Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods

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?)

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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.

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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!

Columbia Entertainment Company playwriting contest:   http://www.cectheatre.org/playwriting.html

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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Critical Steps in Producing a Play or Musical: Stage Makeup

Let’s talk about steps in producing a play or musical:  stage makeup

Staging, Theatre, Emotion, Drugs, Misery, Black, Stage

 

When I was in seventh grade, I wanted to wear makeup. Of course, that was about 100 years ago, so let’s keep it in perspective….. My mother wasn’t ready for that step in my life quite yet, but I was.  Boy, was I ready. I read in a Seventeen magazine that I could make my own “home made” mascara using charcoal and petroleum jelly.  I went to work!

Now I’m not known to be very patient (although I am better now that I have grown older), so I looked around our house for the two ingredients I needed.  Hmmm.  I found a jar of petroleum jelly  in my bathroom cabinet, but charcoal?

The only charcoal I knew of was charcoal briquettes.  Being my impatient self and not taking into account that perhaps a charcoal briquette was the wrong kind of charcoal for my DIY mascara, I mixed it into the jelly anyway.  Yes. I. Used. A. Charcoal. Briquette.

No kidding.

Needless to say, it was a flop. Upon entering our dining room for dinner that evening while modeling my  “homemade mascara”, my mother let out an “Oh my!” Soon after  she drove to a Merle Norman store and enrolled me in a class about makeup.

I have refrained from making any other makeup products since that day.  I will admit that whenever we grill burgers over charcoal briquettes,  I grow a bit misty eyed remembering my DIY makeup days..

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The Infamous Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz film

The Thrill of Wearing a Costume

Like a costume, stage makeup ranks up there as one of the most popular aspects of theatre.  For some people, donning a costume and applying makeup IS theatre.

A costume and makeup psychologically comforts the actor and helps him to feel “safe.” A good director, especially in amateur theatre, must be careful not to lean on a character’s costume and makeup as the only characterization of an actor.  In that case, let’s just put the costume designer on stage and let her perform the show (I doubt she would appreciate that…) because the character solely originates with her and not the actor.  Tsk,tsk…

Stage makeup is different than street makeup (makeup worn for everyday use).  It is durable, saturated color and easily blended. It’s sturdy–you can cry, eat and have water thrown in your face and the stuff stays on!

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Makeup Designer

Makeup Designer

Since this series of posts concerns producing a play or musical and the critical steps one must take for a successful production, I  knew I should discuss stage makeup.  Do you have a makeup designer?  If not, a good place to find one is through hairstyling salons.  Most hairstylists are trained to do makeup as well as hair.  Many hairstylists LOVE this kind of work, because it is so creative.

If I need special makeup (say, for Ursula in Lil Mermaid), I give them photos of my ideas first.  Like set and costumes, a designer needs somewhere to begin in their designing.  In your budget, you need an amount for stage makeup.

I include wigs and hair needs in that budget, too–hairspray, bobby pins, hair nets, etc. If a designer must build a mustache or beard, that is an additional cost.  If you have someone who is familiar with stage makeup, so keep them around.  They are invaluable.

If you don’t have budget money for a designer, perhaps you could acknowledge them through your program and give them complimentary tickets to the production?

Specific Makeup Products

Every cast member should own their own makeup, however some things can be shared if you are on a tight budget.  If the makeup is selected ala carte, then I suggest you purchase:

  • foundation–several shades (I like crème foundation, but some people prefer pan.)

  • hi-light and shadow for contouring

  • translucent powder to match the foundation

  • eye brow pencil

  • blush–several shades

  • eye shadow–several shades

  • makeup sponges

  • spray sealer

  • makeup remover

  • eyeliner (should not be shared with others)

  • mascara (should not be shared with others)

  • lipstick (should not be shared with others)

You are going to pay more ala carte, than if you buy a kit or collection. Your actors may find that they like owning their own makeup.  I have my own makeup when I perform.

There are several companies and different size kits as well.  Like a “one size fits all” tee shirt (I have never understood that phrase), you can buy kits such as fair/lightest, to brown/Dark.  Ultimately, I suggest you find one close your skin color and work from there with the color provided in the kit.

Ben Nye Makeup is very good as is Mehron.  I’m partial to Ben Nye myself. The kits can run as little as $20.00 and upward to $150 for a comprehensive collection.  You’ll find what you need quite easily on line.

I played Nellie Forbush in South Pacific when I was in my twenties. This was NOT a character I ever thought I’d play.  In my mind, she was “101 pounds of fun” as the song says.  I wasn’t that poundage by a long shot.  The part called for a  bright, cute, sincere and naive young woman.   I worried that no one would believe my performance.

My favorite part of the whole experience (other than my husband, then fiancé who was the conductor) was the shower scene.

