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Help wanted: Educator-Advocates needed to support adoption of the National Core Theatre Standards

On June 4, the new web-based National Core Arts Standards were released during a streaming webinar in which nearly three thousand individuals participated. The standards in dance, media art, music, theatre, and visual arts are the result of three years of work by the National Coalition for Arts Standards. Seventy writers and NCCAS leadership reviewed thousands of comments by teachers, administrators, parents and other that we’re received as part three public reviews. The theatre standards were created cooperatively by the Educational Theatre Association and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Like the rest of the arts standards, they’re now a 24/7 resource that teachers can use to build curriculum and assessments to them help create better arts learning and opportunities for their students. But there’s one catch: National does not mean federal. The Core Arts Standards are voluntary—that is, the adoption of standards in any discipline is a state-based process and decision. You can certainly start using these standards to reflect your teaching and your students’ learning and perhaps do a crosswalk with your state’s existing standards to see how they align. But in order for these to be YOUR standards, your state will have to adopt them, either by administrative decree or through a legislative process. And having the standards become the law of the land is important because, as an educator, how you align with them can influence your ability to grow and shape your program and be a factor in your evaluation.

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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and

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For those of you haven't guessed, I am a 2014 graduate who has spent several years in his high school theatre

all of the tech rehearsals, fast food, and long hours of rehearsals have come to an end.

the questions start to become

Is the theatre is in good hands?
What are you going to do after you graduate?
Is this the end of your theatre career?
Will they remember me?

But I am here to tell you

When you take your last bow on that stage, it isn't just you there are other students who have been through that journey with you, they have 

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The Library section of the Theatre Education Community is what I like to consider a hidden gem. This area doesn't get nearly as much traffic as the discussions and blogs, but there is enormous potential.

Any type of finished product can be posted as a library entry. The best part is that it's not limited to Word Docs. You can post YouTube Videos, Power Point Presentations, audio files like sound effects, a series of photos, etc. Before I go into the "how-to's" check out some fantastic examples that already exist, like Matt Conover's entry here:

Social Media Workshop Deck & Video

Matt led a workshop at this year's Thespian Festival, then added his visuals to the Library so that workshop attendees could revisit the materials later and he could expand his message to anyone who wasn't able to attend his workshop.

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A reflection on some of my personal favorite experiences as an International Thespian Officer...

The 10 Greatest Joys of an ITO

1. Teaching students and adults. 
An an ITO, I had the privilege of traveling to state conferences to teach workshops on advocacy and leadership. My classes ranged anywhere from 1 attendee, to 148 attendees (Guess which workshop was at Thespian Festival?). Teaching at these festivals not only provided many other joys listed below, but also solidified my desire to pursue education as a lifelong career. 

2. Listening to your stories.
This is certainly something expected of us as student leaders! But along with everything else expected of us, it only becomes a tremendous joy as we work with Thespians across the nation. Hearing stories not only reminds us of memories we've had in our theatrical experience, but also motivates and empowers us to do our best for those telling the stories. These interactions are priceless- as without the stories (and the storytellers) we'd have nothing to represent or fight for. 
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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We plan to shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.

Our latest Spotlight Member is Barb Lachman, troupe director of Troupe 640 at Shorewood High School in Shoreline, WA. After serving for over 20 years as a troupe director at three different schools, Barb is planning to retire from teaching theatre this year. She plans to spend more time teaching English, serving as Department Head, and taking on some community theatre projects. I asked Barb to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about her.   

Photo via

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We are trying to put together a Bal Masque on Friday, Halloween night. As far as I know we've never done this at our small rural all-boy Catholic Benedictine high school and junior high with monks. I'd like the drama club to sponsor it and was considering just making it free on the fly this first time out of the gate. Thought first of a Haunted House or Hayride and I know the boys would love doing it but not sure how that would fly at our little Abbey and Academy. Has anyone ever done anything like this or have any suggestions. Oh, one other element, we have a full day called a "Renaissance Day" the day before in which teachers offer daylong activities outside the curriculum....I've offered stage combat and improv in the past but thought perhaps I could use this with the drama club to set up.
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Hello Thespians!

