The Educational Theatre Association has released the first series of National Individual Event Training Videos. The videos, embedded in EdTA’s National Individual Events Library, are intended to help students, teachers, and adjudicators gain a better understanding of National Individual Events (NIEs) performance and technical theatre presentation expectations, both at chapter conferences and the International Thespian Festival (ITF). Filmed at the 2016 ITF, the short 3-to-6-minute videos include Superior-rated student solo acting, musical theatre performances, and a costume construction presentation. Each of the student videos are accompanied by a companion adjudicator interview video in which a NIE judge talks about their perception regarding the area of performance or presentation, with particular emphasis on the elements of a Superior, as detailed in the NIEs rubrics used at ITF.
The videos are part of an ongoing initiative, the Individual Events Filming Project, launched by EdTA Director of Educational Policy James Palmarini and videographer Jim Talkington. The two will continue the project work at 2018’s ITF, with the goal of producing NIEs training videos in all areas of performance and technical theatre presentation.
Doug Berlon, EdTA Deputy Executive Director and manager of National Individual Events, said that the idea is to create a professional development resource that serves multiple audiences. “We think these videos show students and teachers what a Superior-rated performance or presentation looks and sounds like can serve as a kind of benchmark that can help guide them in their own NIEs preparation. And I think the judges’ interviews are particularly valuable for new adjudicators in that the comments by veteran judges will give them a better sense of how to apply their own knowledge and expertise to create useful feedback for students.”
Berlon also thinks the videos can serve as a great discussion prompt for judge’s training sessions or dialogues between teachers and students who are preparing their IE materials. “We are not saying these videos are the last word on what constitutes a Superior IE,” he said. “You may disagree with the scoring and with the judge’s comments on what a student should do and not do. That’s fine—what we’re after with this project is to provide training that creates reflection that, at the end of day, helps teachers to better guide their students’ preparation, give judges some guidance on how to give meaningful feedback, and to help students prepare to give their very best performances.”