Twelve Important Questions to Ask About Your City’s Community Theatre

I have been involved in theatre for nearly forty years. I have twelve important questions to ask about your city’s community theatre.

Forty years—wow, that’s a long time.

I’ve seen fabulous theatre and some really stinky stuff, too.  Even on Broadway!

I’ve melted enduring out door theatre in the dead of summer until intermission when I could get some relief in an air conditioned rest room.

I witnessed a famous, well respected professional actor break character and fall into fits of laughter and not able to compose himself right through curtain call.

Another time I caught a dancer kicking a cape off the stage that had fallen off another dancer as he exited.

I’ve watched:

  • in horror as a friend’s period wig (1700’s) falls right off her noggin’.

  • a skirt slowly make its way down a high school girl’s behind because it didn’t get zipped,

  • a friend swallows a fly while singing

I have:

  • been bitten by mosquitoes while I sang a romantic song trying to dodge the gnats swirling in to my face

  • heard the crackling sound of beetles squished with my heel while dancing a jig

  • gained five pounds in one week (!!) from eating fruit pies (meat pies) for Sweeney Todd performing a sight gag

You name it, I’ve seen it or experienced it myself.

Image result for award winning community theatre

Despite all of these experiences (and more), I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Theatre is a marvelous activity in which to participate, attend or support.

But how does one know the theatre is worth supporting?

Here are the twelve questions to ask of your community theatre:

1. Does the theatre company have a season?

Is the season varied, sprinkled with a comedy, drama and musical? Or do they merely produce the same sort of shows every year?  (You know, a Disney musical for the kids, a classic comedy or frightening thriller? Does the company ever produce a brand new play?)

2. Do they sponsor a special event, such as a new play contest?

3.  Does anyone else ever rent the theatre for some other activity? Do other theater companies use the venue?

4.  Do they welcome to new directors and actually hire them?

5.  Do you ever see new performers or designers working at the theatre from time to time?

Image result for award winning community theatre

6. Do the sets and costumes look recycled?  Can you name the show a particular costume was worn in another show when you see it paraded in front of you in the present show you are seeing?

8.  Does every show poster look like others?

9.  Does the company ever try anything new or experimental?

10.  Does the company have a youth theatre program?

11.  How about any programs for seniors?

Image result for award winning community theatre senior program

12.  Did you leave a performance feeling exhilarated by the show?

If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding “no!”, then I’d suggest you support some other company.

Theatre people are creative people.  If the theatre never changes, it means it’s on auto pilot and frankly, I wouldn’t support it if I were you.  When you do, you are condoning their lack of creativity, their laziness.

So, there you have it–twelve questions to ask about your city’s community theatre.

Trust me, support the new community theatre company who has just opened their doors to the public.  They have more chance of doing something new and exciting than the broken record one.  They need your support.

Image result for award winning community theatre

What have you seen or experienced in a performance or viewing it?  I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at or








Give Me Sixty Minutes and I’ll Give You a Guaranteed Successful Play


Yes, give me sixty minutes (for five days) and I’ll give you a guaranteed successful play. Are you looking for  something multicultural?  A short, one act play with room for a large cast?  Or a cast as small as ten?

I got you covered!

I taught middle school drama for twelve years.  In that time, I was expected to teach the students the components of theatre.

This would, of course, include a performance of some kind.

I taught six rotations per year.  Every twenty-five days, seventy kids would float through my classroom door.

Some loved performing, many didn’t.

Over time, I experimented with many plays and finally created my own adaptations.

Ojisan and the Grateful Statues is a week long unit. I’d suggest breaking the project into four one hour rehearsals.

It includes:

  • a ROYALTY FREE script which can be copied as many times as you need

  • stage properties list

  • original song (a page dedicated to the melody and another with accompaniament)

  • costume suggestion list

  • and loads of fun! (Nah, that’s up to you.  I’m just seeing if you are actually reading.)

I produced Ojisan with my classes at least six times with both elementary and middle school grade students.

  I tweaked it, re-wrote and staged the play until it worked.


Because of my time “in the trenches” for nearly forty years, I can guarantee you this play will be a winner with your students.

It’s a great piece to use for a parent open house.

Ojisa and the Grateful Statues is a beloved Japanese tale.  It contains themes of winter, kindness and forigveness, a bit of comedy and drama.

You can’t beat that.

Your students have an opportunity to create paper snowflakes and paper rice hats.  I even provided links to snowflake and paper hat making directions.  You’re welcome.

