How to Succeed in Theatre- Without Higher Education

How to Succeed in Theatre- Without Higher Education

Colleges and conservatories are expensive. There’s no other way to say it, they just are. Unless your family has set aside money for you to do so, pursuing higher education means you’ll likely spend your senior year, and the next four years in a formal education program struggling to get loans, scholarships, and side hustles, often requiring you put yourself in some extreme cases of exhaustion and stress. A social life will be difficult to maintain, Saturdays will be spent at work, mornings before class shared with coffee and overdue homework, afternoons will be taken up by running from class only to miss your bus to work and mean you have to beg someone for a ride, and after all of that you’ll still trudge need to the library at 2 AM to photocopy the textbook you can’t afford. If that sounds like a lot to handle, you can find an alternative route. That’s also terrifying. It really is- I know. I’m following that alternative route.

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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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Theatre vs. Technology: Part 1

Theatre vs. Technology: Part 1

The world is soaring forward with the possibilities of technology and many of our schools are working to keep up with the changing society. It is very common to now see schools that are BYOD or 1 to 1 with technology. BYOD schools encourage students to “bring your own device” in order to utilize technology in the classroom. Schools that are 1 to 1 have assigned all students a device that they either take home regularly or leave at school, but every student has consistent access to their a device. As a classroom teacher, you may begin (or already have) to feel pressured to utilize technology in your classroom. This can be a challenge for all teachers, but especially those of us in performance based classrooms! How does the theatre classroom incorporate these technologies in a meaning-making way?

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The Secret of Happiness at College Is...

The Secret of Happiness at College Is...

The secret of happiness is knowing that happiness is always and only temporary. After all, a well-written character is never happy the entire show. Characters who appear to be happy either have joyfulness (sometimes through ignorance) or hide away when they are no longer happy. Additionally, we only see about two hours of glimpses into their lives.

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Please Stop Telling Conservatory Students They "Didn’t Go to a Real College"

Please Stop Telling Conservatory Students They "Didn’t Go to a Real College"

As graduation season is upon us, I would like to take the time to say congratulations! Congrats to everyone who graduates or have already graduated this year! Especially those who pursued a career in the arts. That is no easy task! Coincidentally I too have graduated this year as well (Congrats to the 134th class of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts!), and above all, I would like to say one thing.

Please stop telling the conservatory students they didn’t go to college. I’m getting really sick and tired of being told I didn’t go to a real college, and I bet some people who are reading this are too. 

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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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Dear Freshman Theatre Majors

Dear Freshman Theatre Majors

Acting is thrilling and terrifying. Acting is rarely not daunting at least at one point in a process of a show (auditions tend to be). Actors have to be very vulnerable to complete strangers, or even worse to people they know. Your journey as a Theatre/Musical Theatre Major will be rewarding, taxing, disheartening, enchanting, and wonderful. Here are some points that I wish I knew or had taken to heart and embraced early on as my mentality.

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Theatre and Musical Theatre Students in a Department: What’s The Relationship?

Theatre and Musical Theatre Students in a Department: What’s The Relationship?

As a musical theatre student in a competitive performing arts program, I have witnessed the dynamics between the different majors. Particularly, I have seen how the theatre and musical theatre students navigate the program, and how it can often be different from each other. These students will often stick together by major, even to the point of joining different student theatre clubs where students could usually mingle and exchange experiences. Therefore, this makes the circles rather closed off to each other.

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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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Is Drama a "Real Degree"?

Is Drama a "Real Degree"?

I'll never forget the shifts at the bar, where men in their 50's who have been plumbers all their lives, tell me that my choices will lead me nowhere in life, and I'll fail no matter what I do. Thank you, Barry, I'm so glad I never asked for your opinion in the first place.

No, we may not have to sit in a silent hall for an hour and write exams, but drama students will be damned if anyone says they don't work hard. There are so many unseen hours that go into what makes a performance happen - more than just the cast "standing on a stage and saying some words".

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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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The Best Undergraduate Theatre Programs in Each State - 2019 Edition

The Best Undergraduate Theatre Programs in Each State - 2019 Edition

Every year, OnStage Blog deep dives into college theatre programs to find what we feel are some of the best in the nation. While the perfect programs is the one that fits best with the student, schools can become that fit with fantastic facilities, strong faculty, multiple performance opportunities, among other things. In truth, there are some schools that do that better than others and should be recognized for it.

At the end of the summer, we will be publishing our top 25 theatre program rankings. But as we start to close the books on this academic year, we felt it’s time to name some programs that did exceptional work this year. So here is our 2019 list of the best theatre programs in each state.

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Rumors and Outrage over a Middle School Cancelling a Production of 'Spelling Bee'

Rumors and Outrage over a Middle School Cancelling a Production of 'Spelling Bee'

There is news today coming out of Hyattsville, MD where the local middle school decided to cancel its upcoming production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee just weeks before it was set to open.

According to a letter sent from the school to parents, it provided no details into why the production was cancelled. It stated,

“Unfortunately we have decided to cancel the Spring Musical dates of May 2nd, 3rd and 4th,” the letter said, adding that a parent meeting would be held Tuesday to answer “any of your questions, comments or concerns.”

Without any details, rumors and speculation started to swirl among the students and parents. One rumor, which is making waves now, is that the show was cut because one character has gay parents.

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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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