Two most inspiring people I've seen this year

The Two Most Inspiring People I’ve Seen This Year

I’m always inspired by talent, especially young talent.  These are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

You need to know about both of them.

Number One

Image result for Brandon Victor Dixon website

Do know Brandon Victor Dixon?

You don’t?  (That’s okay, I didn’t either.)

He’s the immensely talented gentleman who portrayed Judas in the recent television adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Here he is ;

You are welcome. 

Recently, Brandon was interviewed on Sirrus radio’s Broadway Musical station.  I was lucky enough to hear the interview.

What a professional!

Brandon is a Presidential Scholar Semi-finalist and scholarship winner at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, Brandon is a graduate of Columbia University and a recipient of the University’s I.A.L Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts which is an honor he shares with Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, and Katori Hall (Mountaintop).

Since his professional debut, originating the role of Adult Simba in The Lion King National Tour (Cheetah), Brandon has displayed his diverse abilities in a number of roles. Notably, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as Harpo in Broadway’s The Color Purple, a Grammy for his portrayal of  Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, and he was nominated for Oliviers, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and AUDELCO awards for his outstanding portrayal of Haywood Patterson in Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys.

I know talent folks. Honestly I can nearly smell it upon meeting someone. 

This fellow is tremendously talented and what’s more he’s a good person.

He’s involved in the #Weare campaign, raising funds for the YoungNew Yorker program.

From Brandon’s website :

“All sales from our first release, #WeAre, benefit youngnewyorkers.org, an organization that aims to help rehabilitate juvenile first time offenders in their teens who are sentenced to their ARTS program instead of JAIL.

The #WeAre campaign is a global call to action for all communities to support the recognition of our collective power and repsonsibility. This is the first project on my new platform designed to empower Art, Artists, and their Advocacy through musical collaboration.

As Brandon explained it (I’m paraphrasing here) instead of sending our young people straight to prison for their first offense, perhaps there are better methods of helping them.  To Brandon, and to me, the arts are the way to reach our youth and help them grow into the adults they are meant to be and become contributing members of society.   

I love programs such as these.  They make sense to me.  Everyone needs a second chance, especially a young person.  Instead of filling up yet another prison why not find another way to work with troubled youth?

For more information about Brandon, check out his website at http://brandonvictordixon.com/home

Number Two

Image result for who is mobley the singer

Here’s another young man you may not know, but I think you are going to soon.

His name is Mobley.

Last Friday evening, we went to see a show in Kansas City by our friend, Kelley Wade Hunt and Mobley played first.

Oh my gosh! Wait until you hear him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjD1xH5GyKUhttps://www.mobleywho.com/

Or this one:

https://fanlink.to/MobleyYoungAdultFiction

You have to picture this show.  Our friend, Kelley, is a veteran rhythm and blues singer.  Not surprisingly, many of the attendees are our age too.

However, first Mobley comes on the stage.  His music is not what you’d think some of us “elderstatesmen” would enjoy.  But within a few minutes he had us singing along with him, clapping and having fun!  (You understand Mobley couldn’t be much more than thirty years old?) It was awesome.

Furthermore, Mobley is a one man band.  He plays several instruments, writes music, sings and even created the video in the background.  Very impressive.

Afterwards, we stopped so say hi and compliment him on his music.  My husband is a retired instrumental music teacher who taught music theory for many years.  It was wonderful to watch Mobley and my husband converse about music just like two old friends.

From the Austin Monthly, “Band to Watch” interview:

“Mobley, whose real name is Anthony Watkins II, credits recent news events, particularly the Eric Garner grand jury decision, as the inspiration for deeper, more introspective songwriting. “About halfway through working on the record, the decision came back, and that was just devastating on multiple levels,” he says. “But it brought lots of things into a different focus, and it gave the work a moral center, and everything made sense after that.” That moral center is cleverly encased in layers of bright, thudding electronic flourishes and R&B-style vocals, as evidenced in the single “Swoon.”

His live show has a similar upbeat energy to it. He uses his film degree from the University of North Carolina and day job as a web designer to great effect, incorporating visuals, lighting and videos, in addition to toggling between playing the guitar, keyboard and an Akai drum machine. Being too cool for school onstage isn’t interesting to him. “I find it most compelling when performers seem like they believe what they’re doing and care about me believing what they’re doing,” he says.

See what I mean?   

Like Brandon, Mobley is a terrific fellow, too.

As I have said before, I don’t always blog about drama education, or my book, sometimes I blog about unusual experiences in my life.  Meeting Mobley was one of them.  I suspect you will all see a lot of him very soon.

Watch for Brandon Victor Dixon, too.

I bet you can tell now why these are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com

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what's on tv

What’s on TV Tonight? Live Musicals on Television

There has been a renewed interest in televised Broadway musicals. Here are a few:

Sound of Music

Peter Pan

The Wiz

Hairspray

Jesus Christ Superstar

It is my opinion Jesus Christ Superstar is the best televised production thus far.

They will never be perfect, but they do bring theatre to the masses and that is what is most important.

I understand there are more in the works!  Playbill.com announced what is coming along soon. Are any of these your favorite?

IN PRODUCTION
ALADDIN
• Release Date: May 24, 2019
• Production Company: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lin Pictures
• Screenplay: John August
• Director: Guy Ritchie
• Cast: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith
• A live-action adaptation of the Disney musical with songs by Alan MenkenHoward Ashman, and Tim Rice, also featuring new songs by Benj Pasekand Justin Paul.
• Latest Update: Disney’s Live-Action Aladdin Sets Release Date 
 (9/12/2017)THE LION KING
• Release Date: July 19, 2019
• Production Company: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
• Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson
• Director: Jon Favreau
• Cast: Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones
• A live-action adaptation of the Disney musical with songs by Elton John and Tim Rice.
• Latest Update: Elton John at Work on New Lion King Song for Beyoncé (2/15/2018)
IN DEVELOPMENT
13
• Production Company: CBS Films
• Screenplay: Bert V. Royal
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Jason Robert Brown, Dan Elish, and Robert Horn’s musical about a teenager who moves from New York City to small-town Indiana.
• Latest Update: Teenage Dream! CBS Films Will Bring Jason Robert Brown’s 13 to the Big Screen (8/12/2014)AMERICAN IDIOT
• Production Company: HBO
• Screenplay: Rolin Jones
• Director: Michael Mayer
• Cast: Billie Joe Armstrong
• An adaptation of Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer’s Tony nominated musical based on Green Day’s 2004 concept album of the same name.
• Latest Update: HBO Greelights Green Day’s American Idiot Film (10/6/2016)