For those students who are performance shy, they can accompany the play with percussion instruments. The music score provides suggestions for you.

Maybe your vocal music teacher would be willing to co-teach the play.  I have done that, too.

So there go–a successful play, Ojisan and the Grateful Statues.

If you are interested in other lessons, I have several Teacherpayteachers products.  Check them out at:

Ready to purchase Ojisan and the Grateful Statues, go here:

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Hybrid Class

13 Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid Class, Day 10


Today, is day 10 of this series on How to Create a Successful College Hybrid Class.  My goal is to create a successful hybrid college class which I can teach many times over the next few years.

You know the song, “It’s all about the Bass”?  I would call this post “It’s all about Working Together”.

Can you envision five college kids huddled in their overcoats checking their cell phones rather than speaking to one another.

The students are assigned to create a group presentation speech.  It started off well.

However, when the students don’t communicate in person I begin to think nothing is occurring.

Somewhat I’m correct about this.

Our hybrid class hasn’t met since last Friday. the students were given all weekend to work on their section of the group speech.

It is Wednesday.

Today, the students were given the entire class period to work on their speech together.

Notecards were to be ready, a bibliography, outline, a visual aid and manuscript of the speech were to be finished up.

We are twenty minutes into class and three of the five students are ready to go.

Two others looked perplexed.  Oh, we had to have everything ready today?

Those two pulled out note cards and jotted down their notes.


The group leader has emailed me several times expressing her frustration with the quality of the speech.  I assured her she wouldn’t be penalized because of this. Mind you, everyone in this group is plenty capable of “A” work if they so choose.

It is very quiet in here.  I guess the three finished are waiting for the other two.

I broke this project into five parts:

Introduction (one person)

Body (three people)

Conclusion (one person)

Each person in the project had other responsibilities as well:

  • the one who introduces leads the group
  • the one who concludes creates the visual aid slides
  • the three who have written the body of the speech–time, create the bibliography and the speech outline

This hybrid class is being developed to answer the need for those seeking classes over a short time.

Since this is a commuter college, it is difficult for the students to get together.  I gave them this class period to practice the speech.

I’ve moved to a computer lab.  If I’m in the room, it’s too easy for me to step in and correct or suggest anything.

I want their speech to feel like one of other students’ group projects in a regular classroom.


Today, I learned communicating is one of this generation’s biggest challenges.  They simply don’t talk to one another.  It has become so second nature to them, it’s a cop out now.  Why speak to the kid in your group when something is lacking in their speech if you can just email them?

Except they were to include me in all email.

Yeah, that hasn’t happened.

My goal is still the same–to create a hybrid class. 

I’ll have to think about how to fix this problem.  I think there is a way to create a group for them to speak on line which includes me.  Not a forum, but a different sort of configuration.  Hmmm.


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hybrid college class

13 Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day 7


Oops!  I bet you are wondering where the Thirteen Days to Creating a Hybrid College Class, Day 6’s blog post is.

During our winter break, I emailed, graded and created lessons for the students.

I never stopped “hybrid teaching” for more than a day.  We visited friends and it was pretty convenient to take a little time each day to keep up with the grading as it was posted by the students and still have time to enjoy with them.

But uhm…..while driving home from Ohio and seeing these wonderful friends, I totally forgot we were to have class on Day 6.  Totally. forgot!


Once I realized it, we were too far away from home for us to get there in time for me to teach class the next day.

I think it was Freudian…I planned for day 6 in the syllabus supplement, so at least at some point the day was on my mind.

Somewhere in there it slipped my mind.

No matter–the wonders of the internet saved the day and everyone was notified by email before the class.  I didn’t want anyone to show up at 8:10 a.m. and my smiling face wouldn’t be there.

Today is Day 7 of teaching a hybrid class.


Speaking of the wonders of internet, let’s talk about email…..or maybe it’s a headache.  I suppose it all depends upon who you are communicating with and its importance.

Since this hybrid class is studied both in class and at home, students have two ways for emailing me.  One is through the college’s email and one is through my personal email.

The professors are encouraged to only use our college email, but in a case like this hybrid I thought it was more important for the students to be able to have quick access to me than going through the school email.

Sometimes we have success, sometimes we don’t.

Primarily, the tricky part is turning in homework assignments in a timely manner.  Since I am checking both email accounts as well as the coursework upload files, it is difficult to keep everything organized.

