In the summer of 1986, I took a three-month literary internship at Playwrights Horizons.
I was surprised to get it, because the interview had started so disastrously. Playwrights Horizons is in what was then a rough section of Manhattan, and had a security door that you had to buzz to get in. For some reason, I couldn’t get manage the door. Buzz. Garbled intercom instructions. Me doing something wrong. More buzzing. More garbled words. More incompetence. The intercom voice got frustrated and increasingly mean.
Once I managed it, I found myself in a plain hall leading to a stairway. My entrance had been so fundamentally stupid that I did not wish to claim it. I realized that I could leave, wait five minutes, and try again.
That was how I learned about security cameras.
The entire episode—inside and out—Mr. Magoo and (much worse) Craven Skulker —was being fed to a monitor mounted in the lobby where it was being watched by the receptionist and by a roomful of mesmerized actors who were waiting to audition.
“We could see you,” said the receptionist intern flatly.
I LOVE Jr. Thespians. They are so excited about what they are doing. They are extremely creative and always ready to learn. They are never scared of being themselves.
Last weekend, I got the privilege of heading to Dallas to help with Jr. Festival 2014. I knew I was going to have a blast Jr. Fest, but I never imagined I would love it as much as I did!
Thursday before festival started, we all arrived in Dallas. We all met up and the airport, and headed to tour Coppell West. Coppell's staff was extremely nice and I loved getting to see where we would be working all weekend! After our tour, we got an awesome dinner recommendation, and so we headed to dinner. It was an awesome time to catch up with EdTA staff and the other ITO.
Friday was JR FEST DAY! We woke up, got some work done, and headed to Coppell to start getting ready! First, we helped sort t-shirts for registration. I was so used to helping sort t-shirts at different states, with the typical small, medium, and large, that I forgot youth small existed. Well... it does... and it is tiny!
Our school's annual talent show is THIS WEEKEND! We had a whirlwind month of auditions in February...adding TWO extra dates due to winter weather. We had a record number of students audition. This Thursday and Friday twenty-one acts - singing, dancing, martial arts, acting, original poetry, and instrumental performances will play on stage. Today we're loading in lights and sound. It's going to be great! If you're in the area...
Flushing High School March 13 at 5pm, March 14 at 7pm; Tickets are $5 in advance, $6 at the door
I was lucky enough to get to attend South Carolina's Thespian Festival this year. Immediately when I got there, I was given a warm welcome from the chapter director, Joe Timmons. After we toured the gorgeous venue, I got the chance to start meeting students. I met lots of wonderful Thespians, and we headed to dinner together. After dinner, it was time for one acts!
South Carolina has really strong one acts. Almost every school in attendance this year brought a one act. The excitement about the one acts was something really fun to see. There was a huge variety of topics chosen. I loved getting to see so many one acts and so much talent. In between one acts, everyone in the audience would sing songs or do different chants. I felt like this really fostered a spirit of community throughout the whole festival. I also got to meet the stage manager for the one acts. She was incredible and kept everything running smoothly all weekend.
South Carolina also had a Broadway Cares Auction this year. Many students from Carolina Forrest helped to run this auction. I was very impressed by the leadership and organization of the auction. I want to give a huge thank you to that school for taking the lead on the auction! It was really successful.
I decided to write a few blogs, chock full of Community tips, not only to help newbies get their bearings but to help those seasoned users learn more to take the next steps or help others. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I wanted to share the most important tip of all:
Don’t be afraid.
Play around with the different features, click on buttons, test them out, see what they do. You won’t break it, I promise. I've always thought that the best way to learn something new is to try it. Use me as a test subject! Send me a contact request or a private message to see how those features work. If you believe you have made a grievous error and you’re really worried about it, just shoot me an email. I can fix it! This is a tool for you and I want you to feel comfortable using it. If there’s another way you prefer to learn (detailed screen shots, live demo, written instructions), let me know. Odds are, I can put that together for you!
Now that you’re already feeling more confident, let’s move into the world of Discussions. Discussions are the most popular activity in the Community, as you can probably tell by the Daily Digest that arrives in your email each day. What is a discussion?
Thank you to Joe Timmons for being such a gracious host! The South Carolina conference offers students in the state several performance opportunities in the areas of IEs and One Acts. It was in the area of One Acts that I was especially impressed. Almost all the schools attending choose to bring a One Act performance and the appreciative audience was a prize all could enjoy (truly one of the more well behaved audiences I have had the pleasure of seeing at a high school conference).