BARE: A POP OPERA
• Producers: Hillary Butorac Weaver, Janet Billig Rich
• Screenplay: Kristin Hanggi
• Director: Kristin Hanggi
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Jon Hartmere, Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo’s musical about the struggles of two gay high school students at a Catholic boarding school.
• Latest Update: Bare: A Pop Opera Film Adaptation in the Works (1/2/2018)

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
• Production Company: Sony Pictures, Playtone
• Screenplay: Douglas McGrath
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Paul Blake will produce a film adaptation of the musical about the early life and career of singer/songwriter Carole King.
• Latest Update: Beautiful, About Life of Carole King, Is Heading to the Silver Screen (3/22/2015)

CATS
• Production Company: Universal Pictures, Working Title
• Screenplay: TBA
• Director: Tom Hooper
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
• Latest Update: Andrew Lloyd Webber Pens New Song for Possible Cats Film (1/5/2018)

COME FROM AWAY
• Production Company: The Mark Gordon Company
• Screenplay: Irene Sankoff and David Hein
• Director: Christopher Ashley
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s musical about the nearly 7,000 airplane passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland in the days following 9/11.
• Latest Update: Director Christopher Ashley Reveals Plans for the Come From Away Movie (12/27/2017)

GUYS AND DOLLS
• Production Company: 20th Century Fox
• Screenplay: Danny Strong
• Director: Michael Grandage
• Cast: TBA
• A new film adaptation of Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, and Jo Swerling’s Tony Award-winning musical.
• Latest Update: Michael Grandage to Direct Guys and Dolls Film Remake (5/31/2016)

GYPSY
• Production Company: TBA
• Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese
• Director: Barry Levinson
• Cast: Barbra Streisand
• A new film adaptation of Jule StyneStephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents‘ classic musical starring Barbra Streisand as Rose.
• Latest Update: Barbra Streisand Gypsy Film Script Loses Backer/Distributor (8/3/2016)

IN THE HEIGHTS
• Production Company: Warner Bros.
• Screenplay: Quiara Alegría Hudes
• Director: Jon M. Chu
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Tony Award-winning musical about the residents of the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
• Latest Update: Warner Bros. Acquires Rights for In the Heights Movie (5/18/2018)

JEKYLL & HYDE
• Production Company: TBA
• Screenplay: TBA
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• Production company RP Media has reportedly purchased the film rights to Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s popular musical.
• Latest Update: Film Rights Purchased for Jekyll and Hyde Musical (1/21/2013)

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
• Production Company: STX, The Really Useful Group, Rocket Pictures
• Screenplay: TBA
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• An animated feature based on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical.
• Latest Update: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elton John Are Working on a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Movie (3/28/2017)

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
• Production Company: Marc Platt Productions, Warner Bros.
• Screenplay: Matthew Robinson
• Director: Greg Berlanti
• Cast: TBA
• A new film adaptation of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s musical about a man-eating plant.
• Latest Update: New Version of Little Shop of Horrors Film in the Works (12/7/2016)

LYSISTRATA JONES
• Production Company: Branded Pictures Entertainment, Peck Entertainment
• Screenplay: Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn
• Director: Andy Fickman
• Cast: TBA
• Andy Fickman is developing a film adaptation of Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn’s musical about a group of high school cheerleaders who refuse to “give it up” until their basketball-player boyfriends score on the court.
• Latest Update: Lysistrata Jones Will “Give It Up” on the Big Screen; Andy Fickman Will Direct Film Adaptation (6/14/2013)

MATILDA
• Production Company: TBA
• Screenplay: Dennis Kelly
• Director: Matthew Warchus
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly’s musical based on the Roald Dahl novel.
• Latest Update: Matilda Movie Adaptation Likely to Begin Shooting in Late 2016 (8/19/2015)

MEMPHIS
• Production Company: Alcon Entertainment, Belle Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company, Warner Bros.
• Screenplay: Joe DiPietro
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s Tony Award-winning musical about a white radio DJ and his love for a black singer at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement.
• Latest Update: Film Adaptation of Tony-Winning Musical Memphis In the Works (10/15/2012)

MISS SAIGON
• Production Company: Cameron Mackintosh, Working Title Films
• Screenplay: TBA
• Director: Danny Boyle
• Cast: TBA
• Producer Cameron Mackintosh has said he would like to make a a film version of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s 1989 musical as a follow-up to Les Misérables.
• Latest Update: Has Miss Saigon Film Found Its Director? (3/11/16)

OLIVER!
• Production Company: Walt Disney Studios, Cube Vision, Marc Platt Productions
• Screenplay: Danny Strong
• Director: Thomas Kail
• Cast: Ice Cube
• A new film adaptation of Lionel Bart’s Tony Award-winning musical.
• Latest Update: Danny Strong to Pen Script for Disney’s Oliver! Remake, Directed by Hamilton’s Thomas Kail (1/18/2018)

PIPPIN
• Production Company: Storyline Entertainment
• Screenplay: TBA
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson’s musical.
• Latest Update: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron Will Partner with Weinstein Company for Film Version of Pippin (12/9/2013)

SPAMALOT
• Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox
• Screenplay: Eric Idle
• Director: Casey Nicholaw
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s Tony Award-winning musical.
• Latest Update: Movie Adaptation of Spamalot in the Works, Taps Casey Nicholaw as Director (5/3/2018)

SOUTH PACIFIC
• Production Company: Chicagofilms
• Screenplay: Lynn Grossman
• Director: Michael Mayer
• Cast: Hugh Jackman, Justin Timberlake, Michelle Williams
• A new film adaptation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, with a screenplay incorporating additional details from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.
• Latest Update: South Pacific, Directed by Michael Mayer, May Return to Screen With Michelle Williams (5/10/2013)