  I actually washed my hair and yes, danced with shampoo in my hair. Then I’d rinse it under ice cold water (!) while speaking with another character, wrapped it up in a towel and exited.  In the next five minutes, I dried my hair, reapplied my makeup and donned an elegant full length evening gown, drop earrings and elbow length gloves.  It was a blast to do!

Something about those two scenes helped me past the worry.  Every night as I stepped on the stage,  I knew I was surrounded by a wonderful armor which carried me past my fears and supported my character in a way I could never have done all by myself.

That’s what makeup and a costume can do for you.

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No, this is not me in my South Pacific costume…it is Talulah Bankhead which, for some odd reason, my mother nicknamed me.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or Bumblingbea.com

I’d love to hear from you.

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Maya Angelou's Thoughts

Maya Angelou’s Thoughts on Creativity

I have to agree with Ms.  Angelou. You can’t use up your creativity.

It seems the more I imagine, the more I scoop from the creativity pool. It is never ending.

Are you a person who has to make yourself sit down to create?  Sometimes I am the way.  In fact, I can easily distract myself.  Of course, I can always blame it on the ease of using the internet and “researching” for my next book. Usually, I end up on social media sites reading about kittens being saved from flood waters or something like that….

Honestly, I think my procrastination has to do with fear or failure.

I can’t really measure the value of something I’ve created.  I’m too close to it, or from my standpoint my work isn’t as good as someone else’s.

Nothing will stifle your creativity faster than comparing yourself to someone else.

I’ve been reading “The Big Magic” and let me tell you, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is helping me in ways I didn’t expect.  It is very comforting to read a popular author admitting they don’t think they have much talent and are in a quandary why someone would want to read her books.

These are things I know about myself if I want to create:

  1. I have to have brain space.  If there are too many variables in my day (being grandma to our darling granddaughter, teaching and lesson plans, creating Teacherpayteachers products, daily goings on like the laundry needs to be done or we need to run errands,) I simply can’t create.
  2. I have to be rested.  If I’m tired or stressed, forget it. I simply can’t imagine.
  3. I need classical music or sound tracks playing in the background.
  4. My ideas arrive most fluidly between 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  5. I do my best creating on a rainy day.
  6. I have to have some plan before I begin whether it’s a synopsis or an outline.
  7. I like my life to be balanced.  If I spend too much time creating lesson plan products or grading papers, then I need to do something such as cook a new recipe, or color in a coloring book or maybe write.

I used to think I was an “emotional perfectionist”.  That’s a person who needs to feel emotionally balanced in order to function well in life.  In some respects, I am one.  It is difficult for me to create anything of quality if I am stressed or worried.  (I can write really good poetry then, though. Ha!)

I think I will always have problems with self confidence and I have to be on guard to the little voices in my brain which like to distract me.  Those little boogers never seem to go away.

What do you do when you want to create?  Do you have certain steps you take to nurture your creativity?  I’d love to hear from you.

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

If you’d like to read more about my journey as an author, read here:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2014/08/07/a-writers-journey-a-really-really-long-one-but-worth-it/

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author interviews

My Latest Author Interviews

author interviews

I thought it might help if I compiled my latest author interviews for you. If you are wondering who the heck I am and why Bumbling Bea is a great book for your child to read, this should help!

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/05/05/three-times-a-charm-an-author-interview/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/01/20/authorblogspot-another-author-interview-of-me/

There are some really nice book reviewers out there in the indie author world.  I happened to find two of them, or maybe they found me.

As an indie author, it is an overwhelming task to market your book.  I thought writing the book would be difficult. Trust me, that’s the easy party (“easy part?” you may ask…). Marketing the book is a hundred times more difficult.

Ever so often, however, you meet someone who genuinely wants to interview you about your book. Each time it occurs, I thank the powers that be because I know the interviewer could select anyone and they chose me.

And podcast have come along, too!  What a great medium for the author and reader.

Click here for a podcast: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/04/06/10788/ 

I couldn’t believe Jed gave me thirty minutes to speak about Bumbling Bea.

Part of the reason I enjoy the interviews is most folks ask me questions which pertain to something about the book which spoke to them.  In Jed’s case, he had sponsored Asian students in his home.  That certainly brings a different perspective to the interview, because he can relate to the Beatrice’s Bumbling Bea bookstory just as I do.

Here is a clever one using my main character for the interview instead of me.

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/10/05/exclusive-interview-of-my-main-character/

Isn’t that unusual?  I appreciate this one very much, because it allowed me to think about some additional back story on Beatrice and Michiko.

One of my fondest memories of book talks is when readers ask me questions about the story which I hadn’t thought about myself.  Questions such as:

What happens to Beatrice’s parents?  Do they stay together?

What about Michiko?  What happens to her?

Does Beatrice and Michiko continue to be friends?