The One Acts are well managed by a stage manager who could easily handle any and all changes that were thrown at her. All aspects of these performances are extremely fair - with both storage space and tech time afforded to each school being equal. And since they have set up time incorporated into the performance time limit the approach most schools take to set up is easily as exciting to see as the 'actual' performances of the one acts themselves!
The working relationship between this chapter and the college which hosts (Winthrop University) is excellent. Clearly both parties see the value in such a good working relationship.
Finally I was happy to see the alumni who choose to give up their vacation or other free time to come in and work/help run the conference.
Jim Nakamoto, drama teacher extraordinaire who continued into retirement as a community theater director, passed away last October. His wish was that his alumni and friends reunite not for a funeral but for a show — a "celebration," to use one of his favorite words. Having done one reunion show before, in 1998, many of us grads knew this was always his way.
"Mr. Nak" taught and directed for decades at McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has directorial ties to East West Players in Los Angeles and community theater in the islands (Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Kumu Kahua).
On March 29 we will be "Celebrating Mr. Nak!" in a tribute show. We are raising money on Kickstarter to pay bills, primarily, but we're hoping there will be a sizable amount left for the school's use in reinvigorating its theater program.
As everyone knows, arts education has suffered in budget cuts nationally. Perhaps our fledgling fund can provide after-school support for a theater education experience.
Please check out our campaign here:
For more about our favorite teacher, visit the website,
I schools are in so much trouble.
I've seen schools that are
that have lost their accreditation,
schools that are being shut down.
As I visit more and more Title I
schools, I see more and more theatre teachers who, as amazing and
vibrant and passionate and intelligent as they are, are NOT being
And I don't mean just by their schools.
Because we already know that is a mixed bag.
I mean by the
rest of us.
I volunteer to work with other interested Theatre educators and any EdTA staff member to brainstorm on some future ideas for Acting categories. I would like to suggest a new category, Musical Theatre Dance. I would like us to discuss the educational philosophy of DQing any student. My thoughts on this matter include Timers indicating 15 seconds before the time limit. Then calling time when student reaches maximum time. Instructions to the judges could include their indicating performance time on the Rubric/Share Sheet, and then rating on what was presented. A suggestion would be for the judge to include some statement which indicates that the student might have received a higher rating if the judge had seen the entire performance.
The teachers need to rehearse performances timing, timing, timing.
What do you think? What other ideas can we add?
On Friday, Coppell Middle School West welcomes the Junior Thespian Festival
This year's event features three main stage performances: Annie, Jr., 13,
and the world premiere of Almost, Maine: Middle School Edition
Also, author and dancer Tim Federle
; playwright Lindsay Price
; jazz pianist, composer and singer Eli Yamin
, among others, will be teaching at the Junior Thespian Festival.
It's looking like a fun and educational weekend! Not to be missed!
and I will be blogging throughout the entire weekend. Experience the Junior Festival by checking the blog
Welcome to the bi-weekly EdTA Advocacy Update February 24, 2014 edition
The Advocacy Update is where you can find state and national news about theatre and other arts education
of the most difficult yet beautiful awakenings I've
had on this journey has been to accidentally become a Cheerleader.
I spend a day in a school, watching an incredible teacher work his
or her magic with students...and at the end of that day, I tell that
teacher, quite specifically, what I saw that inspired or encouraged
or excited or thrilled me. And I watch a face light up...a heart
lift...a spirit rise.
WHAT? I am NO ONE. I am just another
Theatre teacher who has happened into this classroom and am sharing
the good I see happening.
But for that teacher at that moment, I
become a Cheerleader.
This past weekend I traveled to Minnesota for their state conference. This was a phenomenal conference. Their adult board is unified and on point, and their student board was energetic and effective. Despite the still growing nature of this state's thespians, I truly believe that Minnesota has a fantastic mindset that all other states, and national level, can take a page from.
When Kristin McFadden and I landed in the airport, we were met by Tommy Krueger, who is the adviser to the STO. Every state needs a Tommy Krueger. He is fantastic. His involvement with the STO is simply wonderful, and his leadership expectations of them gets great results. The board is comprised of 16 members, and runs as a unified board, no positions. Tommy Krueger says that he wants to see the STO start to do more in the community during the rest of the year.
The schedule consisted of One Acts from the schools, workshops, vendors/ colleges, and free time. Day one was spent in a local high school, and day two was at the Guthrie in downtown Minneapolis. Both venues were incredible, and had remarkably generous and kind staff there to help.
Interested in running for a position as an ITO? Or interested in what all the ITO do? Read the following.
