Eighth Grade Movie

A Movie You Want to See This Weekend

Eighth Grade Movie

There is a movie you want to see this weekend about an eighth grade girl. It is aptly titled, Eighth Grade.

I’m thrilled!

Eighth grade is probably one of the toughest times in a person’s life, don’t you agree?

I’m guessing most of you reading my blog have survived eighth grade, too.

That’s why I wrote my middle grade book Bumbling Bea.

If you’d like more information about Bumbling Bea, check it out here: Bumbling Bea

Here’s a trailer from the film:

In my book, Bumbling Bea the main character, Beatrice is a lot like Elsie.   Both are the epitome of an eighth grade girl and I’m glad someone has finally shone a light on this awkward age.

Why is this such a difficult time in a young person’s life?

Think about it–everything is changing.



Hormones (or as a friend of mine says, “their whores are a moanin'”)

Image result for teen bullying

They aren’t little kids protected by their elementary teachers anymore.  They are only a few months away from high school which for them feels like adulthood is looming right around the corner.

And it is looming around the corner…

Society thrusts them into young adult hood too fast or we hold them back too much trying to shield them from the world.

Man, what a balancing act for all of us.

I’m excited to see how someone else addresses what it is like for eighth grade girls.

I wrote Bumbling Bea because I think eighth grade girls are forgotten.  If you haven’t read my book, here is a quick synopsis just to whet your appetite.

Beatrice thinks she has no acting talent but that doesn’t stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play. Easy! Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything! So begins Beatrice’s diabolical plan to scare away Michiko. But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon. Then there’s that “other” girl who is such a blabber mouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.

Bumbling Bea

This isn’t your ordinary middle school experience either.  My story is full of conflict from Beatrice and Michiko, to Beatrice’s parents impending divorce and Michiko’s problems with her demanding mother, to a first cruch, poison ivy, flag dinners, paper airplanes and crazy antics during the play performance.

I’m hoping to see “Eighth Grade” this weekend, but until then I’ll think about my experiences in eighth grade.

I know my life wasn’t as fraught with drama as Beatrice’s.

Times were different from now of course.

We didn’t have cell phones are sexting, but we did have note writing and lots of telephone talking. I remember cheerleading (the closest thing I could get to performing), piano practicing, pimples, my hair on sponge curlers, makeup and panty hose.  I had a boy friend for an entire year and I felt so special because of it. (There was LOTS of making out which I’m sure my mother was aghast by but never said anything.)

I was a Girl Scout, too so I was trying to walk the very slim line of being a good girl AND trying to be part of the crowd.  Even now I can feel the angst of that.

So remember, if you have time this weekend a movie to see is “Eighth Grade”.  Give yourself a little treat or take a childhood friend with you.  I’d love to hear from you after you see it.

Until then.

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


Shakespeare in the Park

What is Shakespeare in the Park and Why Should You Like It?

“What is Shakespere in the Park and why should you like it?” students ask me.

I dodge the question, because….

I have never seen a Shakespeare in the Park production. (Ok, don’t judge me.)

Have you?

Image result for new york's shakespeare in the park

I bet it is super cool, though.

I’ve often wondered who created it. Here is what I found out.

From Wickipedia,

“Shakespeare in the Park is a term for outdoor festivals featuring productions of William Shakespeare‘s plays. The term originated with the New York Shakespeare Festival in New York City‘s Central Park, originally created by Joseph Papp. This concept has been adapted by many theatre companies, and over time, this name has expanded to encompass outdoor theatre productions of the playwright’s works performed all over the world.

Shakespeare in the Park started as an idea to make theatre available to people of all walks of life, so that it would be as readily available as library books.[1] The performances are more often than not free admission to the general public, usually presented outdoors as a summer event. These types of performances can be seen by audiences around the world, with most festivals adapting the name for their productions, such as Vancouver‘s Bard on the Beach. Many festivals incorporate workshops, food, and other additions to the performances making this type of theatre experience an interactive community event.”


So FREE  admission to a play by the Bard.  That’s great! Anyone can attend from any walk of life.  That’s the way theatre should always be presented.