SPRING AWAKENING
• Production Company: Playtone
• Screenplay: Steven Sater
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s Tony Award-winning musical.
• Latest Update: Duncan Sheik Reveals Plans for Filming of American Psycho and Spring Awakening (4/28/2016)

SUNSET BOULEVARD
• Production Company: Paramount Pictures
• Screenplay: Christopher Hampton
• Director: TBA
• Cast: Glenn Close
• An adaptation of Andrew Lloyd WebberDon Black, and Christopher Hampton’s musical based on the classic Billy Wilder film.
• Latest Update: Sunset Boulevard, Starring Glenn Close, Inches Closer to the Big Screen (8/17/2017)

WEST SIDE STORY
• Production Company: Amblin Entertainment
• Screenplay: Tony Kushner
• Director: Steven Spielberg
• Cast: TBA
• A new film adaptation of Leonard BernsteinStephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents‘ classic musical.
• Latest Update: Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner West Side Story Remake Issues Casting Call (1/25/2018)

WICKED
• Production Company: Marc Platt Productions, Universal Pictures
• Screenplay: Winnie Holzman
• Director: Stephen Daldry
• Cast: TBA
• An adaptation of Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s popular musical about the life of the Wicked Witch of the West.
• Latest Update: Think You Know Everything About Wicked? Think Again. (7/10/2017)

Effective Teaching Methods

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part Two

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check out part one, will you?

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/why-you-should-use-these-effective-teaching-methods/

 

Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

I have a second teaching method which works wonders with any aged kid–I guarantee it!

ARTS INTEGRATION

You may wonder what arts integration is specifically.  Simply put, arts integration is a method used to teach the core subjects infusing them with the arts–music, art, dance and theatre.

From http://www.tealarts.org/arts-integration.html

“Arts integration is an approach to learning in which standards based objectives from the visual and performing arts (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts) and one or more other subject areas are aligned, met, and assessed.

Image result for students participating in arts integration

It is important to know that arts integration does not supplant single subject art classes like band, dance, drama or drawing, but instead is used to design robust lessons that engage students in the processes used in the arts, such as creative thinking and active learning.

Done with diligence and purpose, arts integration helps students flourish, deepen their learning, and make meaningful connections between the disciplines. Studies have shown that art experiences result increased academic achievement, self-confidence, motivation, and improved social-emotional connections and behavior.”

Don’t ya love it?

Remember in elementary school when you got to draw a picture about some scene in the book you were reading?  Or write a poem about a moment in history? Yeah, it’s like that.

When I was in my forties, a vocal music teacher friend of mine and I  wanted to pursue a masters in education but not in curriculum and instruction (a masters many educators receive.)  She did some research and ran onto the Lesley College which offered a Masters in Education focused on Creative Arts Learning (aka arts integration.)

This was an off site campus location and the professors came to us once a month for eighteen months while we studied the various elements of the arts and how to integrate them into the classroom.

Image result for art and math

My friend and I were ecstatic about the program! At the first class, we noticed there were several teachers lacking confidence and timid about their creativity. Well, that changed for the better by the end.  They fared as well or better than we did from the learning. Isn’t that great?

As I mentioned in part one I am now teaching college level students.  Since I was getting my feet wet with the material this first year, I hesitated to use arts integration to teach these college kids.  That was a mistake.

This fall, if I end up teaching for the college I will use arts integration right from the beginning.

It’s novel, it’s obviously creating, it’s very engaging and it’s fun.

Here are a few ideas for arts integreation in core subjects.

Students can:

  1.  Write a script depicting a particular time in history and act it out.
  2. Create a monologue of a famous person and perform it during an open house.
  3. Pen a poem about a country they are studying
  4. Draw and illustrate a picture demonstrating how the body works.
  5. Mold something from clay of a certain culture
  6. Create a rap about the U.S.’s fifty states and capitols
  7. Use movement to demonstrate the various types of clouds, how a typhoon is different from a tornado or the tetonic shifts in the ocean.
  8. Make a dance to accompany a piece of music from a time period which was studied.
  9. If you have musicians, ask them to play a piece of music to compliment the learning.  If the students are studying western expansions, a student could play a country western piece for example.
  10. When studying shapes, cut different ones for collages using basic geometry.  This helps teach and reinforce undrstanding of shapes.  Then as a group, incorporate them into a collage on a classroom wall.

As you can tell, the ideas are numerous.

Utilizing the arts in your classroom gives you energy, too.  Because every project will be creative, your intellect will be challenged.  This is essential for the teacher who plans to teach for many years.

Think about it–would it be more exciting to see what your students create and learn about a concept or merely you regurgitating material……for twenty-five years?

So, there you have it!  Try arts integration in your class or email me if you need help, I’m always willing to suggest ideas to interested teachers.  Rememeber, we are all in this together.

If you’d like more advice on teaching, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/the-12-steps-to-becoming-a-fantastic-drama-teacher-in-12-steps/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/05/10/the-lessons-i-learned-from-working-as-a-drama-teacher/

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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favorite Broadway musicals

The Reasons These Shows are My Favorite Broadway Musicals

 

Let’s talk about the reasons these shows are my favorite Broadway musicals. I adore Broadway musicals.  I admit it happily and freely with wild abandon. How do you choose which is your  favorite Broadway musical?

Last weekend we attended the University of Kansas production of Next to Normal (which was well done, I might add) and this Saturday we are seeing American in Paris at the Starlight Theatre.

For seven years,  my husband and I took tour groups of  students and families to New York.  We thought it would be a fitting way for our daughters to be introduced to the city if, in fact, they wanted to pursue a performing career.

Consequently, we saw many musicals while in NYC–twenty-one to be exact.

Broadway and West 34th St.

Favorite Musicals

On occasion, people ask me what are some of my favorite musicals which I’ve especially enjoyed attending.  Here they are in no particular order:

The Phantom of the Opera ( I’ve seen Phantom at least four times. However, a gal I performed with in Columbia, MO had been part of the cast at one time and  was able to take us backstage afterward.)

