising, specifically fundraising for your program without losing time or your mind because that’s the thing I think where fundraising can get into a real bumpy road. It’s the thing that everybody wants to do. But, if it just eats up your time and makes you go a little crazy, that’s not good for anybody. Our guest does a particular fundraiser twice a year and it’s very successful for her. It’s an awesome, low-cost, low-key event. I think, instead of me just talking about it, we should get to the conversation. Let’s get to it! LINDSAY: Hello, everyone! I am here talking with Ellen Miller. Hello, Ellen! ELLEN: Hello! How are you? LINDSAY: I’m awesome! Thank you so much! And you? How are you? ELLEN: I’m great! I’m fantastic! LINDSAY: Well, you can’t ask for more than that. That’s the best. I’d like to start by just asking if you would tell everybody where in the world you are situated right now? ELLEN: I am in Dallas, Texas. I teach in Plano which is just north of Dallas and I teach at a ninth through tenth grade high school in Plano. LINDSAY: Oh. So, you only deal with grade nines and tens? ELLEN: I do, yeah. It’s kind of a different situation in my city. LINDSAY: Yeah, what is that like? Do your students get drama in middle school? ELLEN: They do. We have theatre in sixth grade through, well, seventh grade and eighth grade at our middle schools and then the sixth graders can participate in the shows at the middle school level. In ninth and tenth grade, we have a full technical theatre course offering and theatre course offerings. I teach Technical Theatre I and II and Advanced Technical Theatre class. We have kind of a full range of offerings at our ninth and tenth grade level. LINDSAY: Yeah, that’s pretty awesome. And then, they go off to eleventh and twelfth. Do you miss not getting them in eleven and twelve or do you like where you are? ELLEN: I like where I am. You kind of get the best of both worlds. The sophomores still get to kind of take on a leadership position and you get to really see them grow over two years and then it’s cool because we do a lot with our eleventh and twelfth grade school. We call them senior highs here. It’s cool to see them grow in an even bigger theatre situation in the eleventh and twelfth grade. LINDSAY: I would imagine in that situation that leadership really is much different than if you’re in a nine through twelve school because, if you’re in grade ten, you are the senior of your school and you have to sort of – I don’t know if “mature” is the right word but you’re it! ELLEN: Yeah, I have ten officers for my theatre department and they do everything from running warmups during our rehearsals, they plan events for other students, they do the announcements for our school, and they do a lot of building community within our theatre department and things like that. LINDSAY: Well, I think that’s really awesome. How long have you been a drama teacher? ELLEN: This is my eighth-year teaching theatre. LINDSAY: What connects you to being a drama teacher? Did you like it in high school? ELLEN: Yeah, I actually started theatre in about fifth grade with a program we used to have called Odyssey of the M...
31 minutes | Nov 13, 2017
Drama Teachers! We’re talking rubrics
Episode 195: Drama Teachers! We’re talking rubrics Drama teacher Lindsay Johnson loves rubrics. And she wants you to love them too! Listen in to learn her process for creating assessments and making them effective for your classroom. Show Notes Theatrefolk Facebook Page Shreds and Patches Episode Transcript Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company. I’m Lindsay Price. Hello! I hope you're well. Thanks for listening! This is Episode 195 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode195. I’m excited. This is exciting. I know you’re excited because, today, we are talking about everyone’s favorite topic. I can’t even make it sound good. We’re talking assessment! Oh, an even better topic – rubrics! We should have a great big fanfare right there. Assessment and rubrics! I know, and you know, assessment is so tricky in the drama classroom when there are activities that are project-based and process-based and group-based. How do we make it all happen? Well, we’re here for you. we’ve got a guest today, a drama teacher who loves creating rubrics and she wants you to love them, too. So, let’s get to it! My guest is Lindsay Johnson. Hello, Lindsay! JOHNSON: Hello! PRICE: All right. Tell everybody where in the world you are situated right now. JOHNSON: I am in Minneapolis, Minnesota. PRICE: Awesome. JOHNSON: Teaching at South Minneapolis at a charter school, teaching middle school drama for seventh and eighth grade. PRICE: Awesome. How long have you been a teacher? JOHNSON: I’ve been teaching since 2009. PRICE: Math, everybody! For a while, awesome. JOHNSON: But I’ve only been teaching theatre for… This is my fourth year teaching theatre. PRICE: Was the plan to start something else and you ended up in drama? What was your path? JOHNSON: I started with Teach for America and I was placed in an English reading and writing environment. And so, I did that for the first five years or so. And then, I taught a year of social studies randomly because that’s what they needed at my school. And then, my principal asked what I wanted to teach, and I said drama. So, I’ve been doing that ever since and I’m the founding drama teacher and the only drama teacher in our entire network. PRICE: Oh, that could probably be a little bit lonely at times, I imagine. JOHNSON: Yeah, it is, that’s why I love DTA. PRICE: Ah! That’s awesome! DTA, of course, is the Drama Teacher Academy. So, what’s your drama background? What was drama like for you in high school and after that? JOHNSON: I actually really didn’t have a drama program at any school I attended. My drama background is completely in community theatre. I did a ton of community classes and then I was in a bunch of plays at our local community theatre all through school. In college, I didn’t actually get a degree in theatre, but I took every acting class available at my university for fun. Yeah, I’ve just been really involved in theatre all my life and I did drama club at a school when I was still teaching reading and writing and loved that. PRICE: So, when the call came, when someone asked you what you wanted to teach, why teach theatre? Why was that the thing that you wanted? JOHNSON: Yeah, I think drama has always been a huge passion of mine. It’s the first thing I really felt like I got and felt like I could do it really, really well from a young age. I mean, from my own perspective, of course. I really enjoyed it and I love acting and I love theatre. And so, the idea of getting to teach that and do that, I think all of my classes incorporated drama even though I wasn’t teaching drama. Even when I was teaching social studies, we were acting out all the wars and everything. It was just fun to make that the focus of my class. PRICE: Awesome. I love that.
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