Check Yourself: A Really Basic Overview of Copyright for Theatre Teachers

Check Yourself: A Really Basic Overview of Copyright for Theatre Teachers

When it comes to theatrical productions, teachers need to have at least some knowledge of copyright for the shows that they want to perform.

OnStage Blog has been reporting a recent slew of copyright infringement cases. Recently, a high school production of The Lion King which was forced to cancel performances.  This whole ordeal was even more heartbreaking since students had already begun performances. These kids worked for several hours every day for weeks to create a show, and they ended up having to cancel.

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Justified Anger or Sore Losers? - Pittsburgh Students Plan to Protest Theatre Awards Due to Show Being Ineligible

Justified Anger or Sore Losers? - Pittsburgh Students Plan to Protest Theatre Awards Due to Show Being Ineligible

Last week, I wrote about over whether or not high school theatre awards actually help or hurt high school theatre departments. Reaction to the piece was mixed with some sharing their positive experiences and others who had quite the opposite.

In the past few days, an uproar in Pittsburgh regarding their high school theatre awards proves how these types of awards can create issues and cause students and parents to lose focus on what's really important when it comes to the performing arts. 

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Are High School Theatre Competitions Actually Hurting High Schools?

Are High School Theatre Competitions Actually Hurting High Schools?

While many high school students are taking finals and getting ready for the summer, many of their thespian classmates are getting ready for the most important time of the year, high school theatre competitions. 

Over the years many of these awards have provided more than just bragging rights for area schools. They have provided scholarships and resume highlights for these students. The schools themselves also benefit from having tangible achievements that come in handy when budget season comes around. 

But with any competition, whether it's on the field or on the stage, there are negative elements that can create toxic environments and poor choices on the part of the educators. It also reveals an uneven playing field where the richer schools benefit while the lower budget ones are ignored. 

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Why We Perform Spring Awakening

Josh Turner

Spring Awakening is a show that holds no punches. The musical (based on the play by Frank Wedekind) centers around a group of misguided and angsty 19th century German teenagers who struggle through abortion, suicide, and exploring their sexuality. One of the greatest obstacles they face, though, is their ignorant (and sometimes abusive) parents and teachers. In the song "The Dark I Know Well" two girls sing about the physical and sexual abuse they've faced at the hands of their parents, and how they feel they have no voice to speak out against them. That happens to be a recurring theme in Spring Awakening. The character's struggles, both internal and external, stem from their inability to find a voice. This is why Spring Awakening is so important. The same way the angry guitar-driven rock jams of the show give a voice to the characters, the show itself gives a voice to teenagers who face the same hardships as the characters they are portraying.

The two main characters of the show are a young man and woman who are exploring a physical relationship together, without any knowledge of the consequences. Their parents refuse to tell them anything about their changing bodies, and their school system has no place for sex education. While the story of these children being betrayed by their role models and caregivers seems just tragic enough for a staged production, this story is one that often plays out in the real world. The show's biting commentary of sex education in public schools is just as relevant as the other issues in the show, including the epidemic of teenage suicides. Through the songs "B**** of Living" and "Don't Do Sadness" the character Moritz expresses and stresses the struggles he faces every day. He even writes a letter to an adult in his life, pleading for help, but the dangerous signs of depression go unnoticed and he eventually takes his own life. All of these problems faced by the characters are extremely relevant to teenagers today. So why aren't more high schools performing it?

Most public schools shy away from musicals like Spring Awakening. The strong language alone is enough to keep it out of the hands of most high school theatre departments. Even for the high schools who are allowed to perform shows like American Idiot and Rent, which have strong language and edgy subject material, Spring Awakening still seems out of grasp. The subject matter of sex and sexuality is off-limits. But teenagers grapple with these issues every day of their lives. The characters Georg and Hanschen represent teenage youths exploring their sexuality together. Gay characters do not often appear in musicals performed by high schools, and when they do, they are frequently portrayed as a punchline and not as real people with real emotions and motivations. What message does this send to the hundreds of thousands of students who not only view, but perform this material? The message that Spring Awakening sends is that whatever you're going through, whoever you are, whoever you love, it's okay. It's all part of growing up. And that message is so crucial to developing teenagers.

Many students who perform Spring Awakening are extremely passionate about what they're creating. Not only is it a beautiful work of art, with a precise, emotional score and a compelling script, but students are also more likely to be invested in what they perform when they can connect directly to what they create. From West Potomac High School's production of Spring Awakening, student Adrianna DeLorenzo said "This show exerts an energetic message of hope, even through the incredible tragedy. I was shocked, but insanely excited when I found out that we had gotten permission to put on Spring Awakening. It has always been one of my favorite musicals, and to finish my senior year with this production is something really special. I know that some people struggle to understand the need for the rawness of the show, but it's important, and I really hope that our community will see that and love it as much as I do." Another student from the production, Tony Lemus, said "This show conveys serious themes and topics that should be shared with a teen audience. Performing this show to me means that I can share these topics with people when I am at an age where I can relate to some of the themes. It also gives me the opportunity to help people who are either going through something related to the show and need help or someone who is uninformed about these topics that I can help." Students, and the community they belong to, deserve an artistic outlet that leaves a lasting, positive effect. A dialogue needs to be started somewhere, and many theatre students are devoted enough to be the ones to do it. We perform Spring Awakening because our youth needs a voice. We perform Spring Awakening because sexual abuse and suicide should not be swept under the rug. We perform Spring Awakening because it is important.

Assigned seating for all shows is $12 and is only available until 2 hours before each performance at westpotomactheatre.org Any remaining seats will be available at the door one hour before performances. We recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time.

Dates:

May 25th at 7:00pm

May 26th at 7:00pm

May 31st at 7:00pm

June 1st at 7:00pm

June 2nd at 7:00pm

Warning: This show contains mature content and adult language.

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School Theatre Trips: When are they Actually Educational?

School Theatre Trips: When are they Actually Educational?

Many of us, myself included, have fond memories of school theatre trips. Whether it's to see a pantomime, a local play, or even a large musical, trips to the theatre can be great fun, and a fantastic way to engage with something creative during a time in our lives when it is easy to become blinkered by the focus of passing exams. But are school theatre trips always educational? I would argue not.

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What Exactly is the Perfect Monologue?

What Exactly is the Perfect Monologue?

Okay, stop for a second and just imagine with me.You see a post online about upcoming auditions for a musical or play. You look closer: it's your favorite show!! You know that you have to get that special part, or else you'll be devastated. So you look at what you have to prepare for the audition.

A one-two minute monologue.

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Why I Love Seeing the Opening Night Performance

Why I Love Seeing the Opening Night Performance

One of my favorite things to do as both an audience member and as a writer is to go and see a theatrical performance on its opening night. There’s something about that particular performance that makes it different from any other performance. Over the past few years I, as not only an audience member but as a reviewer, have been fortunate to see many opening night performances. It is from those experiences that I would like share a bit of insight as to what makes the opening night performance stand out from all the others. 

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If Math and Science Are Required in School, the Arts Should Be Too

If Math and Science Are Required in School, the Arts Should Be Too

A poll was conducted by the British performing arts newspaper The Stage (www.thestage.co.uk) to determine the opinion that a majority of people had on a topic that is close to the hearts of many people in the theatre community: arts education in school. More specifically, these people were asked whether or not they believed that the teaching of arts subjects should be compulsory. 

The results: Approximately 77% said “yes”, while approximately 23% said “no”.

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