I have been lucky enough to have been attending the International Thespian Festival for three years in a row, and they just keep getting better! This year I'd have to say is my personal favorite because I just felt completely comfortable being surrounded by all of these gifted people while also being given so many different opportunities.

Monday afternoon truly kicked off my week of festival while I was participating in "An Evening with Shaiman and Wittman" as part of the extra kick right at the end of the opening event. It was amazing to have people from all over the country come in to dance and sing in unison without ever having met before. When we put it all together with the cast and crew, it felt truly amazing and possibly the best way to kick off festival for every single person there. 

The rest of my week had a similar format: Wake up at 6:30 am, attend leadership at 8:00 am, attend workshops (if possible), watch Main Stage shows, dance till curfew, sleep, and repeat (with minimal alterations each day of course). As monotonous as this may sound, it is still the best time I could ever have. Going to leadership, as early as it is, will always be a great experience because you're surrounded by 100+ thespians who not only are extremely passionate about theater, but are willing to take the next step to help with their thespian troupes and encourage participation. Being able to meet such dedicated thespians is mostly why I wanted to become an ITO.
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Hey guys!

I flew back home to Georgia from Thespian Conference on Sunday morning. It is now Thursday. I think this is enough time to get my thoughts together in order to put them into words. 

This was my first time at Festival. I had a few ideas of how wonderful it would be, but when I arrived I realized it surpassed anything I thought it would be. I got to meet wonderful aspiring actors and actresses, amazing techies, adults with patience I don't think I could attain even in a lifetime, and great young leaders. Though very different in size and shape, we all had one common interest; to further ourselves and others in the arts. Even those who don't want to be in the theater as a career STILL understand that this art is one that molds us into wonderful human beings. 

There has never been an environment in which I felt so understood and accepted like at Thespian Festival. The shows were SO IMPRESSIVE. I knew the talent was there. What I did NOT know was how AMAZING it was. Not just the MainStage shows, either. The chapter-select shows were astonishing. 
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Clothes packed? Check.
Days planned? Check.
Most amazing week of my life? Check.

Prior to Monday, June 23rd, Festival was one giant list. I had activities, workshops, and outfits planned--scripted. Now, it's all mixed together into my memory forever--unscripted.

Day 1: Long, tired bus ride after my alarm didn't go off, BUT things started to look up as I met met the current ITO, many STO's, and my fellow ITO candidates. That afternoon I handed out programs with the soon-to-be Region III rep, Rachel Gatewood, and attended Antigone (beautiful). Later, An Evening with Shaiman and Wittman. I was completely blown away by the humor of the two composers, and how they felt like one of us. An actual quote, "We were you in high school." How inspiring to a theater full of anxious Thespians.

Day 2: First morning of the Student Leadership Program! I was introduced as an ITO candidate and was placed in a group of fellow leaders. After some volunteering and time spent with a group of friends from another Iowan troupe, we started our night of "Paint the Town Red" with Mary Poppins. I am still having a hard time believing the girl who played Mary is only a SOPHOMORE! She has an amazing future. The musical took the audience in all directions (including upside down in a tap dance). That night the festival did a little dancing of its own at the hopping dance in the Student Union Ballroom. A great way to end the first full day of festival.
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To whom may read this, 
I have been trying to think of a clever way to start this post, but alas I can not think of any. But I will say that I am so so excited to start blogging this year! Being an International Thespian Officer is sure to take me on a lot of adventures and I can not wait to share them all with you(: But I guess we should begin with where it all began.

