Book Reviews, Bumbling Bea, drama education, middle grades, Uncategorized

Award winner: Bumbling Bea What’s a girl to do? Plenty.

To purchase a copy of Bumbling Bea, go to Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

Find my award winning book at Amazon.com

both ebook and paperback

acting, community theatre, directing experiences, youth theatre

Ten Audition Secrets From a Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m readying for the upcoming auditions for my next directing project, Beauty and the Beast with a wonderful company Theatre Lawrence. Previously, I blogged a list of secrets to a good audition. So, I brought this one out of the moth balls for you!

You knew this subject was coming, didn’t you? It only seems natural to speak about how I make decisions about casting someone in a play.

Remember, these are only my opinions. Someone else will have a different viewpoint, obviously.
Here is my advice (and secrets) to landing the part:

1. Arrive on time for the auditions and stay until they are finished. If you arrive late or are in a rush to leave early, it implies that the production is not that important to you.

2. Dress appropriately for the audition. If you are auditioning for a musical and there are going to be dance auditions, either bring the right shoe wear or wear them. There is nothing more distracting to a director than observing someone flop around in the wrong shoes as they attempt to dance or move about the stage. And ladies, you hair needs to be swept back away from your face and controlled with a bobby pin or something.

3. Read the script prior to auditions. Now reading the script ahead of time does not guarantee you a part in the production, but most scripts are very well written (that’s why they are produced) and worth your time to read. Or at least watch a movie version of the play or musical if there is one available. My guess is some people don’t read the entire script before auditioning because they don’t want to commit their free time because if they aren’t cast, it feels like they have wasted their time. One hasn’t wasted their time. They have enriched it.

I try to be patient with people who haven’t read the script ahead of time, but secretly nothing is more frustrating than having someone say to me, “So, what’s this play about?” I don’t have the time to explain the story to them nor do I think it is my job to do so.

4. Pay attention during the auditions. If the auditions aren’t closed and you are able to observe them, watch other actors. You never know when a director might call you up to read with someone and if you pay attention you are ready to go.

Ten secrets to a great audition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. A director doesn’t need to know if you have a cold or don’t feel well, or whatever the excuse might be at the moment. So, don’t announce your maladies–just audition confidently. A director will ask the actor to call backs if he thinks he needs to hear the actor once the cold or illness is over.

6. If you mark on your audition sheet that you will accept any role you are offered, please tell the truth. Nothing is more frustrating than taking the time to cast someone and afterward they announce they won’t accept the role you gave them (since the person wanted another one instead.) Tacky! And, if the accused auditions for another one of the director’s plays, chances are the actor won’t even be considered them based on their past actions.

7. If you mark on your audition sheet that you have no conflicts, then a director expects you to have no conflicts! Avoiding informing the director of a few conflicts and spinning that you have none then coming back later with a litany of conflicts does nothing for the actor’s relationship with the director. Better to tell the truth and let the director work around the conflicts if he thinks he can do so. An actor’s behavior gets around in a theater community very quickly, so just be honest and up front.

8. Sometimes a director will put out the word that they are looking for a particular age actor for a role. It is not wise to try and make yourself up to look half your age if you aren’t really able to convince your best friend of your age change. If your friend thinks you look silly trying to be twenty-five when you are fifty-five, then believe them. Audition for a play that suits your age range.

If you are an adult, you can usually appear ten years either direction of your age. Children and teen agers are a bit different in this regard. Personally, I am more likely to cast someone who is taller and thirteen to play a sixteen year old than a short thirteen year old to play a ten year old.

9. No matter what, always finish your audition with a thank you and get the heck off the stage. An actor trying to make conversation with the director can come across as a desperate attempt for attention. If the director initiates the conversation, then I think it is safe to chat a moment with him or her. But I wouldn’t begin the conversation. Directors are usually considering many things during auditions, so it’s best not to interrupt them.

10. Be confident in your audition. If you audition with others and someone does something that is comical (and the director reacts by laughing), it does not mean you must do the same thing if you read the same part. Be yourself. Be clever and memorable, but don’t behave in such a manner that you make others feel uncomfortable by your audition. In other words, keep your clothes on, keep your mouth clean and be polite.