Next time, I will A. show the students how to access their student accounts and how to use them and  B. we will only use the upload file and file assignment feature and C. I’ll keep a check list (or at least use my gradebook, duh…) to track completed assignments and those which are late.

At present, I find myself clicking back and forth from the coursework page to the email to see if the students have turned in their assignments by the due date and time.

Oh gosh, it’s crazy!

student computer

Plus, since the students are working from home there have been several times where they have sent to two assignments in one file upload and not told me.  It becomes a case of:

ME:  Student X, I don’t have your Youtube critique.

STUDENT X:  You don’t?  I sent it in with the chapter homework. The assignment due date window was going to close and I thought it would be better to send them together than not get it in one time.

ME:  Good thought!  Unfortunately, I didn’t know that.  I wonder where it is?

STUDENT X:  I’ll email it to you again.  Which account?

ME:  My college email address is fine.

STUDENT X:  I forgot.  I typed it on my dad’s computer and I don’t have it here.  I’ll send it once I get home.

And so forth and so on……

Another headache?  One student doesn’t receive my emails until five hours later.  His network is crazy slow.  What’s that about?

I’d say one big challenge of creating a hybrid class is the internet. If it’s unreliable, you are in for some real headaches.

student computer

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hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Five

The flipped classroom:  Kindness through Christmas cookies.

christmas cookies

If you’ve been following the blog this week, you have taken my journey right along with me as I navigate the “flipped classroom” waters.

Today, something interesting occurred.  The students talked to me!

Could it be the decorated sugar cookies I brought to class did the trick?  I wanted to reward all of us for a job well done this week.  None of us are used to having a 8:10 class five days consecutively.


The kids took one look at the cookies and grabbed them.  My international students don’t even get to travel home for the holidays.  They seemed especially grateful.

All I know is something changed. We’ve  become accustomed to one another. Yeay!

christmas cookies

I think it’s fair to say taking the time to extend kindness is important.  It’s easy in an intensive situation such as this to lose sight of the human quotient.  We are working at such a hectic pace– reading, grading, writing, discussing through forums and viewing video clips we forget we are first human beings.

Humans need one on one time with each other.

The cookies reminded all of us that is was the holiday season and we needed to have fun even though we are madly working at this fundamentals-of -speech thing.

Giving your students a little gift works wonders, too.

I purchased highlighters and handed them out at the end of class for the students to use on their next assignment rubric (persuasive speech).  Although I hadn’t planned for the kids to keep them, they seemed to want them.  Suddenly, I had a gift.

Sugar cookies and highlighters.  Who knew?

christmas cookies

Keep a look out for my next post.  It won’t be for several days, because I am blogging in real time about the experience, but I’ll be back with stories about what occurs while we aren’t in class these next twelve days.

The flipped classroom will do the work for me. I’ll merely step in and out several times to check my email for homework assignments, and replies to the next forum discussion.

Until then, please enjoy your holiday as well.  Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

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hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Four


Let’s talk about the value of Tedtalks to a flipped classroom.

Baby, they are awesome!

Please know I’m not expert about teaching at the college level, although I have taught college aged students for many years.

This is much more formal instruction.


tedtalk 2 (2)

I viewed my first one several years ago, but many of my students are not familiar with them.

They are a tremendous help to most any teacher on most any subject. I think they are catching on, because Tedtalks are just too good not to be mentioned by someone. Some are shared on Facebook many times.

They are very useful.

In my case, my students can view an expert who speaks eloquently.  Their speech is succinct because it’s been rehearsed.  It’s entertaining and usually educational.

Many are humorous.  Here is one my students and I enjoy:

“Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator” by Tim Urban

This particular talk is great for high school and college students.  Tim speaks about his procrastination tendencies and boy, does he have them. Procrastination is familiar to all us, universal.

Another one which is terrific  for  a speech class is Caroline Goyd’s

“The Surprising Secret to Speaking with Confidence”

These two Ted talks are completely different in style and tone.  Tim’s is laid back and funny.  Carol’s is professional and thoughtful.

I enjoy both.

In a flipped classroom, Ted Talks can take your place or they can compliment your teaching.

I’d suggest you peruse their topics and see if any will work for you.  Also, I  advise you to check on Youtube for them.  For some reason, not all talks are stored on the Tedtalk website.

Did you know there are students who give Tedtalks now?

Here is one by Jack Andraka, “A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer from a Teenager”

Just think how a teen Tedtalk can inspire your students. Visual learning is paramount to a student’s intellectual growth.

