Category Archives: drama education

The Hidden Meaning Behind “There are No Small Parts only Small Actors”

The Hidden Meaning Behind “There are No Small Parts only Small Actors”


The Tony Awards show is Sunday, June 11!  I’ve been listening to the Sirius Broadway station all week (honestly, I do most days anyway) and it’s wonderful to hear the performers’ interviews and all the nominated show music.

The Tony Awards are the Oscar Awards for Broadway–except they are more classy, in my humble opinion.

Theatre is different.

It is special, because it is live.

What’s the hidden meaning behind, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”?

I got to thinking about the performers who are playing smaller parts in the nominated productions.  If you ever see them on television in a short quip on a syndicated news or talk show, you’ll observe those supporting characters and chorus members are just as invested in the production as the leading actors.

That’s impressive.  I bet the nominated actors and actresses began as chorus members and under studies many years ago.  They put in their time and earned their stripes to receive the spotlight.

Just because you are cast in a small part does not mean you are not important to the show. If you think so, you have missed the point entirely.

You are still important to the show.  Believe me.

However, if you can’t get past the fact that you are certain you could portray the role you didn’t receive just as well or better than the person cast, it might be best for you to focus on something else in your life.

 Get over yourself, you know?

Brighton Beach (2)

I was Blanche in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” 1989

If you aren’t cast in the role you wanted, it is not a big enough reason not to be involved in a production.  Maybe you are to learn or gain something else from the experience? Life is a journey, you know.

For several days after I cast a production, some times I deal with hurt egos of cast members or those who auditioned for me and didn’t receive the role they desired.

I know I’ve previously mentioned this–casting a production has a lot to do with who a director envisions in a role.

Sometimes I have no idea who I want to play a part.  Other times, the right person walks in and is perfect. They are the essence of the character all ready.

 Some people can mold themselves into what I am looking for.  Those people are special because they are versatile.

There are other factors in the decision to cast someone, however.

Do I know their work?  Are they responsible?  Are they known to be difficult to direct and/or not a team member?

cricket on the hearth (2)

I was Dot in “Cricket in the Hearth” 2000

There are people who can only portray straight roles.  Straight roles are those parts most closely related to your personality.  Have you ever seen someone in a movie who plays the same sort of roles in each movie?  The roles the actor portrays is much like her off screen. Aha. Personally, I think Meg Ryan is a good example of someone who can only portray a straight role.

Then there are character roles.  Characters roles are those parts which are unlike you–because of your age, stature or personality. Paul Giamatti can portray character roles with such genius.

Character roles:

ugly step sister

Wicked Witch

Cowardly Lion


Straight roles:





Luckily, I can play both straight and character roles. That makes me more valuable to a director.   To be honest, I enjoy performing character roles the most, because usually they are interesting and unique.

It isn’t about playing the lead.  It is about who you are best suited to portray.

Guess what?  I have not been cast in a production before.  No joke!  (I’m scoffing here a bit.  I hope you understand.)

So, chin up! If you don’t receive the role you craved for, your time will come in the future.

Watch the Tony Awards this Sunday, June 11 and pick out the chorus members or those supporting characters you notice.

I know several actors who will perform that evening.  I am very excited for them.

 Shout a Bravo to your television and I will, too.

I think they will magically hear us…..

Importance of Beaing Earnest (2)

I was Miss Prism in “Importance of Being Earnest” 1976

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The Truth About My Teacher Blog 

The Truth About My Teacher Blog 









You may have noticed I don’t have any drama lesson plans to share on my blog.  If I were you, I’d be thinking, This blog is called Dramamommaspeaks. What’s the deal? 

But here’s the truth: 

I have been stalling about sharing them. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would be interested.

Then I noticed I have several posts which are read quite a lot and they speak about the tricks of the trade. Better yet, the readers come from all over the world!


I will share them before the summer is over, I promise. However, they will be for sale at a minimal cost.

Why must someone pay for them?

I’m a professional with 38 years of teaching and directing experience.

I’m an expert.