Here are cities in the U.S. who have Shakespeare in the Park:


The Montford Park Players, a community theater company, has been staging free Shakespeare productions in Asheville, North Carolina since 1973. The productions were first staged at a municipal park on Montford Avenue and, in 1993, moved to its current location, the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre.[2]


The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival present productions outdoors each summer in the Meadow at the Evergreen Museum & Library.[3]


Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents professional productions of Shakespeare in Boston Common. The first production was in 1996 at Copley Square; a year later the program was moved to the Commons, first at the Parkman Bandstand and more recently at the Parade Ground.[4]


Shakespeare in Delaware Park describes itself as the United States’ 2nd largest Shakespeare festival (following New York Shakespeare Festival). It is held in Buffalo, New York‘s Delaware Park.[5]

Image result for shakespeare in the park in buffalo ny

Buffalo’s production of Hamlet, the witches.


Inspired by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Robert “Bob” Glenn started The Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1971 as a free summer Shakespeare Festival. Renamed Shakespeare Dallas in 2005, the company produces three free Shakespeare productions each summer at the Samuel-Grand Amphitheatre in Lakewood.[6]

Jersey City

The Hudson Shakespeare Company, founded by L. Robert Johnson in 1992, features a summer season where the company stages productions for each month of the summer. Besides Shakespeare standards such as Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, they often produce one to two lesser done productions a season such as The Two Noble KinsmenCardenio and Henry VIII. Based in Jersey City, NJ, they also tour as part of their summer season to other New Jersey locations such as Fort LeeHackensackKenilworthHobokenWest Milford and also to Stratford, CT[7]

Kansas City

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival was founded by Tony winning Broadway producer Marilyn Strauss in 1993 at the urging of Joe Papp[8] with a production of The Tempestin Southmoreland Park. In 1998, they began to produce two productions per year, with a total of 23 production at the start of the 2011 season.[9]


Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit, professional theatre company in Louisville, Kentucky that produces and performs the works of William Shakespeare. The main productions offered are the annual summer series of plays presented free to the public at Central Park. This series, commonly called “Shakespeare in Central Park”, sprung from an initial production in the park by The Carriage House Players in the summer of 1960. They also perform shows in other venues, as well as conduct educational programs related to acting and other theater-related skills.

New York City

The original Shakespeare in the Park was founded in 1954 by Joseph Papp as the New York Shakespeare Festival, which eventually led to free public performances in Central Park.[3] Since 1961 an outdoor amphitheatre, the Delacorte Theatre, has accommodated these productions. Many celebrity actors have worked the Delacorte.[10] People often line up in the morning to assure tickets for the evening performance.[11] Many seasons have featured works by other playwrights, including Bertolt Brecht and Samuel Beckett.[12]



Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet production in Clark Park

This Philadelphia theater company offers the largest, free outdoor production of Shakespeare’s plays in the greater Philadelphia area. Shakespeare in Clark Park was formed in the fall of 2005 by Marla Burkholder, Maria Möller, Tom Reing and Whitney Estrin. In their inaugural season, Shakespeare in Clark Park presented four performances of Twelfth Night, drawing an audience of over 2,000 people. Those audiences have grown to over 5,000 and the annual show has become a staple of summer in Philly.[15]


Jennifer Tober founded Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks in 2005. Their performances are free and utilize various public parks in the Pittsburgh area.[16][17]


The Rochester Community Players have staged free Shakespeare productions at the Highland Bowl in Highland Park each July since 1997.

San Francisco

Free Shakespeare in the Park began in San Francisco in 1983, with its debut production of The Tempest in Golden Gate Park. Produced every year in San Francisco, PleasantonCupertino, and Redwood City from July through September, this program stages professional theater free of charge throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.[18]

San Pedro

Shakespeare by the Sea was launched in 1998 by Producing Artistic Director Lisa Coffi. It presents free Shakespeare productions in San Pedro, Los Angeles and throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.[19]


Since 1989, GreenStage has been producing free Shakespeare in major parks in and around Seattle. In 2014, they completed the entire Shakespeare canon.[20]