10. The biggest secret to auditions? Listen to what the director asks of you. I am more likely to cast someone who honestly tries to do what I ask of him (such as lowering the pitch of his voice, trying an unusual laugh or reaction), than someone who has a preconceived vision of the character and can not or will not budge from that idea. Also, I really don’t like it when an actor just imitates someone else portraying the role–either someone else at the auditions or someone they have seen portray the role in the film version, for example. Generally, if I don’t think the inflexible person can adapt themselves to my needs, then I can’t cast them. Simple as that.

I hope this helps you. I would love to answer any other questions you might have about auditions, so send them on. P.S.  If you’d like to audition for Beauty and the Beast, go here for information http://www.theatrelawrence.com/index.html

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

drama education, Reading Literacy, youth theatre

Some “Hoppy” News For Peter Rabbit

http://variety.com/2017/film/news/peter-rabbit-movie-trailer-james-corden-1202565619/

Oh my, James Corden is the voice of Peter Rabbit in a new film! 

Read on…

Everyone’s favorite rambunctious rabbit finds new life as a party animal in the first trailer for the live-action/animated comedy “Peter Rabbit.”

The film stars James Corden as the the titular mischievous bunny whose feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates as they rival for the affections of the animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). The film also stars Sam Neill and features the voices of Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley as his triplets Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

The trailer shows Peter and his furry friends raiding Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden and trashing his home in a wild party, then frantically dispersing when the farmer returns home unexpectedly. The critter exudes so much charm that even a fox who previously tried to eat him is a welcome party guest.

The movie is based on the character from Beatrix Potter’s children’s book series. Peter Rabbit first appeared in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902 and the series has since sold more than 150 million copies worldwide in 35 languages.

The film is directed by Will Gluck who also wrote the screenplay with Rob Lieber. Gluck’s previous directing work includes “Easy A,” “Friends With Benefits,” and the 2014 remake of “Annie.” Lieber has previously written the screenplay for “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

“Peter Rabbit” hits theaters on Feb. 9, 2018.
Staff Writer

Matt Fernandez

Staff Writer

@matt_fern

 

  

 

Arts, theatre, Travel, Uncategorized

Unique Method to Fight Boredom on Your Next Long Flight

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/bored-your-international-flight-icelandair-just-tried-live-theater-n800956I LOVE unique ideas. Do you? 
How about this one–live theatre performed on a long airplane flight. 

Read on. 

Even with a kooky safety video and a variety of film offerings, long flights can still be boring.

But Icelandair is trying something new: An 11-hour immersive theater production took place last week on a flight from London to New York, with an on-the-ground bonus performance during the layover in Reykjavik.

“We’ve made theater in unusual places but never made a show that started in one country, bounced to another, and ended up in a third on the same day,” said Kate Hargreaves, Founder of Gideon Reeling, the London-based theater company that helped develop the program.

The cast was a mix of professional actors along with pilots, engineers, accountants, ground workers, cabin crew, and other real airline employees who had volunteered to attend a special stage school to prepare for the event.

The characters they played ranged from film stars and flight attendants from various decades to business and leisure travelers, a perky party planner, a vulcanologist, and a farmer — as well as flight attendants from the past, present, and future.
And the performance, which reeled out in entertaining, story-filled, one-on-one encounters at check-in, at the gate and during the flight, hopscotched through time, with some actors playing multiple characters.
There were even a few sing-a-longs and several Icelandic-themed meals during the “Ahead in Time” performance.

Passengers met and had an opportunity to interact with Maria, dressed in a stylish suit from the 1950s, who said she’d be flying the plane; Richie and Cynthia, hippies from the 1960s who met on the road and were hoping to get to Woodstock; Alex, an exuberant, if disorganized, backpacker from the 1990s in search of his passport; and numerous grandchildren and other far-flung relatives of Edda Johnson, a world traveler and former Icelandair flight attendant who had invited everyone to her birthday party but (spoiler alert) was too busy traveling the world to show up.