The Lion King (Took a tour and saw the costumes, masks and set up close and personal. Seen it twice–visually stunning.)

Wicked (We saw Wicked before it was popular and prior to the Tonys.  Got to see Kristen and Edina, too. I heard today Wicked has surpassed Phantom of the Opera as the second longest running musical on Broadway.) Read here:

http://www.playbill.com/article/wicked-surpasses-the-phantom-of-the-opera-as-second-highest-grossing-show-in-broadway-history

Les Mis ( I have seen Les Mis several times, but one performance included my student Becca Ayers in the cast.)

The Drowsy Chaperone (I laughed and laughed. This is one I’d like to direct.  It’s my kind of humor.)

Newsies (What can I say?  It was as much fun to see our kids (with tears in their eyes and  broad smiles)  meeting the cast afterwards as it was to see the show.)

Oklahoma!, Revival (A fella, Justin Bohon, who I directed once in Music Man in Columbia, MO portrayed Will Parker. We were all so proud to be able to say we knew someone in the production.)

If you are interested in advice about youth theatre productions to direct, check out this post:https://wordpress.com/post/dramamommaspeaks.com/550  

Schubert Alley

South Pacific, Revival  (Again, Becca Ayera was in the show. Got to see Kelly O’Hara, too.)

Mary Poppins (Oh my gosh, Mary flew right over us at the end of the show.  I wept.)

Rocky (Who’d think a musical about a boxer could be memorable? When the boxing ring was placed in the audience and Rocky boxed right in front of us, I was awe struck–so clever.)

Chicago (Our first tour was in March, less than a year after 9-11.  I will never forget how anxious we felt touring NYC, but Chicago distracted us from our worries and assuaged our fears of being in the city.  How?  Long legged female dancers and fabulous music!)

Why do I label them Broadway musicals?  Because it’s difficult to get your show to Broadway, like nearly impossible.  If your show is a. good enough b. backed by solid producers and c. timely or universal I think you have more an a chance to get there.  Just my opinion…..

What are your favorite Broadway musicals?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Think Too Much, a Special Kind of Spontaneity

I have a special kind of spontaneity.  Sometimes I do things with very little thought. I rely on my instinct.  That is better than me trying to control my thoughts, because whenever I do so it messes with my creativity-no joke! My spontaneity makes no sense at the time, but things pan out much better than I ever expected. This is what happens when you don’t think too much.

Falila

This is What Happens When You Don’t Think Too Much

Take last Wednesday, for instance.

Tim, Abby and I enjoyed story time at the library.  Afterward, Abby always likes to see the puffer fish one more time before we head home.  I took a seat near the Leggo table while she and Tim played oceanographers.

I noticed a family of five looking a little disillusioned. They sat quietly keeping to themselves.  I overhead a woman (much like me) say, “Come on.  I’ll take you there.” and leave with the adult male (who it turns out was Simeon, the father of the family.)

Time passed.

The family’s younger children, Jude and Esther, began to play with the wooden trains and stacked Leggos.  The mother spoke to her older son who looked to be in about eighth grade.

The mother was wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Bronx” on it.

Here was my chance.

Previously, I shared with you about a season in our life when we took school groups to NYC for spring break.  We did so for seven years.  I can always chat about our NYC experiences and given half a chance, I can get people talking.

At this point, I felt compelled to speak to the woman. Why?

No one else was speaking to them and no one sat by them.  Oh, please…..Because they had suitcases with them (why would they have suitcases in a library?) or the color of their skin? Either reason is ridiculous.

The mother’s hair was awesome, coiffed up high and a pretty black color.  Her open face and easy smile were charming.

I enjoy speaking with people.  In fact, it helps my mental health. So, I struck up a conversation with her first speaking about her hair, because I honestly thought it was terrific.

I moved closer to speak to Falila and our conversation lasted about fifteen minutes.  Turns out, Joel, her eighth grade son had qualified for the junior Olympics which were being held here in Lawrence at the new Rock Chalk park track.

How cool!  I congratulated him, asking when he was racing.  Falila said he would race on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Falila had a wonderful accent (she certainly didn’t sound like a New Yorker) and I asked her where she was from originally.

Nigeria– they were first generation immigrants.

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I was struck by Falila’s sweet countenance, her authenticity and the ease in which we chatted.  Honestly, I felt like we had been friends for years.

My husband and I aren’t really good at retiring.  We forget we can be spontaneous.  We have a tendency to look toward the weekend for anything recreational or social.

Oh, we thought, we can go to Joel’s race.  We are free to do so!

So we did.  Wow, that was quite an experience.

We are arts people.  We aren’t very aware of sports. Generally, I don’t even know which teams are in this year’s Super Bowl. Please don’t hold this against me…

These kids as young as twelve are tremendous athletes!  We were so impressed.  They were good sports and helped each other.  They cheered for one another and congratulated the winners of each heat.  During one race, a girl tripped and fell.  Four others quickly returned to make sure she was unharmed.  Impressive.

Joel did wonderfully for his first Jr. Olympics competition. He didn’t win his heat, but his parents were supportive and encouraging of Joel’s efforts and that’s all that matters.

The story gets better.

As we left the competitions, I asked the Afere family if they would like to have lunch with us on Saturday. We enjoyed speaking with them and wanted more conversation with them.

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You understand, these are total strangers, right?

Now, you are probably wondering why I would do such a thing.

 I am sick and tired of people being treated poorly, especially immigrants and people of color. 

I can’t fix the refugee crisis, nor the Muslim ban or the immigration conflict but I can be kind to an immigrant in a tough spot. I can be friendly and welcoming. If that means I rely on my special kind of spontaneity, so be it.

Please understand this family was independent and completely self reliant.  They came to the states all by themselves.  Simeon is  an engineer, gainfully employed as an inspector of buildings. Falila is a stay at home mom, but she has an accounting degree.

They didn’t need our help or hospitality.  I merely offered it.

You see, Joel was here without his track team or his coach.  He qualified for the competition only three weeks ago.  By then, there were very few air line tickets for a family of five to fly together.  Their only alternative was to take a bus.  This sweet family spent 30 hours riding a Greyhound bus clear across the country from NYC.