When I think of the International Thespian Festival, it reminds me of a blanket. At first, it takes a bit to get comfortable. But before you know it, you are wrapped and surrounded by comfort and security and you can't help but feel content. I began this week in Lincoln anxious out of comprehension. Anxious about running for this position, my Individual event, and very anxious to begin college auditions. But who can be anxious in an environment full of thespians? I started my week each morning with the leadership workshop. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about leadership, but this workshop is full of knowledge and full of individuals who are leaders in every possible way and I grew from just being in the same room as them. I made so many friends in this workshop, from my wonderful small group, "The Naturals", to current ITO members and all ITO candidates. This workshop is where I met some of the most important people in my life from all different parts of the country and I am so grateful for this opportunity. In short; I highly recommend the leadership workshop. 
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I want the light from God too come down and tell me this is the one take it and run. But picking a show doesn't happen like that does it?When starting to direct is the process to read a thousand scripts till you find the one? Why can't God tell me when a script is right for me? This upcoming year offers the opportunity for me to direct a one act play at my community theatre. I know I want to take this opportunity but I also want to have an amazing script. So far I have spent countless sleepless nights reading play after play including tonight. I can see all the plays played out in front of me but not me directing them. I guess my question of the night becomes how do you know you have the one?

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Hi! My name is Denton Williams, and I am from Richmond, Missouri. (Troupe 7179)

Richmond is a very small town with a strong foundation in the arts located approximately an hour northeast of Kansas City. I grew up with a passion for the theatre, and I was very involved in our town's community and youth theatre companies. I remember being shocked when I got to high school and was told that there was a conference every year in January for students in Missouri that loved theatre as much as I did. So I registered with my troupe as soon as I could, and before I knew it we were in Springfield, MO at the Missouri State University campus seeing shows and participating in workshops. One of the more meaningful moments of the trip was seeing the Missouri All-State Production of Jekyll & Hyde. I remember after watching the show turning to my troupe and saying, "That's going to be me someday!".

After that, I was determined. I waited and waited for auditions for the next All-State show to be posted, and finally, at the beginning of my Junior year, there they were. The chosen show was an obscure Jeanine Tesori musical, Violet. I had no idea what it was, and quite frankly I didn't care, I just knew I wanted to be apart of it. I managed to hunt down a copy of the Off-Broadway recording of the show online, along with  a copy of the short story 

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I was recently involved in Playworks at the International Thespian Festival, and I fortunately got cast in "Almost Shooter" Day 1- Tuesday (3:30-5) We met our Playwright Nick Pappas Director Carolyn Greer Stage Manager Blaine Barton Within hours of being cast, we had our first rehearsal which obviously was a read through. That day we knew we were going to be apart of something huge due to the subject matter: School Shootings. We also learned that it is written in the style of many modern shows... There are various scenes of different witnesses featuring usually a monologue about that characters experience. It was tremendous. Day 2- Wednesday (9-10:30) We begin blocking the shooter scene where we meet the killers of various school shootings ( I was cast as Cho, who was the Virginia Tech shooter, so this was a big day for me). We spent all rehearsal blocking and getting this just right. With a couple of observers, it was great to have an audience. Day 3- Thursday (1:30-4) We begin blocking the opening scene and staging the monologues. This rehearsal was extended and our Director, Playwright, and Dramaturg all brought in food for us to eat. We were also informed on what costumes
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Registration: $670
Money for the week: $80
Spending a week with over 3,100 thespians: priceless

The International Thespian Festival was held on June 23-28 and each day was everything but scripted. The week began on Monday when my troupe from Omaha, Nebraska arrived around 1:30, after quickly unpacking our belongings we anxiously planned out our week. My afternoon consisted of meeting with the ITO candidates, the ITO, and the STO while volunteering for door guarding and headcounts throughout the week. After a rushed meal, I joined my troupe in watching the first show in our weekly lineup: Antigone presented by thespian troupe 4501, New Albany High School from New Albany, Indiana. The audience was amazed to see high school students acrobatically and gracefully suspend themselves by ropes of fabric. Our evening concluded with An Evening with Shaiman and Wittman, where a cast of talented thespians and two Broadway performers joined the composers to perform a selection of songs from Hairspray, Smah, and Catch Me if You Can. What made that performance special was watching a girl from troupe perform in the chorus at the end (pictured below)!
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While all the ITO candidates this year are strong, it is an especially strong year for Region II candidates. Here is a taste of their leadership potential.