Icelandair’s one-off immersive in-flight performance (and a series of on-the-ground events in Iceland over the next six months) was sparked by a recent UK-based study in which the majority of air travelers reported being bored during their flights. Three quarters of the study participants thought the people on the plane, especially the cabin crew, could have a greater hand in making the flight more enjoyable.

Responding to that research, “Our program aims to transform wasted time while traveling into time well-traveled,” said Icelandair CEO Birkir Hólm Guðnason, “We’re pleased to pioneer a new form of entertainment and value-added service for passengers.”

‘Hippies’ on Icelandair’s immersive theatrical performance. Harriet Baskas

 “That notion of offering passengers some sort of ‘surprise and delight’ is great,” said travel industry expert Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research, but he notes some passengers would rather use their in-flight time to work, rest, relax, and make their own choices for entertainment.

Still, Harteveldt approves of Icelandair’s effort to be creative and stand out from other airlines, especially as the competition for flights to and through Iceland from WOW air and other airlines heats up.

And while live theater in the aisles might be seen by some as a negative in the air, Harteveldt believes the airline’s Stopover Pass program, which gives passengers entry to special art, culture, and sporting events through April 2018, can be a huge positive on the ground.
“I applaud them for thinking of different ways to distinguish themselves, offering this value-added amenity so that passengers see Icelandair as passenger-centric,” he said. 
Contact me at dhcbaldwin.net or Deborahbaldwin.net

Book giveaway, Book Reviews

Free Downloads Today! 

Bumbling Bea is FREE  to download today thru Wednesday! Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell everyone. Then write a review for us, will you? Thanks. http://tinyurl.com/n5at3oh

Book Awards, Book Reviews, Readers Favorite, Uncategorized

Exciting News! It’s Bumbling Bea’s Time

I am so excited! Bumbling Bea has been nominated for best YA / middle grade book. PLEASE VOTE,will you? The most votes, wins! https://www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting

Reading Literacy, Uncategorized

Revolutionary Program for Bored Kids on Airplanes

Recently, my husband I flew across the ocean to England. There were several kids on board. One little girl had a terrible time on the trip because her mother didn’t bring many things for the girl to do. Then I ran onto this article about a pilot program being tried on Easyjet! .

Easy Jet Launches ‘Flybraries’ Book Club To Keep Kids Entertained On Flights And Encourage Reading
Huffington post U.K. 

An airline has come up with the perfect solution to keep kids entertained on flights, while also encouraging their passion to read. 

EasyJet has today  launched ‘Flybraries’ (flying libraries), which will see 7,000 books take to the skies in 147 planes. 

The launch followed a survey of 2,000 parents, which found 83% think their kids read less than they did when they were children.

Children will be offered books to read on the plane from a book trolley.
They have to leave the books on the plane when they land, but they can download free samples of other classics to read afterwards from the easyJet bookclub. 

The airline has teamed up with Jaqueline Wilson and Puffin Classics to compile a selection of books kids will enjoy.

Books onboard flights include ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’, ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ and ‘The Railway Children’.
Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who is supporting the campaign, said: “The long summer break is the ideal opportunity for children to get stuck into a great story.
“Books stimulate a child’s imagination and development. Reading soothes, entertains, grows vocabulary and exercises the mind and a flight is the perfect place to escape into a literary adventure. That’s why I think this campaign is such a clever match.”  

EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said: “Our in-flight lending library means young passengers can pick up a brilliant book during their flight and then return it to the seat pocket at the end of the flight for the next customer to enjoy onboard.

“We think it will be popular with parents and children alike.” 
To find out more, visit easyJet’s bookclub online here. http://www.easyjet.com/en/bookclub?awc=6296_1504300509_e305347aaa9fe84b6c2185488f5c9b97&utm_medium=Afiliacion&utm_source=Awin_UK&utm_campaign=home&amc=aff.easyjet.27953.32832.19310
Contact me at Dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

Uncategorized

Exciting Bumbling Bea News! 

Hey friends, I’m going to be interviewed about Bumbling Bea LIVE on Friday Sept 8 at 7:00 EDT. Plunk us in your calendar, share this info and join Beatrice and I (with maybe a short chat with Michiko 😉).This is guaranteed to be fun! 