I know what works and what doesn’t, what is appropriate for each grade level and what is not. (For instance, not all drama students can handle the same improvisation exercises.)

These are GUARANTEED winners.


Subjects I will offer:

  • Creative Dramatics

  • Introduction to Theatre

  • Introduction to Musical Theatre

  • Introduction to Shakespeare

  • Storytelling

  • Technical Theatre

  • Film Making

And more!

Are you following this blog? If not, please do.

Here are some posts which might be useful to you if you are a drama teacher:

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful–Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching Drama-Elementary

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching-Middle School

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching – High School

The Lessons I Learned from Working as a Drama Teacher

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

You can also find me on Facebook at Bumbling Bea

On Pinterest at DhBaldwin #drama teacher

Or Twitter at Bumbling Bea or Deborah Baldwin

Talk with you soon!

The Importance of Teaching

The Importance of Teaching

There it is….the respect for it is long gone. Thank you teachers. You are the salt of the earth 

Top Seven Reasons Drama Education is Important to Your Student, Part 2

Top Seven Reasons Drama Education is Important to Your Student, Part 2

This is a two part series.  Click here for part one:

Drama Class:

Teaches creative problem solving—In the best-selling book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink writes,”In short, we have progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we’re progressing yet again—to a society of creators and empathizers, or pattern recognizers and meaning makers.”directing-oklahoma

Oklahoma! First read thru–Presser Performing Arts Center  July 2009

When a group of students tackle any problem and solve it together using their imaginations to project an outcome and then produce it, they are incredibly valuable. I have the honor to work with some of my students for nearly six years.

They are very adept at creative problem solving. Recently, my co-teacher and I charged our musical theatre students with the task of creating of the wall, dying trees and flowers with their bodies in our production of the musical, Secret Garden.

Without discussing it very much, the students twisted and contorted themselves to make the atmosphere we intended.  We complimented them and they beamed with pride.

Through creative problem solving, we stretch the boundaries of what can’t be done to what can be. Voila!  Besides, creative problem solving makes one happy.

Lastly, drama is just plain fun!  Teachers know that humor helps students learn more efficiently.  We are joyful when we are relaxed.  When we are relaxed, we are more likely to learn. Through studying drama and performing, we laugh, poke fun at ourselves and develop a kind of camaraderie with one another that is rarely experienced anywhere else.

We create a strong bond that isn’t easily splintered.  Some of my best friends have come from working on a production together.  My play production experiences are the some of the greatest memories I have of my life.

Several years ago, a professional actor and director-friend of mine remarked that, “Theatre is history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, music, dance, art all wrapped into one.”  He’s right.   It makes us more human by “playing” at being a human. Where else can you find that?


Check out part one here:

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Why Public Education is Important and the Reasons to Provide it

Why Public Education is Important and the Reasons to Provide it

I can give you tons of reasons why public education is important and the reasons to provide it.

But there is only one defense of it that truly matters. Read on.


My father was a physician.  By the age of twenty-one, I had traveled all over the world (Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Soviet Union and Japan).  Consequently, my world view was completely different from my peers.  Just think what a child born into lower economics would have gained from such experiences?

I attended a private womens college.  You want to talk about a microcosm?  Your life becomes the world around you, right?  Honestly, it is easy to forget other people are suffering when your roommate’s only challenge is to get the best tan she can before she travels to the coast for Spring Break.  That was her reality, not mine.

Mine wasn’t as superficial, but I was plenty privileged.  Somehow, I knew so and this awareness serves me well. My father was raised on a farm when he was a child and my mother’s parents were missionaries in Japan.  Plus, they lived through the Great Depression.

There were times my parents were very poor.  Consequently, their childhood’s formed them which in turn shaped mine.  I knew I was fortunate. I was expected to help others, share my bounty and support those who were hurting. I have never forgotten this.

About thirteen years ago, I noticed the ELL students at my middle school weren’t fraternizing with the American students.  This bothered me.  I knew both groups could gain much from each other.  So, I developed an ELL Drama Club primarily to give the ELL students an opportunity to be seen in the school. They performed on the multicultural assembly.  They were so excited and loved every minute of it! It was a tremendous experience for us and one I will never forget, either.