In 1994, a theater company called the Wooden O started annual summer Shakespeare performances at the Luther Burbank Amphitheater on Mercer Island, Washington. In later years park venues including Lynnwood, Washington and Auburn, Washington were added. In the spring of 2008 the Seattle Shakespeare Company merged with Wooden O and continues to present free Shakespeare productions throughout the Puget Sound region.[21]

South Dakota

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) was formed in 2011 and launched its inaugural season in Vermillion, South Dakota, in June 2012. Since the summer of 2012 the SDSF has been offering fully produced professional Shakespeare performances in Vermillion’s Prentis Park and daytime arts educational offerings for youth and adults. |


Michael J. Trout and Richard G. Fallon Founded the Southern Shakespeare Festival and Renaissance Fair in 1996. It is held in Tallahassee, Florida‘s Kleman Plaza Tallahassee before it became the location of a parking garage. Currently, being organized for re-launch.

Canada, our dear neighbor to the north, has quite a few SITP productions.   (Love those Canadians…)

Austrailia and New Zealand, too!


I had no idea there was so much Shakespeare being produced, but I guess it’s stands to reason considering how much we all love Shakespeare.  

Have you attended a Shakespeare in the Park performance? I bet you liked it.  I’d love to hear about it.

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

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The Reasons You Want to be the String

The Reasons You Want to Be the String

Here are the reasons why you want to be the string.

Let’s talk about well meaning parents who take their parenting job way too far and drive themselves and their kids crazy.


Yes, folks,  we call these parents “helicopter parents.”

Here is a story for you:

My perfect granddaughter (only joking….sort of) is nearly two years old.  She is beginning to venture out on her own within the invisible perameters of her parents’ watchful eyes and ears. At this point, you might label my daughter and her husband as helicopter parents, but you are incorrect!  They are protectful and engaged.

My daughter, her mother, tells me my granddaughter is willfull (nah), headstrong (I haven’t seen it) and likes to be in charge (this could be a valid descriptor as she is a Leo and we Leos love being the boss.)

Can’t all two year olds be described that way?

Here is where my daughter is healthy–she lets my granddaughter experience the outcome of her choices–just a little bit.

For instance, if Mom warns you not to walk on the hot wood boardwalk around the swimming pool because it could hurt your feet and you do so anyway, you learn pretty quickly that hey, that wood is hot and maybe I shouldn’t walk on it.

It is when the guarding goes on for too many years and/or smothering the child becomes the norm that we have trouble.  

Sun Children Drawing Image Drawing Paint C

From a Parents Magazine article”What is Helicopter Parenting”,

“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969  book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a  dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,”cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.”

Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment  of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To                       Guide.

“They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences  and, specifically, their successes or failures,” Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way   that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.”

Girl, Mother, Daughter, Mum, People

It is tough to stand back and watch your child struggle. We all struggle from time to time. That’s life.

How, then, do you remain an involved parent without jumping over the parental cliff?

As a mother of two grown daughters,drama teacher  and youth theatre director for thirty-eight years I have a few suggestions.

If you think you are a parent careening over the cliff, I suggest you:

  1.  Breathe, honestly take a few deep breaths and count between them
  2. Avoid knee jerk reactions to situations. Give time a chance to rectify the problem.
  3. Keep a sense of humor
  4. Remember this is a season in your child’s life–nothing ever lasts forever
  5. Find a friend or relative who can listen to you vent your concerns (make sure they know you are venting, too)
  6. Understand the situation your child’s teacher, director, coach or youth program leader is in and try see it from their perspective
  7. Get a hobby, a pet or discover a new interest of yours–you are still a good parent if you have your own life
  8. This one is a biggie! Think about your own childhood and do your best not to fix everything you thought went wrong then by doing it better this time around with your child.

It hurts to see your child hurting, I understand that. Honestly, it will hurt MORE in the long run if you step in and save your kid every time something doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Teach your child the value of rigor, challenge and strife.  There are some values to them, you know.  Whenever I am going through something difficult, I like to analyze the situation.

I say aloud, “Okay, this is not the first time in the world someone has goofed up on a job interview.  What can I learn from it?”

If I step back from the issue, mistake or challenge and analyze it, it makes the event less important and takes away whatever emotion or perceived value I have placed on it. 