Do Jerri and Peter remain friends with Beatrice once they are in high school?

Does Beatrice study theatre in college?  Check out this post for that answer: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/10/25/ten-years-later-a-chat-with-beatrice/

I know I am very fortunate in this indie author journey.  I’ve made many friends through writing and I treasure their help, knowledge and support.  Someday, I hope I can repay the favor.

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

I’d love to hear from you!

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Happy Mothers Day, the Sad and Happy Parts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mothers Day, the Sad and Happy Parts

May is Mother’s day month!

I wish I remembered this day.

I wish we could remember our lives from birth. It might help us understand some aspects  of ourselves we have overlooked.

My mother became ill and diagnosed with heart disease when I was ten years old. Although she lived a very long life, my brother shared she was never quite the same after her illness.

Here are a few things Mom taught me:

To delegate

To make caramels

To sew

To travel

To attend concerts and plays

To swim

To make a pie crust

To help people less fortunate

To love reading

To hostess a party

To love the out of doors

To appreciate the Arts

To welcome newcomers

To have manners

I have her green thumb and color sense. I can grow just about any plant with very little effort. I have a knack with color with practically a photographic memory of colors.

To some extent, I inherited my singing voice from Mom. When she was around eleven years old, she was asked to sing Japan’s national anthem for the Emperor of Japan for some public gathering. I guess she forgot the words.

She never forgot that or forgave herself.  What a pity.  At the time, no one knew that was too much pressure to place on a young person. Whenever I see a child singing the Star Spangled Banner at a sporting event, I think of Mom.

Mom wasn’t always the nicest person. She could be mean and spiteful. Then, no one knew about the benefits of anti-depressants or seeking counseling. Both were taboo.

If they had, I think a lot of Mom’s emotional and self esteem issues could have been helped. She had a tendency to pit her kids against one another which only pushed us to be more competitive with one another.

To this day, my brother and my sister and I are splintered with many deep seeded hurts. We can’t seem to get past them. Maybe she didn’t mean to do this to us, but it’s a common complain’t among us.

The good thing is I have broken that pattern with my own daughters and step son and they are all the best of friends with each other.

I hoped I’d  have a chance to speak to Mom about myself and what I’ve learned about life. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to do so.

I’m a very driven person who needs a constant creative challenge set before me. Mom didn’t understand that about me. In fact, I think it intimidated her. I know she compared her stay-at-home life with my sister and I and our working mother lives.  She appeared regretful about her decisions, but aren’t we all at times?

I’m sorry to say she could never teach me to knit. Lord, I’m terrible at it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Or sculpt! She was quite good. I inherited her hand sculpture which has no wire armature within it. It is perfectly balanced. We have moved twice in the last eight years and one of the first things I think of is Mom’s hand and whether it made through another move. It sits in my office and I love it.

 

 

 

 

I love fine china and art. I don’t especially like drinking hot tea, but I love to collect tea pots. That’s Mom’s influence. She prided herself on her English ancestry, drinking strong tea.

I don’t have enough walls for all of the art work I  inherited from her nor for my own collection. That’s her influence. “One can never have too much art,” and “Think of art as furniture” she’d say.

While on one our trips, one really funny thing Mom would do is collect rocks for her garden. I sat in the middle of the front seat of our red truck when we traveled.

Whenever we stopped for a break, Mom would go rock hunting. She’d put a newly discovered rock in the truck gleeful at her discovery. Whenever she wasn’t looking, Dad would have me sneak another “precious” one to him and he’d drop it out!

It was this crazy rock tennis match I still laugh about from time to time.

She never bought decent snacks for us, either. As a young girl, I would arrive home and hungrily search the kitchen for anything to eat. Usually, there was some old gross shrunken up apple in the fridge or maybe a piece of moldy cheese.

One time, I found the baking chocolate and took a hunk  thinking it was the sweetened kind. One bite and well, I’ve never recovered.

My mother was quite a character. She could be very kind and generous and on a good day, silly and funny.

I try to remember those times on Mothers Day. It only seems fair, respectful and appropriate. It’s the least I can do. You know?

Happy Mothers Day Mommas

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

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Lessons Learned as a Drama Teacher

The Lessons I Learned from Working as a Drama Teacher

In a past post, I spoke on my advice concerning teaching a drama class.  But I haven’t reflected on the lessons I learned about myself personally through working as a drama teacher.

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After thirty-eight years of teaching drama to students of all ages, including adults, here are the lessons I have learned:

1. It is better to take the time to become well acquainted with my students than to hurry into a lesson.  People love to talk about themselves, so I give them a chance to do so.

2. I am punctual.  I like to be a bit early to engagements rather than late.  In the theatre, I was taught, “If you are early, you are on time.  If you are on time, you are late.  And if you are late, you are in trouble.”  Works  for me.