30 HOURS!!

That’s a family with fortitude.

The reason they were stranded at the library?  Simeon reserved a rental car and when he called to pick it up, the company stated they had no such reservation.

Their hotel was in Lenexa which is thirty miles away.  They were truly stranded.

Later in the afternoon, it all worked out and they were able to rent another car and get themselves around the area the rest of the weekend.

The Afere family came to lunch and stayed for three hours.  My mother always told me if people stay a long time at your party, then they are having a good time.

I filled them with a typical American lunch–turkey and roast beef sandwiches, chips, yummy pistachio fluff salad and brownies.  The children didn’t eat much of it, because they are used to their mother’s Nigerian food, understandably. Sliced apple seemed to be a hit as was ice cream, but isn’t it always?

Over lunch, we talked about the U.S., the fact that there is no social welfare program in Nigeria, their experiences living in NYC for ten years and the stressors of living there, what they want for their children and what was most important to them.

Have you ever inspired someone?  Have you helped them dream?

It seems the longer they had been here, the more the Aferes liked the idea of moving away from the city– maybe Texas, Florida or somewhere Simeon’s engineering company would transfer him?

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Or maybe the mid west?  They liked it here, the friendliness of the people and the natural beauty of Kansas which many people never even notice.

Tim showed Simeon a realty site in Columbia, MO where we lived for thirty years.  We aren’t as familiar with Lawrence as we are with Columbia.

We think Columbia is a terrific place to raise your children.  Every parent wants their child to have a good education and Columbia can provide this.  We urged the Aferes to give it some thought and keep us abreast of their decision.  It was heart warming to help such a great family.

We are not experts nor do we have many experiences with an immigrant family.

But we have one thing in common–we are Americans and we want the best for our family.

Simple as that.

I challenge you to do the same.  The next time you see a family who looks lost, frazzled or needing assistance ask them if you can help them.  They may not need your help, but it’s worth the effort.

Don’t think about it. Trust your instincts. Take a chance.

Be the person your momma raised you to be–friendly and kind.  Show some hard working, determined newcomers what it really means to be an American. Try some spontaneity–my special kind.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

I’d love to hear from you.

Falila

 

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part One

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check back for part two, will you?

Map, Learn, School, Courage, Training, Skills, Teaching

Soon it will be the fourth of July.  You know what that means don’t ya?

We are about half way through summer vacation for our overworked, underpaid teachers.

Hopefully, these education warriors are not spending their whole vacation sitting in professional development classes or reading yet another book on whatever trendy subject is being discussed in September at a faculty meeting.

I hope they are sitting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by a stream, listening to the water as it slips over the rocks and cools the air. (This is one of my favorite memories in my life which I draw from time to time.)

Now, I taught drama classes for thirty-eight years.  That, my friend, is a heck of a long time.

The wisdom I am about to impart to you is my personal teaching method which works every.single.time.  I’ll say that again:  every.single.time

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I believe in using the multiple intelligences…period.

From the American Institute of Learning and Human Development website,

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

              Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

              Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

              Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

              Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

              Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

              Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

              Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

              Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Just like Dr. Gardner, I present my lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more.

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The most important question I know some educators have is whether each intelligence must be addressed with every lesson.  

The answer is a resounding, no!  But I bet if you use several methods over the course of a unit or several lessons, the students will be more engaged than the traditional methods of textbook and worksheets.

Case in point, my Theatre Appreciation class I taught this last semester at Neosho Community College in Ottawa, Kansas.

This was my first time to teach the class and I must say, it was a doozy for me.

Some challenges:

  • only four students (three were seniors in high school and one was twenty-three years old) enrolled
  • since Neosho is a commuter campus, a theater and its many aspects were unavailable to me
  • the class fulfilled a Humanities requirement, so the students didn’t necessarily take the class because they wanted to but needed the hours in order to graduate
  • although I had a teacher’s manual, powerpoint templates and test banks (which didn’t always coincide with the teacher’s manual), the scope of learning was massive!

In short, I created every lesson in the semester with very little help (oh, and forget using another professor’s syllabus supplement to help me, all the professors I found pn line planned it differently.)

At first, I tried the usual I-lecture-you-take-notes format.  Ugh…I’m embarassed to even admit that to you. It was excruciatingly boring for the students and myself.

What did work was assigning vocabulary words from each chapter and requiring the students to create flashcards on Quizlet.com. These vocabulary words spoke to those with Linguistic Intelligence.

I learned the students needed visual examples of the various times periods in theatre history.  That’s where youtube.com came in.  It was great help and the wealth of videos about theatre history, live performances of plays and musicals was extensive. Whew!  Suddenly, the learning came alive.

We attended a live performance of a play produced at the University of Kansas.  At the time, I wasn’t certain they appreciated the production, but later they mentioned the play to me several times.

Spatial Intelligence was addressed and it worked well for all of them.

I knew I could do better by them, but this was my first time teaching the material. I thought I should use a more traditional teaching method since these students came from rural school systems in general.  This might be an exagerration, but I have discovered in the past rural schools are less advanced or innovative. I could tell they were used to books and worksheets, good or not.

So, I did what I knew I should have done from the beginning–I used multiple intelligences.

Nearing the end of the semester, I assigned the students a project on a particular play they read.  Each one had a responsibility to learn about the job of that designer and the responsibilities of them, design either costumes (4 costumes), set (1 set with furniture and curtains, etc.), props (2 props specifically for the play)  or sound for the production (a sound plot and sound bites for several sounds, preshow and post show music.) Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Additionally, they had to work with their peers pulling their ideas together as an artistic team would do for a production. Check off Interpersonal Intelligence!

Lastly, they were to share their learning with us.

They LOVED the assignment.  Please understand these were students who swore to me, “Mrs. Baldwin, I’m not at all creative.  I can’t possibly do this!”  However, by the end of the learning and sharing, they enjoyed it so much they suggested to me that I do more of this next time.

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Aha! As I mentioned I knew that all ready, but it is always better when your students confirm your opinion.