It’s worked with mine.  Try it.

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hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Three

Day Three

Today, the Christmas cookies hit the fan so to speak…..


Picture this:

It is a cold, grey December day. There’s chill in the air, the kind that nearly freezes you to the bone.

Typical mid western weather in December.

Oh joy.

It’s early–only 8:10 a.m.  In comes my little flock who look half asleep. The students aren’t chatting with each other and certainly not with me.  I ask how everyone’s evening went and no one answers.

No feedback to me that’s for sure.

(Pause)  I have a theory about this–if I don’t speak to the teacher it is as if the class isn’t occurring.  I can stay “checked out.”

Mwwaahhaaaa….they don’t know me, though.


I go through the day’s list of activities and I must say, it is a long one.

The first thing I mention is forums.  One of the high school kids looks bewildered, but the girl beside him restates it for him.  (I have no idea why she feels she must restate what I say when I am standing right there and can do it for him myself, but hey she is 17 and doesn’t everyone know EVERYTHING when they are 17?)

Sorry, I digress…

I’ve never had the opportunity to use a forum with a class.  I was hesitant at first, only because I didn’t understand how the students post and reply.

I now understanding why forums are crucial to a flipped class.

Checked forums off my list! Forums give you the feedback a teacher is seeking.


When I was a student, we spoke to our professors out of respect.  My parents made it clear to me to respect my elders and even as an adult, I am aware of any adults who are older than I who should be treated with the utmost respect for their wisdom and age.

I wasn’t raised with a cell phone in my hand.

Telephone calls were kept to a minimum and calling long distance was an extravagance.  My father was a doctor so we could afford those state-to-state telephone calls, but regardless I wrote letters.

We learned how to write a letter when we were in elementary school.

Is letter writing even taught any more?

No texting, either.

As we all know, the technological world has changed tremendously over the last fifty years.

In all defense of these students, the art of conversation isn’t something they are used to practicing.  (We’ll practice conversing the last day of the semester. )

I can all ready see how a forum is a fantastic method of communication.  For those of you unfamiliar with them, it is truly brilliant.  The teacher poses an article, video clip and/or questions he wants the students to ponder.  The student is required to make one post regarding the teacher’s post and replies to other students’ replies as well.

Ladies and gentlemen–we have conversation!!!

Forums are essential to a flipped class.



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hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Two

Day 2


Flipping a class isn’t easy.

Today, I spent about two and a half hours organizing everything for tomorrow–power point for chapters’ answers, college level speech example and outline of the speech, creating another power point with examples of notecards to coincide today’s speech and tweak a forum post.  I graded the pre test and their homework from last night and entered all of this in the gradebook.

If you think that’s a lot of time for a one hour class, you don’t know teaching.  It’s time consuming.

I’ve used video clips to explain certain concepts.  I knew it was a great tool.


Enter Youtube.

I jumped on Youtube and spent only thirty minutes searching for clips of teachers teaching the next two chapters’ information–delivery and language. Just thirty minutes! In the grand scheme of things, that is a pittance compared to all the other time I spend.

I  planned for the students to read two chapters from the textbook for Thursday (some thirty pages). I decided it would be better for them if they viewed video clips to attain some of the same information.

In addition, they must write half of the first draft of their informative speech due to me on Thursday, too. I will peruse all the speeches and give individual feedback to them.

Viewing the clips will save them time even though they’ll still have to answer the chapter questions.

Flipped learning–It’s all about independent learning, saving time, differentiated instruction and individual guidance from the teacher.

Today, I learned about using video clips and the true value of them for a teacher–saving time!

Thank goodness for Youtube.


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hybrid college class

13 Steps to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class Day One

Day One

A bit earlier this semester, I was asked to create an intensive hybrid speech class.  It sounded fun to me.  (I know not everyone would enjoy creating curriculum, but there you go…)


Since we are just sitting around here sort of waiting for Christmas festivities with our family (does everyone else feel that way?), I had the time to create it.  So, although I say “gulp”, I am also metaphorically standing here like Wonder Woman.  I. can. do. it.

wonder woman


Honestly, I had no idea what I got myself into, but that isn’t unusual for me.  I’ve taught drama and speech classes for nearly forty years–I mean, how difficult can it be?


I looked around on the web and found several sites and Pinterest pins concerning the subject, so that persuaded me I could put the hybrid together.