When asked what her favorite theatre memory is, Liz Coin from Bettendorf, Iowa writes (or rather, confesses):
"Once upon a time I understudied the role of Mimi in RENT.
If you don't know, Mimi is an exotic dancer who traditionally wears blue spandex pants for her iconic song, "Out Tonight."
This was my first time playing the role, and I was extremely nervous. Mugs upon mugs of tea were consumed earlier that day, so when the time of performance came I was.... well-hydrated. And nervous. Quite nervous.
The show started. Things were fine. The need to go to the bathroom was strong, but tolerable. Until about five minutes before the big number.
"I can't hold it anymore. I don't have time to go outside." (there isn't a bathroom backstage of this community theater)

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Thespian Festival 2014 is so close! I wanted to take a minute to give you a little information about each of the 2014- 2015 ITO Chair candidates. This week, they will be wearing different colored notebooks around their neck, so be sure to say hi!! 

Adelina Perez, Albuquerque NM

My favorite theatre memory would be when I was a freshmen doing the music man. The one day I think of automatically is one day of rehearsal when we all ended up staying till 8:00pm. We worked so hard on stage but backstage everyone was so tired that they were acting crazy! We had a group of "invisible" ninjas running around literally picking people up and moving them to the other side of the stage... We had a pizza party and painting party! This was also the day that we decided that getting pickle juice flavored snow cones would be a good idea... It was such a hectic day that it wasn't that stressful at all, it is probably the first memory I have of being accepted into the theatre and making the friends that I would soon call my best friends :)
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Wow! Wow! Wow! We have some AWESOME Region 3 Candidates this year, and I wanted to post a quick blog with their responses to some of the questions we asked them on previous Community Blogs. Please please please check them out if you are attending leadership and intend on voting on Friday. Without further ado I present the three fabulous ladies running for ITO Region 3 Representative:

Maison Kelly: When Asked, "What is your favorite theatre memory?"

Our cast always bonds throughout the run of a musical, but I have never seen anything like the closing night of our most recent musical, Annie. Last year's musical was very much overtaken by negativity and apathy, so I was nervous to see what kind of community would surround Annie.
I have never had a more incredible experience and honor in my life than to be a part of that cast.
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Festival begins in one day! Let's get to know our 2014-2015 ITO Region IV Rep candidates! Here's some of their favorite highlights from what we've asked them! :)

First is Kim Albanowski from Pennsylvania! I've had the privilege of knowing her since last festival. She is so sweet and on top of everything. She's one of those leaders that will already step up if needed. When asked what her favorite theatre memory was, this was her response: 

"I have come to the decision that I do not only have one memory that is my favorite. My favorite memory is simply our tradtion and dedication to my troupe. However, for the sake of this question, I am going to specify one tradtion that is near and dear to my heart and every heart in my troupe. My troupe has many traditions, but before every show we gather in our green-room and join hands. Whether you are cast, crew, directors or stage managers, in this moment we are all thespians holding tight to one another. This is a very powerful feeling. We join hands and begin any announcements that need to be said, such as what the audience is like, any last minute notes, etc. and our seniors get to say a word. Then, we begin our tradition: "Ladies." It is a very simple tune, "ladies keepin' it light, everything will be alright," one student begins this tune and our eyes are shut, then our directer goes around to everybody and taps them on the shoulder, at that point they add to the tune whatever they desire, whether it be a beat, snaps or claps, a harmonization (which it normally is), or simply just the melody. Every show has their own sound, and it is created here. This also serves to calm any nerves down and create a peaceful environment. Pennsbury's Alma Mater being sung is next(which is not always completely memorized by the entire troupe unless you are a choir kid), but standing in the room with everyone and singing our schools Alma Mater, for the first time with some and for the last time with others is an indescribable and overwhelming feeling. It is not necessarily a specific memory, but it is my favorite moment that is created by my troupe, and with every show it becomes better and better.
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