I am by no means an expert on  teaching through the multiple intelligences, but using this method works for me every time.

It is fun, creative, allows for varied learning styles, skills and provides differentiated instruction.  You can’t beat that, can you?

What are your favorite teaching methods?  As a drama teacher, I model my expected outcome on a daily basis it seems.  Have you ever modeled for your students?  How did it go?

I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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girl holding crystal ball

The Unofficial Fortune Teller’s Guide to Becoming a Fantastic Teacher in 12 Steps

 

fortune teller's guide

Here it is—the unofficial fortune teller’s guide to becoing a fantastic teacher in 12 steps. Although, I speak specifically about teaching drama, this post will relate to any teacher.

rubistar.4teachers.org

If you don’t know about rubistar.4teachers.org you need to!  (This is a side note for you. It isn’t really a step, but do check them out for quick, efficient, comprehensive rubric templates.) rubistar.4teachers.org

People don’t ask me for the guide to becoming a fantastic drama teacher.

They never directly ask me. They ask around the question.  I think they are afraid of what I might say.  Teehee….I’m known for being honest.

So they say, “I was thinking I would like to do something in life that uses my love for theatre.” Or “I don’t think I would make it on Broadway, but I’d still like to be involved in theatre and make a living from it.”

They look at me with a smile hopeful for the answer they desire.

No pressure there….

I’m not a fortune teller, although one time for a radio commercial,  I portrayed the fortune teller, Madame Zula, a  wacky woman who extolled important facts about crop fertilizer. (My producer won a regional award for it, BTW.)

You’re laughing, I know.

fortune teller's guide

Although I might think you have the talent to succeed on Broadway, that isn’t something I can promise or even prophesy. Nor can I project whether you’ll be successful as a teacher.

There are many factors which create your success in the field of professional theatre, many of which you and I have no control. Any worthwhile pursuit has the same challenges.

If you listen to many successful performers, they will tell you that some of it is a.being at the right place at the right time b. fortitude in the face of many rejections c. a willingness to do anything and everything to make it happen and maybe d. talent.

Technical theatre artists will share the same experiences with you.  They worked at it.  They created a resume.  They worked for little pay and so on.

Here’s a secret:  If someone tells you it was easy to become wildly successful in a certain profession, (doctor, lawyer, counselor, nurse, banker, actor or teacher) they are lying. 

fortune teller's guide

As your unofficial fortune teller, here is a guide with twelve steps which will help you become a successful drama teacher over time:

1. Attend a college or university with a strong theatre AND education program and enroll for classes in both.  If you desire to teach in a traditional school setting, you’ll need your state teachers license.  Just like many other professions, teachers must study certain pedagogy from basic theory of education classes to student teaching.

The same will be expected of you if you want to receive a theatre degree.  Study as many facets of theatre as you can then you are an easy hire for someone.  If you only focus on technical theatre or performing, you are less likely to be hired in a school or maybe a theatre company.  You want to be versatile.

2. Participate in professional organizations in theatre, drama education and general education.  You need to be versed in the latest trends in all areas.

3. Participate in your school’s productions.  This is such a duh.  Some schools require backstage hours for their performing majors.  My college did, Stephens college, and I am forever grateful to them for this.  I learned heaps.  Some thirty-eight years later, I still use the lessons I learned in my college classes when I teach or direct.

An employer wants to hire someone who is very knowledgeable, not someone who spent all his or her time socializing rather than broadening their horizons.

fortune teller's guide

4. Get involved in a community theatre.  They will welcome you with open arms, because they need volunteers to support their productions– running lights, designing costumes, acting or serving on staff as a stage manager or even a director. Accept the job even if you are not offered a stipend.  Think of the work like interning.

Build your resume with various experiences.

5.  Volunteer your time to a school mentoring students through an after school program or an organization such as Scouts or 4H.  This gives you insight about how best to work with students.  It also helps you become accustomed to their latest social behaviors and slang.  This is invaluable experience.  I can’t stress this enough.

If you can, volunteer for different organizations with a diverse community.  Our classrooms are multicultural.  There is an art to teaching students simultaneously from all walks of life.  If you have never helped a disadvantaged student or an immigrant, you’ll have a  bigger learning curve to overcome.  Their lives are very different from yours and it’s your job to figure out how to support them.

6.  The best teachers are passionate about their subject matter and sincerely interested in bettering the world through teaching young people. So be that!  Please do not become a teacher because you didn’t know what else to do with your degree (or you thought you’d have your summers off-hahahaha!).  There is nothing worse than a bitter teacher. You know the kind who mumble how she wishes she had been a professional actor and are stupidly arrogant? Yeah, we won’t need that kind of person in our classrooms.

Trust me, teaching is difficult enough on its own.  Compounding your classroom challenges with apathy is a crime in my book.

7.  Teaching is rigorous work.  It is very tiring and all consuming.  Unless you’ve had previous experience teaching twenty bursts of energy and emotion all at once, you’ll never understand it. You gotta get in there and try it–at least for three years.     Like those professional actors that you can’t tell are acting, good teachers make it seem easy to do.  It. is. not.

fortune teller's guide

8.  Once employed, although you may think your career has finally begun your education has not ended.  Now, you’ll learn about the inner workings of your school, bureaucracy, policies, regulations, etc.  You’ll  practice becoming more organized, keep yourself healthy,  juggle your professional and personal time, become a shoulder for others to cry on, learn to listen to your superiors and to a student who has lamented continuously for several months to you about their life.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the deal.

9.  You want to be good at teaching?  Buy clothes in your school colors.  Wear them. Buy the school spirit wear.  If your cast buys cast tee shirts, you do so, too.

10.  Attend other school sponsored activities–football games, fundraisers, band concerts and TGIF’s for staff.

11.  Help other teachers and staff members.  Take their lunch shift if you observe a teacher who needs a break.  Take out your own trash for your janitor once in a while and THANK THEM for their work to keep your room tidy.  Get to know your school head secretary.  They can make or break you.  Trust me, if there is anyone who knows the school’s scuttle butt, it’s the head secretary.