However, if I’m going to learn from all of this, I need to analyze what I am doing right and wrong during these thirteen days when I teach one for the first timeflip


First, I had to get the lingo straight.  I was calling it an “a cross between an online and traditional class”.  Duh.  This is completely incorrect!

On line classes occur only on line.  Hybrid classes use textbooks and can have one on one teaching time with students or time in a classroom.  Hybrid’s use various modalities to teach–on line learning from various sources (websites, video clips, on line documents, etc. )Hybrid classes are usually only offered for lower level classes.

That’s the first thing I learned.  

In thirteen days, I must teach an entire textbook’s worth of material.

No problem….(gulpIn theory this should work.  Here’s why:

The students are reading, writing speeches, viewing a lot of information on line, answering forum posts, creating notecards, outlines, bibliographies, etc. and attending class with me for 70 minutes each of the thirteen days.  During the interim for Christmas and New Year’s the students have assignments to do as well.

How intensive is this?  Well, their first speech, an informative one, is due on Friday.  Tomorrow, they are presenting a little self introduction for us.

Two speeches down, two to go.

I thought this would be difficult for the students to complete.   A faculty member asked, “Once they saw all they had to do, did they run out the door?”

The answer is no. It didn’t seem to faze them.


These days, students are used to online assignments and many have taken hybrid classes in the past.   Gone are the days of sitting in a lecture hall, or if not gone maybe there are a few less of them.

I am going to work just as hard as the students.  And, I have to stay ahead of them!

For instance, thus far I have spent about three hours today just getting everything ready for tomorrow.

Today I created hand outs for: writing notecards, informative speech topics, and rubrics for an informative speech and forum discussion.

Prior to the first class, I probably spent about six hours planning the class.  Why so long?  Because I planned the entire intensive so the students would have every assignment and due date at their finger tips.

I figure that’s the least I can do for them.

Truthfully, that’s ok with me.  I am more valuable and employable with everything I learn to do as far as higher education is concerned.  I’m interested in teaching additional classes on line in the future.

It sounds like more and more people are taking to learning in this manner.  I want to be one of the teachers who can provide the instruction for them.


For instance, I’d never had to make power point for a class because in the past, I taught drama classes.  Most of the time my classes were hands-on, not lecture.

So, I can check off “creating a power point” from my list.


However, I am all ready seeing the value of on line learning.  Because of the net the world is truly our oyster.

My favorite example of web gold is Ted Talks.  They are a dream for a speech teacher.  My first semester students, mostly high school kids, hadn’t been introduced to Tedtalks. They enjoyed them a lot and shared with me they had viewed others in. their. free. time.  What?

Ironically, I first learned about Tedtalk on Facebook.  Facebook, who knew?

A wonderful by-product of  Tedtalks is they are tremendously interesting and thought provoking.

I use one on procrastination, ten tips to becoming a better conversationalist and several others.  I’ve also used them for extra credit.

Today, I learned how to put a forum together thanks to my daughter.

She’s studying for her masters in education so she can teach drama.  (Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree….) She filled me in on how her professors use forums as a way to enrich the lessons.  I was interested in hearing what she thought were the positive and drawbacks from forums.  She had no complaints.

We’ll see how this goes.  Who knows what tomorrow holds?  

It’s Cyber Monday Every Day at

Bumbling Bea copy

At Dramamommaspeaks, every Monday (or every day for that matter) is Cyber Monday.

I have a great gift for you here at

Are you beginning to think about purchasing gifts for the up coming holidays?

Do you have a reader in mind?

I bet they’d love a book with the author’s autograph.

Do I have the deal for you!

We are now on where I am only selling autographed copies.

For the same price as I would sell the book at a festival or book talk, I will sign your book for FREE.

Go to

Part of the challenge for indie authors is getting the word out about our books.  You can help me with this by purchasing a book for a young friend.  Or, you can purchase the book yourself.

I’m always seeking more reviews for Bumbling Bea, too.  You’d be surprised at how many people of different ages have read Bumbling Bea.  That’s one of the most fun parts of my journey as a writer.  I get to see how the story affects different people and what they take away from it.

I will try to impress you now…

I have been a drama teacher and director for thirty-nine years.

I have won awards for both.

I am an award winning author. I’ve been interviewed several times about Bumbling Bea, the most recent was a podcast with a world wide membership.  Check it out here:

Check out reviews at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and  I think you’ll be pleased.

And as always–

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