The International Thespian Officers are the student leaders of the International Thespian Society. The six positions include:
· ITO Chair
· ITO Communications Editor
Do you think your school’s theatre or other arts program is doing something innovative? Here’s a great opportunity for you to share and showcase your program, students, and school and be awarded money to make it even better. The College Board Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts celebrates the achievements of arts initiatives for students in grades 6–12 that promote learning and creativity in exemplary and innovative ways. Schools are awarded $5,000 each in three categories; one will receive an additional $2500 as the national winner.
The three categories are:
1. Arts Integration, recognizing initiatives that use an innovative approach to drawing connections between arts-based learning and other subjects.
2. Equity through arts, recognizing a program that uses the arts as a tool for increasing academic engagement among underserved students.
Post in the comments section photos of the Theatre space YOU have embraced!!!
The Georgia Thespian Conference was such a wonderful experience for me and the rest of the Georgia STO. We had a wonderful time coordinating Coin Wars, the BCEFA Live Auction, DuckTales, and the Silent Auction to benefit our 2014-2015 Conference Grants. We raised more than $2,000 for Conference Grants (enough for about 20) and $10,000 for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS!
Our theme this year was "Hundreds of Stories." We tried to emphasize the part that Thespians have played in our lives. We all have our daily lives, our prologues (how we got involved with theatre), and our epilogues (what we do with the lessons we learned from ThesCon), but what we shared was that one chapter, that one weekend, that one experience for all of us to come together and share in each other's company and support. I personally believe this is why we were able to meet and exceed our fundraising goals; we were coming together and ready to do it for a cause.
It was a jam-packed weekend full of great workshops, IEs, and performances. Personally, I spent most of my time announcing shows and preparing for my IE and scholarship audition. It was such an honor to receive a rating of Overall Accomplished as well as receive the Gerald Ray Horne Scholarship. I am so thankful for the wonderful Georgia Thespians and my home there. Without them, I have no idea where I would be today!
It was such a whirlwind weekend at the Arkansas Thespian Festival in Conway! Arkansas is a truly amazing state chock full of talented, attentive, and mature theatre students, teachers, and directors! It was my pleasure to get to know your SSOs, help with your leadership workshop, and simply experience all you guys had to offer! Thanks so much to Ms. Michelle Moss and the rest of the Arkansas State Board who were so welcoming! I cannot wait to see as many AR Thespians at the Festival in June . Counting down the days!
Last weekend, I traveled to Missoula, Montana to be a representative at their state conference. Montana is a mid sized state by my estimations, and had about 450 students in attendance. Despite the size, however, Montana packs a punch! Let's review.
On my first day, I walked into a room full of potential STO for the coming year. The present STO run a leadership workshop in the morning, before the shows start, where candidates for next year's board gather to learn about leadership, share their ideals, and show off their leadership skills. This process would continue throughout the conference, between two more workshops and general tasks that the candidates can help the STO out with to get to know them.
Next, the shows kicked off right away. Back to back for the rest of the day was performance after performance of fantastic thespian energy from every school in attendance. Every show brought something great to the table, as was made evident by the diversity of awards presented at the closing ceremonies. The first night came to a close with a banquet, during which several scholarships were announced as well as a teaching award, and then a production of The Miracle Worker
The second I stepped off of the airplane, I received an extremely warm welcome from two Mississippi Thespians! Kathleen and Anna came to pick me up, and when I walked out, they were holding an ADORABLE handmade sign. Though we had never met, we greeted each other with hugs and headed towards the car. Immediately we were laughing, sharing stories, and enjoying ourselves.
Friday morning, I got to meet the Mississippi Thespian Officers. They were all absolutely wonderful. We got to sit down together and plan their opening ceremony skit. We had an amazing cardboard cutout of a mask. We attached ribbons, and during the skit, as we cut the ribbons, everyone said what “Thespians is…” We then introduced the theme, No Strings Attached. After that they started it off with a wonderful one act and then everyone headed to Individual Events. I was lucky enough to time the monologue room. I got to watch some amazing monologues, and I was thrilled to see so many student performances.
On Friday, we met in our Circle of Friends for the first time. I LOVE Circle of Friends. Each delegate received one of six puppets. These puppets split them into their different groups. Each group received a bag of props to work with. We met many times over the weekend to come up with a 3 minute skit using each item in our bag. I LOVED this, because not only did we get to put on some awesome skits, but we all got to know each other really well. All of the techies also stepped out of their comfort zone, and acted!