12.  Finally, be the teacher you wanted when you were a student.  I liked my teachers who were organized, funny, clever, innovative, challenging, held high expectations and sincere.  Guess what?  I’ve become that teacher, too.

If you look at your life as a journey, you’ll appreciate and accept that any journey takes a long time to prepare, depart, travel and arrive at your destination. Teaching is much the same way.

fortune teller's guide

I promise you, it can be a wonderful journey.

Bon voyage!

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net

Following me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DeborahHBaldwin

on Facebook at BumblingBea

 

 

Are You Missing These Kind of People in Your Life?

Are you missing these people in your life?  What is special about community theatre actors?

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That’s my student portraying Mary Poppins!

This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  I have a very long relationship with community theatre.  I helped to create one in Columbia, Missouri back in 1979 I believe.  It is still in existence today.

In fact, I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays while being involved with  Columbia Entertainment Company.  You can find more information about the contest at:  Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

But I digress…

Sometimes, although less now than in the past, people who aren’t involved in community theatre have sort of scoffed at it.  As though the people who enjoyed it were dopey or something.

It is no different than playing on a adult intramural soccer team or bowling with your league buddies.  My community theatre friends just enjoy performing on a stage under stage lights.  (It’s the next closest thing to playing dress up and make believe and didn’t we all enjoy that when we were kids?)

summer theater 1

Community theatre actors come from all walks of life. Many simply love theatre, but chose to have another vocation other than performing.

I direct many doctors, lawyers, teachers, fireman, policeman, nurses, college students, business people,  and whole families from the youngest only six years old to the eldest in their eighties.  I  work with people from television shows I watched several decades ago.

I have a varied acting resume as well. Through community theatre, I’ve been directed by a Yale graduate, a Broadway professional, a high school drama director and even a priest!

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What is special about community theatre actors (and let’s not forget all the technical people either,) is the comradery one feels when you work with them.  There is simply no other group of people quite so warm and supportive.

Think about it.  These people put in an eight hour day at their jobs, rush home to eat a bit of dinner and head out to the theatre in under an hour.

It can be grueling and…it can be boring but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun! Many times they rehearse for three hours with no breaks. Or they sit around for an hour and chat with their cast members while they wait to rehearse.  It’s all part of the experience.  (Note:  Professional theater can look the same.)

They memorize their lines while driving in their cars, during lunch breaks or watching their child’s soccer games. I am sure there were times where my husband and/or daughters knew my lines as well as I did from quizzing me on them.

Usually, community theatre actors bring in their own personal items to fill out their costume.  It is not uncommon for them to purchase several pairs of dance shoes, tights, leotards, wigs or purchase contact eye wear since they can’t wear their modern glasses in a play set in the 1800s.

But the costumes can be outstanding and exciting to wear.  These aren’t generic Halloween costumes or something dragged out of an attic.  I’ve had costumes custom made especially for me.  Here is one from Cricket on the Hearth:

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Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth” a straight role

The men are known to grow mustaches or beards if need be.  Or the opposite.  They’ll cut off their long hair or shave off their beards if it gives them a look of  authenticity. Women have dyed their hair for a role as well.

If the show is a musical, the musicians bring in their own instruments, music stands and whole drum sets. I know some musicians accompany for little to no stipend.  That’s okay with them. They enjoy the experience just as much as the cast.

Building the deck: Anna Townswick, Indigo Fish, Jesse Fish on top of the structure. (Photo: Mette Hammer)

You want to talk about a time commitment?

Usually the rehearsal schedule is four or five evenings straight for about six weeks and then the run of the show.  A spouse might not see their partner for weeks on end. (If the spouse is smart, they’ll get involved in some capacity and now the couple with something new to talk about!)

Sometimes the actor will help build or paint the set, create props or sew a costume or two on the weekends. And….when the show is over, they help strike the set!

They throw the BEST cast parties too.  Check out one my favorite cast party recipes here:

Easy Peasy Party Appetizer #1

Easy Peasy Party Appetizer #2

Easy Peasy Appetizer Recipe #3

They hand out gag gifts, act in funny parodies of songs from the show or sit around singing songs from the show yet. another. time.

They can go overboard a little, but that’s because the experience is very intense.  I’ve even been known to have separation anxiety from my cast members and that’s the worst feeling of all.

Image result for community theatre cast party

But they persevere and sign up for the next audition or merely serve as ushers, but generally they continue to be involved in some capacity.

In other words, they are completely invested in the production!

So the next time, you see your neighbor dash off to rehearsal and he doesn’t have time to chat, just remember he isn’t sitting around home in front of the television or on his phone. He could be sitting around wasting his time, but he’s not.

He is doing theatre and he loves it!

Sound like fun to you?  Try it.

The American Association of Community Theaters is a not for profit organization which can give you more information about community theatre and a whole hosts of subjects you might be interested in.  Check them out here:  https://www.aact.org

What community theatre productions have you been involved in?  Tell me about it.  I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

Summer is here which means, at least this summer, I am busy creating products for my Teacherspayteachers.com store. You can find my products at: Teacherspayteachersstore

I am now selling my lesson plans and units on Teacherspayteachers.com.  This has been a goal of mine for several years. I kept procrastinating because I figured no one would be interested in my products in drama education.

Nay nay, I say….(I heard a comic say that once and it cracked me up!)

So far, I have available eight products to purchase for grades second through ninth. This last one, Sedna, an Innuit Tale is probably one of the most involved.

I adapted multicultural stories when I taught in a middle school for twelve years. There was simply very little material for class plays and that is what I needed. Desperation is the mother of invention.

Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale is a fifteen minute play suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. A drama class, reading group, Social Studies will find this very useful.

My husband, a retired instrumental music teacher with lots of composing experience, created a song remniscent of the Inuit culture’s music.This will be a terrific co-teaching experience, too! I can see a drama teacher and vocal music teacher working in tandem on the piece. Such a great opportunity for learning. You know?

Included in the product is:

  • warm up
  • procedure or rehearsal schedule
  • six page script
  • stage properties list
  • sound effects list
  • original song reminiscent of the Innuit culture
  • recording of the melody with the accompaniament
  • source list with suggestions for masks and dances,
  •  properties list

The Sedna story is very dramatic and exciting.

Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea. According to most versions of the legend Sedna was once a beautiful mortal woman who became the ruler of Adlivun (the Inuit underworld at the bottom of the sea) after her father threw her out of his kayak into the ocean. Sedna’s fingers, which her father had to cut off to keep her from clinging to the side of the boat, are often said to have turned into the first sea mammals.

The other details of Sedna’s story are told differently in different Inuit/Eskimo communities– sometimes she provoked her father’s rage by attacking him or violating cultural taboos, while other times her father was selfishly trying to save his own life by sacrificing Sedna.

Of course, my version of Sedna isn’t quite so gruesome, but creation myths can be very dramatic and Sedna follows suit with other mythological fables.

If you are interested in purchasing Sedna, check her out at:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SEDNA-AN-INNUIT-TALE-A-FIFTEEN-MINUTE-PLAY-3828901?aref=42bwyx2n

If you are interested in other products of mine, click here to see a few:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/COSTUME-DESIGN-WITH-CIRCUS-PERFORMERS-3799450

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/OJI-SAN-AND-THE-GRATEFUL-STATUES-TEN-MINUTE-PLAY-WITH-MUSIC-3592728

Do you need a story dramatized but don’t have the time to do it yourself?  No problem.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com and we’ll talk!  I’d love to help you.

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Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

Start a Playwriting Contest in 20 Easy Steps

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Twenty-nine years ago, I was president of a community theatre, the Columbia Entertainment Company, in Columbia, Missouri.  Also, I was the director of a youth theatre program for them.   I volunteered hundreds of hours to both programs. It was an amazing learning experience and one that I draw upon from time to time in my career.

Here is the story of probably the most important thing we did in this company:  We created a national playwriting contest for large cast youth theatre plays.  It is called the Jackie White National Playwriting Award Contest and still in existence to this day.  That’s a long time for a contest of this nature to flourish, especially sponsored by a community theatre.

columbia-entertainment-company

The Origin

Thirty years ago I was a young woman who needed scripts for large student casts—over thirty students in number, ages fourth through ninth grade.  At the time, there were very few plays to choose from, much less musicals for kids.

 I lamented to a board I was having a difficult time finding any suitable plays for the season. In the past, I pad the roles with extra non-speaking characters or ones with little ad libs, but what I really needed was youth theatre plays with large casts, period. The board member suggested our company create our own playwriting contest specifically for this purpose.

So, really out of desperation, we created one!

Please understand, we had NO idea what we were doing.  We merely figured it out as we progressed.  It took us a few years to perfect the contest, but it is still one of the most valuable programs the theatre created.

The Why

Generally, playwrights need their plays or musicals to be produced before a publishing company will represent them. The Denver Performing Arts Center sponsors a New Play Summit each year in February.

Their contest is very clever.  The first time the winning entries are produced as stage readings with minimal set and costumes.  The audience gives feedback after the performance through a survey.

If the play suits DPAC’s needs, during the next season, they mount a full production of it.  My husband and I have attended several years of the New Play Summit and enjoyed being part of the creative process. We feel more invested in the play, because we offered our suggestions. Whether DPAC intends to or not, this is a terrific way to encourage audience members to return to see the production once it is produced.

Your contest could be created by your drama class, community theatre or even youth group.  There is no end to the possibilities a contest of this type affords a group. The contest can be as big or small as your group desires. You could sponsor whatever kind of contest you want—a ten minute plays, musicals for youth theatre, plays focused on bullying or plays concerning tolerance. It’s all up to you.

Now before you look at these questions and think is an overwhelming project, I want you to consider the people who will receive such fulfillment from the contest. Playwrights are always seeking places to get their plays read and produced.  That could be you!

Here are some questions to contemplate when creating your own playwriting contest:

1)      What is the mission of our contest?  What is our end result?  Are we looking for something particular subject to be explored? Reach a particular audience? Attract an underserved demographic?

2)      What are the requirements of the winning script?  Cast size, gender and age of characters, length of play or musical, set, costumes props and the feasibility of producing the script within the confines of our budget are all important questions to consider.

3)       Is any subject taboo? In some social circles, certain subjects are considered appropriate.

4)      How about inappropriate language?

5)      Should we charge a fee to enter the contest?  How much?

6)      Are there granting agencies or donors we could approach to fund the contest?

7)      What is our budget to spend to advertise the contest?

8)      What free media sources will we use to publicize the contest?

9)      Will we fully mount the winning entry?

10)  Should we present a stage reading?

11)  Can anyone enter the contest? Are we seeking only student scripts or adults?

12)  Who will read the scripts and make the final decision on the awardee?

13)  Will we award 1st 2nd and 3rd place awards as well as honorable mention? How many honorable mentions?

14)  What will the winner receive?  A cash award, gift, certificate, life time season tickets?

15)  Where will the cash award money come from? A donor?  A service organization? Your city’s arts council?

16)  After the awardee is selected, will we publicize the winner?

17)  Do we want to bring the winning playwright to the performance?

18)   If the winning playwright attends, is it our responsibility to provide room and board to them?

19)  If the playwright is present, do we want to host a social in their honor?

20)  What is our time line?

A Contest with Their Head in the Right Place 

I am an indie author, too. Recently, I ran upon an indie author book contest in England created by a popular children’s author, Edward Trayer.  The Whistling Shelf Award is a fairly new contest.

When I was perusing his website regarding it, I discovered he charges an entrance fee and donates a portion of money to the Blind Children fund in England. Now, that’s my kind of author.  Because of this, I quickly entered my book, Bumbling Bea into its competition.  I look forward to this year’s awards.

I believe in philanthropy and I believe in the power of theatre.  I bet you do, too.

Try your hand creating a playwriting contest. The Jackie White National Children’s Play Writing Contest is one of the most important programs the Columbia Entertainment Company ever created.

If a desperate, young director like me with no experience creating a contest can be successful, so can you!

Denver Performing Arts Center New Play Summit:

http://www.denvercenter.org/events/colorado-new-play-summit

Wishing Shelf Book Awards

http://www.thewsa.co.uk/

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you!

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