The Value of Empathetic Thinking: How We Can Use Theatrical Practices to Create a Kinder Generation

The Value of Empathetic Thinking: How We Can Use Theatrical Practices to Create a Kinder Generation

Emotional intelligence and empathy are just as essential to living a healthy, meaningful, and successful life as critical thinking is. If we want to impart these skills onto a new generation of students, we would be wise to use the foundations of theater as our first step.

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How to Recover From a Bad Show

How to Recover From a Bad Show

I spent opening night of my recent show sitting at the back of the auditorium, poised to run backstage and fix problems. It didn’t start out that way. I gave a curtain speech and felt the excited buzz of anticipation as I sat and watched the show begin. And then… the mics didn’t work. And the curtains caught, three times. And a trumpet was left onstage. And two actors who had never had so much as a slip of the tongue in rehearsal froze and forgot their lines. Props weren’t checked, or went missing after being checked.

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“Once Before I Go: Creating Goodbye Rituals for the High School Drama Classroom”

“Once Before I Go: Creating Goodbye Rituals for the High School Drama Classroom”

You and your high school drama students have struck the Spring Musical. College acceptances are in for those headed that way.  Between AP’s and senior ditch day, those superstar seniors who never wanted to leave after rehearsal are around less and less. And when they are, they are half-asleep, giddy, or off in some place of their own devising, lame ducking their way through the last days of senior year, heads elsewhere, hearts struggling to comprehend that soon it’ll be time to enter the much anticipated “real world.”

Secretly, they all fear they’ll somehow disappear from the face of the earth once they throw that cap up in the air.

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I Show Up for the Ensemble

I Show Up for the Ensemble

Forget Dorothy, I show up for the Ozians.

A colleague of mine often ribs me about being so enamored with the ensemble. He thinks I place too much emphasis on the shadow characters, the living props, the background, the wallflowers. He is 100% correct.

Maybe it is because in my 25 years of theater so far I have spent a majority of my onstage time as one of the ensemble. Perhaps I have never grown past the little dark haired girl in Oklahoma! laughing with glee at a joke during the pie auction that no one ever heard.

But I think my true love for the ensemble has blossomed during my work as a high school theatre director. 

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Theatre in an Underfunded High School

Theatre in an Underfunded High School

Money may not be the solution to everything, but when it comes to the funding of the arts, it sure helps. As a student at Braintree High School, a public high school just south of Boston, where the arts are the least of the school's priorities. Of course, funding put towards academic classes and research materials should take first rank in the funding hierarchy, but when it comes to extracurriculars, the school quickly favors anything but the arts. It seems no matter how the sports programs may not excel, countless amounts of money are pumped into new facilities and trainers to try to bolster the appeal of a hometown hero who scores the touchdown in a 35-7 loss.

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Favoritism in Casting School Theatre

Favoritism in Casting School Theatre

We've all been there. You read a play and immediately start casting it in your mind. If you've been teaching in the same place for a while and you're lucky, you have a core group of devoted students who come back for each play, no matter what you decide to produce. They know you and how you prefer to work, and you know their capabilities. But does that influence your casting? Should it?

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Some Group Strengthening Exercises for Drama Class

Some Group Strengthening Exercises for Drama Class

When attending drama classes, one of the main goals should be to achieve a strong connection in a dynamic group. One of the best ways to do this is by working with exercises that focus on awareness, eye contact, and attention. Not only have these exercises helped my theatre group to grow stronger, but also myself as an individual to grow more disciplined and adaptable to different kinds of groups

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Teaching Theatre: "Is Anybody Out There?!"

Teaching Theatre: "Is Anybody Out There?!"

Teaching theatre can be lonely.

Wait. What?! How can teaching be lonely? You’re literally surrounded by people all…day...long.

Yes. True. Surrounded by people. People in your classroom who hopefully love theatre and love you. Surrounded by your students. Hopefully surrounded by supportive teaching, admin, and school staff. Maybe supportive parents and guardians too.

But, teaching theatre is lonely.

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PA School Board Decides that Theatre Productions Must Now Be Approved by Superintendent Before Performance

PA School Board Decides that Theatre Productions Must Now Be Approved by Superintendent Before Performance

The dress rehearsals of shows at Waynesboro Senior High School looks like they’ll have quite the critic going forward, the schools’ superintendent. A recent school board decision made it possible for the Superintendent to approve or deny performances going forward based on whether he determines it appropriate.

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If Other Schools Copy HS 'Alien' Production, It's 20th Century Fox/Disney's Fault

If Other Schools Copy HS 'Alien' Production, It's 20th Century Fox/Disney's Fault

If Disney/20th Century Fox don’t make it clear that this sort of production is a violation of copyright, then many other schools are going to be copying what North Bergen High School did. I’ve already received emails from teachers who have told me that their students are begging them to do adaptations of movies such as Harry Potter, Frozen, Anastasia, X-Men and even Die Hard. The line of thinking in the eyes of the students is “if North Bergen’s production went viral, think all the attention we could get.” The teachers are having a tough time explaining to the students how much trouble they could get in. But if the studios don’t seem to care, I can understand why these students might not worry about that.

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We Need to talk about that H.S. Production of "Alien"...

We Need to talk about that H.S. Production of "Alien"...

In the past 24 hours, I've been asked by many people what my thoughts are on the story out of North Bergen, NJ that a high school drama club performed an adaptation of the movie, "Alien".

Let me make some things perfectly clear upfront:

1. The passion and creativity of the students should be commended.

2. I hope this production launches their interest in theatre for years to come.

At the same time, it's clear that a production like this is a clear example of a violation of copyright.

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