If you don’t stop being overbearing, you will raise a neurotic child who becomes a dysfuntional adult who runs from challenges every time they are faced with them, be it a job interview, an audition, a auto accident, peer pressure, a romantic relationship break up or argument.

You want to raise a child who becomes an adult who is a healthy, contributing member of society. 

If you think about your own life, I bet you remember what the tough, awkward and uncomfortable moments taught you more than the good ones.  These challenges make you stronger and more able to withstand the next time something doesn’t work out for you.

I know a very talented, beautiful, promising young woman who auditioned for every production and was always the one who lost the lead role to someone else.  This occurred for years.

She didn’t give up.  Later, she went on to compete in the Miss America contest, won at the state level and was fourth runner up in the national contest.

That’s not too shabby.

I am aquainted with her parents.  They owned several apartment buildings and local shoe stores.  She learned a lot from them about how to be professional and business like.  Now she owns a thriving business. Life continued to happen to her of course, but she took it in stride.  She is exemplary single mother raising her daughter.

Parents should be less helicopters and more the string of a spinning top.  Okay, that’s kinda sappy but you understand my point. (I can hear you saying, “Deb said I should be the string, be the string….)

Image result for wooden top with string

You send your child out into the world and hope she doesn’t spin out of control and hit the wall too many times. You are there to pick her up or when her just needs some “fluffing up” as we call it at our house. (Yes, I actually fluff our daughters’ shoulders as if they were a flattened pillow.)

You want a life of supporting your child, and only “fluffing” them.  You don’t want  a life of constant regret or worry everytime something doesn’t work out for them.

Put away the helicopters and enjoy your kids.  It’s tough to do some days but in the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.

Have you ever had a moment of helicoptering?  I have.  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

P.S.  Recently, I received an email from one of the queens of  helicopter parents who wanted to set the record straight about her son and an incident which occurred THREE YEARS AGO!! Get this:  she was writing me about something she was told third hand.  Third hand, people.  Oy!  The stories I could tell you…..

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Check out my post on the Ugly Santa, a family memory:  The Ugly Santa 

or a poem of mine about parenthood A Favorite Poem of Mine

Stage Properties A Lesson in Wonderous Creativity

Stage Properties are a Lesson in Wonderous Creativity

Stage properties are a lesson in wonderous creativity!

I created a new product this week, a lesson about stage properties. 

It is suitable for upper elementary and middle grade students. 

Stage Properties

You can find it at: Stage Properties Using Cooperative Learning

Those of us in drama education have a tendency to gloss over stage properties when we teach about them. I inform students if they like to make crafts, enjoy theatre and art they are going to love stage properties.

This one-day lesson about stage properties (with fairy tales as the focus) is suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. It is engaging, fun and unique.

Students learn about stage properties, view video examples, take notes, team up with a classmate and use their imaginations!

Product includes:
Teacher’s Questions
Stage properties categories and the reasons they aren’t labeled as such
Short quiz
Cooperative learning assignment

Image result for backstage at the theatre stage properties
When I was studying theatre in college, the first back stage crew I signed up for was stage properties. 

Boy, I had a lot of learning to do!

The show was “Look Homeward Angel” which is a period piece set in the early 1900’s.  My job was to serve as an assistant of sorts to the cast.  I would hand them props or take them from them if they were in a hurry.  I prepared the set each night before the production, put the props away after the performance and kept them in good repair.

I hadn’t really given props much thought although I had been in charge of them in high school as well for “The Miracle Worker”.  That was high school, you know?  I lived in a small town in Kansas and we didn’t have the money or energy to do more than the basics.

But college was a whole different experience.

I always advise my students that if they want to go into theatre as a profession, stick to technical theatre because you’ll be hired more often than an actor.  Good properties people are hard to find.

They are resourceful, creative and inventive.  The American Theatre Wing has some super videos to inform us about thetre careers. Check this out: American Theatre Wing’s Stage Properties

Cool, huh?

Here is a post I blogged specifically about the importance of props in your production

Critical Steps in Choosing a Play or Musical: Stage Prop

When I graduated from college, I spent a summer as a stage properties mistress at the Okoboji Summer Theatre.  It was an incredibly difficult experience–ten shows in nine weeks. I can handle a lot, but this job nearly broke me.