3. I’m organized.  I like to have all the materials I may or may not need at quick access.

4. I over plan my lessons, so that there is more than enough material to cover in case my students zip through an activity or exercise. This helps me keep my anxiety at bay.

5. I still wear a watch to keep track of the time.

6. I carry a water bottle and a beloved large cup of coffee.  I replenish the water bottle many times during a day.  Water and coffee help me to center myself if I find I’m unfocused.  Also, I carry snacks.

7. I dress nicely, but casually.  My mother always wondered my reasons for not wearing a dress to teach.  It’s  simple–I like to sit on the floor with my students, no matter the age.  I find it gives the classroom a kind of closeness that chairs can’t provide.

8. I invest in a good pair of expensive Danskos clogs from time to time.  They are sturdy, last a long time and have enough heel to make me appear taller. 🙂

9. I use my intuition and observation skills during class.  I’m aware of a class’ energy, dynamics and body language.  If a group of lethargic kids enter the classroom, I take the time to re-energize them through a game or merely telling a funny story.  Or, if they arrive too wound up, I will take the time to calm them down.

10. At the same time I am organized, I do enjoy moments of improvisation–those times where the class takes  off in a different direction than where I thought it would go.  It is quite easy to become perfunctory in one’s teaching, especially if one teaches the same subject many times in a day.  Off balance moments keep me alive in the classroom, so to speak.

directing-oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Over my many years of teaching, I found students and parents to be much the same. It is the time in which we live and societal norms that make for the changes in their attitude towards their education and its importance in their lives and future.  When I first began my career, parents were very uninvolved in their children’s education. That was in 1979.  Then I became a parent in 1983.  I stayed home full time with our daughters for twelve years. 

12. When I returned to the classroom a parent’s behavior toward a teacher was quite different.  The parents only believed their children and NOT the teacher, an adult peer to the parents.  Times change, however. Recently, I heard someone complaining about the damages of over gifting of trophies to the losing team. He mentioned that over praising children makes for lack of self esteem instead of the opposite. Aha!

13. Theatre is created through an emotional person displaying other emotions. This is not an easy task, especially for kids. Early on, I learned to model the emotion for them which gave them a starting point. Sometimes, the student just needs you to go first.

14. I have believed in and lived my life by the quote, “People of integrity expect to be believed.  If they are not, time will prove them right.”  There are moments in my career when I know I did or said the right  thing even if no one else agreed with me.  I hold myself to a high standard and expect students to do so, too.  Sometimes parents or my administrators seem threatened by this. I hold my ground and it pays off in the end.  I may never receive an apology from the accuser, but at least I can live with myself for doing what was right at the time.

15. I rarely raise my voice with a class anymore.  I find that our students do not respond well to this.  I use a call and echo response technique instead.

16. I like to be on top of my game when I teach.  Teaching a group of different personalities each day is stressful enough.  need to be rested.  I don’t grade papers on a weekend or spend my vacation thinking about the next semester.  There is plenty of time for that later.  If I am given professional time off, I use it for myself.

17. There are some school related details I just don’t remember–deadlines for grades to be in, fire drill               dates,  turning in a class materials list, etc.  Usually, I find another teacher who can keep all of this straight for me. They don’t know I turn to them for this information, but I do.

 18. When I am feeling bored, I usually entertain myself with a store bought lunch or new piece of music or new acting exercise to teach.

19. I use humor A LOT. I lifts my mood.😊

20. I enjoy team teaching.  Recently, I retired from formal public school teaching (I’ll probably teach in the private sector in the years to come.)  I team taught with three different vocal music teachers in musical theatre classes for six years.  Although it takes a while for me to adjust to another person’s style of teaching, I find having another teacher in the classroom completely changes the dynamics and refreshes me more than it frustrates me.

21. I try not to knee jerk at a student’s behavior.  Sometimes I achieve success at this and other times not so much. I still have to remind myself that kids make random behavior choices. Most of the time they are unaware of the consequences of their behavior.  I am very protective of my students, their  learning time as well as mine to teach.  Even after all these years, I remind myself that not all behavior is a direct attack at me.

22. I like to teach!  I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy directing as well.  It is a kind of teaching.  There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the “aha” moment in a student’s eyes when they understand and appreciate what I am instructing.

23. I am a better person having been a teacher.  It has brought out the best in me and shown me my weaknesses as well.  I impress myself by how much I know about theatre and can quickly become overwhelmed by how much I don’t.  I think that’s a good sign, though.

After all these years, I can still say I have room for improvement. Not everyone can say that about their chosen occupation.  Can you?

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I’d love to hear from you about what you have learned from your teaching experiences. Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to read about more of my teaching experiences, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/08/how-to-make-your-elementary-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-drama-part-one/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/09/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-part-two/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

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