Uncategorized

In Praise of Book Reviewers

I’d like to praise people who read books and review them. You are wonderful, did you know this? 

But first–

(This is on behalf of all authors. If you take this personally, that’s on you. 😊)

Dear well meaning friends and family,

I have news that may be a bit disparaging for you.

It is challenging for me to continue to support your endeavors, show interest in your life and interests when it is not reciprocal.  I bet you know of which I am speaking.

You know the copy of my book you begged me to give to you? Do you remember how you promised (practically on a stack of Bibles, as they say) you would post a book review for me?

Then you didn’t read my book OR write a review?

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

Everyone gets busy some times, or we forget what we have promised or whatever.

There are lot of whatevers…

Simply put, word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising bar non.

Have you ever attended a movie and shared your opinion of it with a friend? That’s worth of mouth advertising.

Writing a review is simple.

Here is an example of what a review can look like:

“I liked the story a lot.  It was funny with great characters and an unusual message.  I recommend you read this book.”

“Although I usually don’t care to read  romance novels, this one was pretty good and worth my time to read it.” (Notice this one is less positive, but still does the job.)

Ta-da!

Then post your review on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc.

YOU DON’T NEED TO EXPLAIN THE PLOT.  That’s someone else’s job.

Your job is to show support for the book and author.

Writing a book review is no different than buying your friend’s cake at the church bazaar, some popcorn from the Boy Scouts booth at the mall or magazines from your neighbor’s marching band student. It’s like attending your brother’s performance in a community theatre production or enjoying your neighbor’s booth at an arts festival in your community.

You are showing support in all of these circumstances.

Oh….you say. That’s it?

That’s it.

What if I only have negative things to say?

Surely you can speak generally about the book and give it some kind of support.

You have to understand writing a book and being an indie author ain’t an easy job.

We do everything for our books–marketing, publicity, book talks, book fairs, interviews, selects its cover, art work, write its description, etc.  EVERYTHING.

You could say writing a review is a symbolic pat on the back of the author  acknowledging their hard work.

Can I leave a review anonymously?

Yes, you can.

Can I give my friend’s book a rating lower than five stars? Will it hurt them?

No, it won’t hurt them exactly.  In fact, giving a book four stars instead of five seems a more authentic score–Amazon’s algorithms love that.

Remember, we are all in this together.

Thanks!

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.netIn Praise of Book Reviewers

 

 

 

 

 

 

drama education, Education, Teaching, Uncategorized

Strategic Ways to Accelerate Learning: Growth Mindset through the Arts

https://www.edutopia.org/practice/embracing-failure-building-growth-mindset-through-arts

I just love the arts, don’t you?  Did you know they teach growth mind set?   In case you don’t know what growth mindset is:

People believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-brains and talent are just the starting point.

Amen and amen.

Here’s an article from Edutopia.com about ways to accelerate learning and growth mindset through the arts.  It’s worth a read.

teaching apple
At New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) — a dual arts and academic curriculum — failure is taught as an important part of the journey toward success. Understanding that mistakes are indicators for areas of growth, freshmen learn to give and receive feedback. By senior year, students welcome tough, critical feedback — and even insist on it.

When Natesa, a senior at NMSA, arrived as a freshman, she had a hard time pushing herself in the areas that were difficult for her to master: choreography and getting into character.

“Now, I feel like I can channel my inner self and my inner fierceness when I need it, and even my inner beauty,” reflects Natesa. “I became more willing to take risks, and I think that taking risks is a big part of who you want to become, and who you’re choosing to be.”

Students audition to get into an NMSA program specific to their craft — dance, theater, music, or visual arts. Each day, they have their academic classes from 9AM to 2PM, and after lunch, they have their art classes until 4:45PM.

“Students have to take risks,” says Cristina Gonzalez, the former chair of NMSA’s visual arts department. “That’s something that is so unique to learning in the arts. Great art comes from risk taking, from being willing to fail. Maybe it will work. Maybe I’ll discover something about myself, something about my capacity that I wasn’t even aware of, and that’s so exciting for a student.”