In case you didn’t understand that, I said 10 SHOWS (different) in 9 WEEKS!!!


Image result for backstage at the theatre stage properties

Most productions have many props they need. 

Musicals and comedies have the largest number.

Usually comedies need strange things:

  • a Mickey Mouse hat to hold crackers on a “cheese ball”
  • two live afghan dogs, hopefully identical
  • a grand piano which is playable
  • matching living room furniture in beige
  • a large embroidered sampler held on a standing frame
  • a painting with a church steeple which looked rather phallic
  • a live cat
  • liver and onions (which the cast can eat on stage–we used dark rye bread for that one)
  • fruit pies impersonating the meat pies for “Sweeney Todd”
  • 8 breakable white water pitcher which could hold water for five minutes and then break on cue
  • bird puppets
  • steamer trunks
  • child’s rocking chair
  • 1940 roller skates

Plus, all the things which are made from scratch such as swords, daggers, child’s coffin,  and a grave marker to name a few.

See?  These are pretty fun and students studying theatre need to know about the subject.

So look into my Stage Properties product, will you?  I think it will help you and your students.

Stage Properties Using Cooperative Learning

Stage Properties

What are some stage properties you have created?

I’d love to learn about them.

Looking for other drama education products?  Check out my store at: Teacher Pay Teachers Dramamommaspeaks Store

There you’ll find units on storytelling, tableau, radio theatre, costume design, Shakespeare and new products each week!

Reviews of other Dramamommaspeaks products:

“This is a great very well written resource and very good for text comprehension! Thank you!”

“This is such a wonderful and creatively made resource!”

“Love this activity! What a great way for students to work together!”

Study Guides

Study Guides are Here to Stay: Use Them

Study Guides are Here to Stay so Use Them

Here is my new product at Teacherspayteachers.com


I decided I need a study guide for my middle grade book, Bumbling Bea.  If I want teachers to use the book in their classroom a study guide would be useful.

In this product, I’ve included the first chapter of Bumbling Bea and questions. Here is the link:


Students will retain more of the story if they can discuss it with their classmates and their own reflection.

Here’s why study guides are useful:

From the Language Arts Journal of Michigan,

” Study guides, which enable students to draw upon their existing
knowledge to assist them in formulating meaning from the text, are constructive, dynamic (affective and cognitive), and interactive tools. Study guides are designed to increase student involvement, highlight key information, and provide students with a preview of expectations (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Blake &
Young, 1995; Ciborowski, 1995; Davey, 1986; Peters & Wixson, 1984). Study guides, as the name implies, help students maneuver their way through text, and, in the meantime, allow students an easier time comprehending content and performing activities that are related to the information being taught. Used correctly, study guides can be coupled with the text to provide a framework of support for conceptual understanding greatly needed by the students (Vacca & Vacca, 2003).”

Study guides are here to stay, use them.

I love pedagagy, I really do.

I have included interlocking and non-interlocking questions in the study guide.  Both are useful to a teacher and of course the reader.

boys reading

The plan is to compose a study guide for the entire book which will be available for teachers and readers by October 2018.

What’s next for Beatrice?

I hadn’t planned to write other stories about Beatrice. She got the answers she needed and resolved her issues with her parents although it isn’t stated in the book. I like for my readers to have an opportunity to think.

Beatrice’s aha moment occurred when she met Michiko.

I may try my hand at writing more of her story. I haven’t made any decisions yet.

I do have a short story planned for Peter one of her best friends, but as of this writing other writing pursuits have been on my mind.

Which do you think would be most interesting?  My readers get to have an opinion. In fact, readers’ opinions are vital to an author.

Another story I have rolling around in my mind from time to time is one about four friends who grow up together.  I’m considering a Christian romance series for this story idea, because I think it lends itself to one.  That’s todays idea….

I have friends waiting with bated breath for another book from me.  I can see it in their eyes when I begin to talk about my writing and that’s flattering. However, I bet most authors would share with you that writing is arduous and somewhat illusive.

I require uninterrupted thought process which for most folks is difficult to attain.  Also, it takes discipline and courage.

