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I went into school on Monday to complete our theater inventory and set up our repertory light plot for the school year.  I was so tired from conference and having terrible flight delays, but of course, my students still have the crazy energy of teenagers.  They all had to know every detail of conference and what I learned.  But where do you begin?  The level of learning can't be quantified or tested...it has to be experienced.  

This was so true for my favorite masterclass on viewpoints.  Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what viewpoints was before I stepped into that room.  Then I found out other people in the room knew what it was, and I felt that dreaded feeling of "I'm going to be the silly person in the room who has no idea what they are doing and will make a fool of myself in front of all the other theater teachers!"

Before self-consciousness could completely overwhelm me, we started with exercises to put us in the moment.  Someone in the circle began with the phrase, "I am...," and finished it.  Then it would go to the next person in the circle who would also finish the statement, responding to what the person before you said and without pre-planning what you were going to say.  Our second time around the circle we had the phrase "I hope..." One of the guest high school students finished the statement "I hope to fail."  Boom. Immediate tunnel-vision on the high school junior in the room wise beyond her years.  Exuding the kind of energy, bravery, and fearlessness we try to espouse in our students every day.  Oh, the tables had been flipped on me!  Here I am, a somewhat seasoned teacher falling trap to the same feelings I fight in my classroom.  How could I have been so...well, I don't know what the appropriate adjective is, but stupid certainly comes to mind.
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It is hard to believe that the start of school is just around the corner! It seems that no matter what channel you happen to be surfing, there never seems to be a lack of back to school commercials. Grocery stores are filled to the brim with new backpacks and school supply lists. I would imagine many are secretly dreading the end of days spent at the pool and mornings without an alarm clock.
 

Not me!

I am ready for the new school year because in just one month I will get to witness the impact Thespians can make in their community. I know what you are thinking- “My Tony in West Side Story last spring moved everyone to tears, I think that meets my quota for community changing this year.” Think again, friends! You have the opportunity to show your community what it means to be a Thespian - offstage!  

 

TOTS-EAT

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Even though the clock read 4:00AM on July 22 I was as energetic as an eight year old. The sudden burst of energy was all because I was about to embark on my first trip as an incoming International Thespian Officer.

My parents walked me through their "Travel Survival Guides" as we drove to the airport. Hugs were exchanged, and I was off to my gate. Once I landed in St. Louis I met up with Rachel Gatewood, the incoming Region III ITO, and we boarded our plane to Columbus.


After a smooth flight we met up with Liz Coin, the incoming Region II ITO, and Scott Wilson (aka Swils, one of the ITO's adult advisory members). Swils drove us our final leg of the trip to Cincinnati.

The two hour drive was finally over and we arrived at the Netherlands Plaza Hotel. Once inside the elegant building we met up with the rest of the incoming and outgoing ITO. 23 days apart called for 23 seconds of shrieks and hugs.
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Leadership Summit was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. First and foremost let me just say, that is a BEAUTIFUL city. There was live music in the evening time and the day time was lit with excitement. Little did the city know that some great information was being spread in the Netherland Plaza Hilton Hotel each night that weekend! 

For the incoming ITO there was training everyday. Something that taught me much more than expected. The outgoing ITO were so informative and very wise. They gave us real tips from the heart. Tips such as, remembering why we ran for this position and how to take care of ourselves through the stressful times. They also told us that this isn't about us, but our service to our thespians. 

My board and I got to sit in on two informative lectures on the National Arts Core Standard. A big thanks to Jim Palmarini and Randy Cohen. Your information played a huge role in the ITO coming up with our goals and values for our term this year. We later got to have lunch with both great minds and they gave us tips that we all could take home to our troupes about advocacy. 


With all that said, I met a plethora of adults dedicated to spreading and advocating for the arts because they know how beneficial it is to everyone involved. To you all, I give great thanks. Without you none of this could be accomplished. You're heroes. 
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On my flight home from the EdTA conference, I sat next to a police officer from Union Township (Cincinnati for us not locals) who had a rough day on the job. After hearing a bit about his very bad day, we finally got around to discussing that I was a theater teacher. He immediately lit up to tell me how he just took his wife to her first show, the Cameron Macintosh version of "Phantom of the Opera." Even remembering the show gave him goosebumps, and it was a great moment to see advocacy in action. Throughout the discussion he learned the difference between a regional theater and the Broadway tour, that you pay for permission to perform a show, and about the different jobs in theater. He was so excited to have someone to ask questions to and to share his own experience in high school seeing "Oklahoma" and how it affected him. He said he would love to see more, but with a newborn on an officer's salary it can sometimes be expensive. I suggested he go see some high school or college shows for a cheap date. His comment was finding about the shows was hard.
It got me thinking about my own police officer's back home...I would have loved to hand that Union Township officer and his family tickets to see my high school's show for free. But I bet there are officers with the same story back in Boston.
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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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http://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/SCHOOLTHEATRE/UploadedImages/e9a984be-c91a-4eee-9580-3581bb1ac072/lady-sings.jpg

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
IT'S OKAY.

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.

Shira
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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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