If you want to help your students develop a growth mindset — the belief that they can improve their abilities through effort — helping them become more comfortable with risk-taking and modeling critical feedback through critique journals are two of NMSA’s strategies that you can adapt to your own practice.

teaching apple

Teach Your Students That It’s OK to Make Mistakes

Making mistakes, not knowing the answer — this is part of the artistic process. “You’re going to make bad paintings,” says Gonzalez. “You’re going to make bad photographs. You’re going to fumble your way through it, and in fact, that’s how you learn. You need to make those mistakes.”

The idea that you learn from your mistakes is embedded into their entire arts curriculum. Teacher, expert, and peer critiques are innate to the arts process. Immediate feedback is part of the norm. You might pause your piano student in mid-rehearsal to say, “When you get here, make sure you get a really clean pedal on the B flat, but that was great. That’s the kind of energy you want.”

In dance class, you might tell your students how they need to rotate their legs differently when taking their demi-plié in first position.

When ninth-grade theater students rehearse their Working in Silence scenes, they perform in front of their peers and faculty, receive feedback from their teachers, and then re-perform the scene to immediately incorporate their feedback.

“Getting to do the scenes a couple different times really helps because then we get to take the feedback and we get to apply it, and that is the whole learning process,” says Kara, a ninth-grade theater student. “If you fail, then you can do it again, and you could make big leaps and bounds and learn from that.”

You can connect risk taking — and helping your students build comfort around it — to their interests outside of school. Gonzalez has students in her class who enjoy skateboarding. She draws connections to risk taking by referencing their experience with trying a new trick. “

A skateboarder knows what it feels like to try a new trick, how scary it is that they actually might fall,” she says. “They could get hurt, and all their buddies are watching. We ask them to do that every day in the art studio.”

With any art form, students can fall into a pattern of doing what they’re comfortable with or what they’re good at doing without risking something new because they don’t want to make a mistake. “It’s our job as teachers to go, ‘Do that new new trick. Go to the precipice,'” explains Gonzalez.

By encouraging your students, you’re helping them to explore their craft and expand their ability — whether they execute a new technique right out of the gate or over time with feedback and practice. Either way, they see that taking risks pays off.

teaching apple
“Failure isn’t the end of the road,” explains Cindy Montoya, NMSA’s principal. “You learn from failure. It gives you more information on how to do something better. It’s fodder for success. It’s a cycle of either learning about yourself, the content, or your art form.”

Teach Your Students to Appreciate Feedback

Once your students go through the process of applying constructive feedback to improve their work — and once they create something beautiful as a result — they’ll see its value. They’ll learn to appreciate and even want feedback. “Being able to accept critique and not feel hurt by it is an important skill for us to learn,” says Serena, a 10th-grade student. “We’re taking those critiques and learning how to put them to use.”

Creating something, receiving feedback, and revising their work is a natural part of the artistic process that your students can apply toward their academic classes. “The strengths and skills that these artists come to us with are hard work and a willingness to keep trying,” says Geron Spray, an English and history teacher. “They have perseverance, they take constructive criticism well, and they build on it.”

It’s not uncommon to hear students say, “I’m not good at math,” or “I’m bad at writing essays.” An arts education helps students to see that they can improve at their craft with effort. They can become better at math.

They can become better at writing essays. “They start to see that connection between struggling through the practice, getting feedback, going in for help, and the outcome,” says Eric Crites, NMSA’s assistant principal.

“It’s just so great to watch a student go through that process of struggle, have a teacher believe in them, and then at the end, they have a result that they can be proud of,” adds Gonzalez.

Give your students journals to write down the feedback they receive from you. It’s a way for them to store immediate feedback from each day to review and apply later, and it also allows you to model giving constructive criticism. When providing feedback to your students, share both their successes and areas for improvement, and be specific.