Woman, Thinking, Sitting, Desk, Writing, Write, Table

Although since our move, my writing space is on the main floor of our house just down the hall from the kitchen and our bedroom, it is very easy to slide by it ignoring its beckoning me.

Isn’t there something else I could do instead?

Self doubt creeps in  easily.  It took me twenty-five years to get up the courage to write Bumbling Bea and although I haven’t embarassed myself too much through writing and publishing it, I still have anxiety-ridden moments of worry over writing another book.

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TeacherpayTeacher Products

Presently, I am creating teaching products for Teacherspayteachers.com because they are fairly simple to do (haha) and have a quick turn around for me.  I laugh, because they are challenging in their own right and completely different from writing a book! Usually, I can complete them in under a week and I know where I am going with them.

I have twelve products created so far with many more to come.  (I need to put up fifty. Oh gosh…) Here are links to some of them:

Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

What are Super Hero Postcard Stories

The Drama Exercise to Jazz Up Your Class and Impress Your Parents

When I’m not making products, I can be found here blogging about them or other subjects I focus on.

Perhaps you are needing some teaching advice:

Tips for Teaching Elementary

Tips for Teaching Middle School

Tips for Teaching High School

Teachers: How to Jump Start Your School Year

Yup, study guides are here to stay, use them.  They will help you and your students in many ways. 

I’m here to help you, teachers.  I’m also here to listen to my readers.  Please feel free to email me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Who on earth created the first Fringe Festival?

Who On Earth Created the First Fringe Festival?

Who on earth created the first fringe festival?

It’s an interesting question.

Last year my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.  One of our last stops was Edinburg, Scotland.

Here is a photo of the Edinburg castle.


Image result for edinburgh castle

(While we toured the castle, I had an encounter with a ghost in one of the jails cells, but that’s a post for another day….)

The popular Edinburg Fringe Festival was running, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to attend.  I would have liked that.  Had I know then what I know now about fringe festivals, I would have made it a point to attend some part of it.

So, I promised I would speak about the history of the Edinburg Fringe Festival.

The History of Edinburg Fringe Festival

“In 1947, eight theatre companies showed up at the Edinburgh International Festival, hoping to gain recognition from the mass gathering at the festival. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a Scottish journalist and playwright, described the situation, “Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before … I am afraid some of us are not going to be at home during the evenings!”.[2] Edinburgh Festival Fringe was founded in 1947.”

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According to the United States of Fringe Festivals:

  • “Focused on the performing arts: At its core, Fringe gives a spotlight to theater, dance, puppetry, music, visual arts, and spoken word. Fringes don’t have a focus on one single discipline or genre, but are a performing-arts smörgåsbord
  • Uncensored: From family friendly to bawdy and burlesque, Fringes do not curate or constrain the material or content used in participating show.
  • Easy to participate in: Ticket prices are purposely low for audiences and production fees are low for artists. We strive to make the arts available to everyone. Show selection varies from festival to festival but is generally quite open to participation by the gamut of amateurs to professionals
  • Festivals: Fringes around the world vary. They last from just a few days to a few weeks and involve lots of people at multiple venues.
  • Original: Fringes feature a wide array of original material—sometimes by design, but usually because that’s what Fringes do naturally well.
  • Rapid-fire: Typically, tech is minimal and time is a factor at our festivals. Shows are often kept brief (Fringes most frequently have shows right around 60 minutes in length) and technical requirements kept simple (minor sets, streamlined cues, nothing elaborate)

Image result for fringe festival

In the U.S., no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe”. There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; festival content, finances, and structure vary from city to city. Generally, all festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes work hard to keep production fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.”

Doesn’t that sound like fun?  People doing theatre just because they want to.  People being creative and imaginative with other people doing the same thing.

I think you’d like to attend one.  I have several former students who participate in them each year and they enjoy the freedom of creativity they feel.

Here is a life of a few places in the United States where fringe festival occur:

Related image
 Check them out.  Maybe I can catch the one in Kansas City. I’m so excited!
Have you attended a fringe festival performance?  I’d love to hear from you about your perspective?
You can contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net
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:


Or this one:


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


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?

• 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)
• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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)

• 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?



Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

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


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:



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:


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