“Feedback is fundamental to growing oneself as an artist,” says Adam McKinney, the chair of NMSA’s dance department. “I try to model what it means to provide critical feedback to my dancers.” One way that the dance department models critical feedback is through dance journals.

teaching apple
Throughout class, students write their teacher’s feedback in their dance journal. For example, says McKinney, a student might write, “‘When I’m taking my demi-plié in first position, rotate from the top of my legs so that my knees are going over my first and second toes.’

For me, that next level of cognition — to understand the feedback, realize the importance of the feedback, and then to incorporate that into their bodies — is essential as young artists.”

By giving constructive criticism to their peers, your students will learn to better appreciate receiving feedback and they’ll improve their skills to self-assess their own work. “Having young artists provide critical feedback to each other provides a deeper understanding and another layer of what it means to get better as an artist,” says McKinney. “That critical feedback is essential to improving one’s art.”

NMSA develops students’ abilities to assess their own and others’ work through showing them examples of mastery, equipping them with technical vocabulary, and providing them with opportunities to practice peer critique through fishbowl discussions, Visual Thinking Strategies, and Post-it note critiques (See Mastering Self-Assessment: Independent Learning Through the Arts).

“Our students have learned that they can receive feedback — even negative feedback,” says Crites, “make a correction, and then come up with something amazing.”

teaching apple
“We develop this idea of self-reflection very early in the department,” adds McKinney. “Why are you a dancer? Why is that important to the world? I know that the power of art saves lives. I have several young people in the department — and who have graduated — who communicate that art has saved their lives, and it certainly saved my own.”

The arts saved my life, theatre specifically.  For a post describing how it did so, go to:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/01/17/how-theatre-saved-m%ef%bb%bfy-life/comment-page-1/

drama education, excellence in teaching, Readingrocket.org, Uncategorized

The Majority of Drama Teachers do this and You Should Too!

studenst-reading-play

Music Rehearsal for Willy Wonka, Jr. Apex Home School Enrichment Program  2014

Note:  Recently, I wrote several pieces concerning reading and literacy for Litpick.com.  This is a re-publish of the latest article. 

I’m not a Wizard, but I can do Magic and so Can You!

Teaching has its up and downs, but one of the most rewarding experiences of teaching is seeing a student’s eyes light up once some learning connects with them. I like to teach “magically” if I can. I bet a lot of teachers do, too!

I don’t wear a wizard’s robe and pull out a magic wand —I have no idea how that is done. I mean when a student learns something when they don’t think they are doing anything, but having fun. Teaching and learning become effortless and almost enchanting!

I use many drama games and exercises in my classroom. I’m especially fond of Viola Spolin’s book Improvisation in the Classroom. But that’s not today’s subject…. (my right brained-ness kicked in there for a moment). Sorry.

I find that when I am teaching a concept that a student is focused upon and I am using a particular activity to demonstrate the concept, the learning becomes “like butter”—smooth, enriching and tasty. (Okay, I do have a fondness for butter I will admit, but you get the point.)

Drama Class and Reading

Reading skills can be strengthened through drama. No joke! Sometimes students don’t realize when they enroll in my classes that we will read aloud in class—that’s a given. And we read A LOT. Of course we read the occasional theatre textbook chapter, but mostly we read plays. I mean, obviously we read plays, right? Also, we perform the readings, so the words become memorized easily.

Families can do this at home, too! The benefits of reading plays aloud are varied, but suffice to say that if a group gets together and reads a play, a child’s reading skills will be honed.

Dialogue

Oh my gosh, play dialogue is so fun to read aloud! It’s far better to read a play aloud than to read it silently. That’s because it was created to be spoken. A playwright depends upon his characters’ dialogue to tell a story. That’s the whole point. Playwrights work for months, maybe years, to find and create just the right meaning in a sentence.

Presently, I am preparing to direct a summer youth theatre camp production of Tams Witmark’s Music Library version of The Wizard of Oz musical. Here is a tidbit of dialogue from the production:

img_0385

WICKED WITCH:

They’re gone! The ruby slippers! What have you done with them?

Give them back to me, or I’ll—

GLINDA:

It’s too late! There they are, and there they’ll stay!

Awesome, don’t you think? The dialogue is precise, rhythmical and exciting. A playwright’s goal is to express a particular message, right? She wants the audience to continue listening to her play. Her dialogue must be excellent. There can be no excess words, very few challenging words or word pronunciations that an audience member must struggle to understand.   Since theatre is live, it is essential that the play is engaging right from the first word. When one is not enjoying a book that she is reading, she can put the book down. But at a play? The confused person might just walk out of the performance. Eeek!

Form

Young readers love to read scripts aloud once they understand the form. It’s a little daunting, you must admit. There are no markers—no “he said” or “she yelled” In particular moments, emotions are written in for the actor to use. Generally, a playwright leaves it up to the director and actors to convey the required emotion. That’s more interesting for everyone involved. It allows the director to create her own concept of the play—sort of like painting a picture using her own thoughts about the story. That’s more interesting for everyone involved.

IMG_0290

Usually, I read aloud the stage directions so that the students can create the atmosphere or plot in their minds. The plot of a play must be very clear to understand although surprises are always welcome. That’s what makes for excellent theatre, I think.

Once when my class of middle school students read aloud the “Tom Sawyer” play, I purposely stopped us at an exciting moment—scary Injun Joe hid behind a tree and overheard Tom and Huck discussing the big bag of money they found. Many of the students were reluctant readers. I heard groans of “Oh man, Mrs. B. can’t we continue reading?” But instead, I handed out paper and pencils and asked them to draw what they thought would occur next. I’m a tricky teacher….

Research

In researching this article, I came upon a tremendous website–Readingrockets.org. who says it much better than I can.

  1. Listening to others read develops an appreciation for how a story is written and familiarity with book conventions, such as “once upon a time” and “happily ever after”.

  2. Reading aloud demonstrates the relationship between the printed word and meaning – children understand that print tells a story or conveys information – and invites the listener into a conversation with the author.

  3. Listening to others read develops key understanding and skills. Reading aloud demonstrates the relationship between the printed word and meaning – children understand that print tells a story or conveys information – and invites the listener into a conversation with the author (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000).

  4. Reading aloud makes complex ideas more accessible and exposes children to vocabulary and language patterns that are not part of everyday speech. It exposes less able readers to the same rich and engaging books that fluent readers read on their own, and entices them to become better readers. (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).

Libraries

How does a family select the right play to read together? I’d suggest checking out a public library. They have a fountain of plays to read including many versions of classics such as Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, Charlotte’s Web or Huckleberry Finn. If reading an entire play script seems overwhelming, look into reader’s theatre scripts. They are short, concise, edited well and give the “nugget” of the story. They are a great stepping off point for young readers to pique their interest, giving them a feeling of success before they tackle the complete novel.

Reading Experts

Children’s literature consultant Susie Freeman states, “If you’re searching for a way to get your children reading aloud with comprehension, expression, fluency, and joy, reader’s theater is a miracle. Hand out a photocopied play script, assign a part to each child, and have them simply read the script aloud and act it out. That’s it. And then magic happens.”

Aaron Shephard

One of my favorite authors of reader’s theatre scripts is Aaron Shephard. Check him out at http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/. He has adapted a treasure trove of stories, many multicultural, including original ones of his own. I have used a host of his scripts including Legend of Lightning Larry with an ESL drama club, The Legend of Slappy Hooper with a creative dramatics class, and the beloved Casey at the Bat with an introduction to theatre class plus various other scripts.

So, the next time on a really hot summer day your family is stuck indoors and has exhausted every other avenue of entertainment or learning, pick up a play script! I promise you a magical and great time of reading.

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

To purchase a copy of my book, Bumbling Bea go to Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah is a newly retired drama teacher through the Apex Home Enrichment Program in the St. Vrain Valley School District.  She has taught all subjects of drama and directed over 250 youth theatre plays for nearly thirty-eight years.  This summer, she’ll direct Aladdin, Kids and The Wizard of Oz. She and her husband recently moved to Kansas to be near their family.   Her award winning middle grade book, Bumbling Bea can be purchased through Amazon.com.  Check out her blog at:  Dramamommaspeaks.wordpress.com or her website at: BumblingBea.com