However, experiencing both public and private schools allows me a viewpoint some privileged folks never have.

I have a good grasp on the importance of public education and the reasons to retain it as our best option for educating our students.

I have taught:

  • at  private and public schools
  • the wealthiest students in a private, very prestigious preparatory program
  • the poorest students in a summer program with city funding
  • home schooled students
  • students in an arts magnet school
  • general drama education class to five hundred sixth graders, seventy-five at a time (for twelve years, I taught 400 sixth graders each year, yikes!)
  • created curriculum for individual courses in Drama from creative dramatics to film making
  • and a mixed bag of other teaching experiences too numerous to mention here.

There is one important reason that public education is vital to our country.

Simply put:

Public education gives everyone an equal opportunity to become educated and to reach their potential. All children and adults have the right to an education if they so choose.  No matter a person’s age or social status, everyone should be allowed to learn to read and write.

We are a varied society, rich in cultures from around the world. This is one of our greatest strengths, don’t you think? Living in a micrcosm of any sort divides us.  This is less likely to occur in a public school setting.

Public school levels the playing field.  There are many students who were born into extreme poverty and neglect only to become some of our most decorated heroes and role models.  In public schools, they can learn alongside students of privileged backgrounds. Generally, privilege gives one choices not easily provided for students with lesser opportunities. Public school gives opportunity to everyone of every economic background. It is that simple. 






You can argue until the cows come home about the reasons against public school education, but more than anything it merely comes down to this:

Public education embodies equal rights and provides an equal education for everyone. Period.

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Arts Education for Everyone




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How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching – High School

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching – High School

This is a three part series.  This is the third.  Read the first and second here:

So, here we are at the final grade level of students.  When I was a beginning teacher, I was certain I wanted to teach and direct high school kids.  I envisioned having a thriving drama department with a stage at my disposal. I figured I would take kids to state level theatre competitions.  Maybe I’d direct an all school musical once a year.  Boy, was I wrong!

Instead, my personal journey includes becoming a youth theatre administrator (3 times), drama teacher in the private and public sector and a director for youth theatre and community theaters (for over 38 years). Interestingly, I have coached someone else’s kids for the state level and judged many competitions but never actually took them myself to state.

I’ve directed over 250 plays and musicals in and out of schools.  I’ve worked out of state, created summer drama camps, developed curriculum and written class plays, created an ELL drama club (the first of its kind in the nation), co-developed a national playwriting contest and a host of other things.  Overachiever?  I’d say so. I didn’t know myself very well when I was twenty-one years old.  Did you?

Disney’s Lil Mermaid, Jr. mermaids–9th through twelfth grade

Personally, I think high school students are the easiest grade level to teach IF they are interested in your instruction. But if they aren’t interested? They can be as obnoxious as an overly tired grade schooler who had too much sugar before bed.

 If they are bored, they can be whiney, pout and rival all the elementary and middle school kids combined!

Luckily, drama is an elective course……

Last year, I taught a technical theatre class with senior high students.  It took me quite a spell to understand that they didn’t want me to do much more than get them started on an assignment.  No hands-on help for them!  They problem solved on their own, reported back to me for clarification and got to it!  It was most impressive.

Provide clear instructions and expected outcome.

Serve as an assistant to them in their learning.

Guide them don’t boss them.

A freshmen as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank

Inspire them.  If you think they can achieve more than they are demonstrating to you or even if you don’t think they, for heavens sake, never settle!

I’m not a member of the “good enough” club. Push them.  Challenge them to do their best and they will rise to the challenge.

Set out a timeline for completion of a project, scene study or deadlines on a rehearsal calendar, but expect to be flexible with the deadlines.  High school students are busy kids–many on sports teams as well as in the school play, working an evening job or baby sit their siblings after school.  They need you to be somewhat adaptable.  Generally, they will come through for you.

It is acceptable to them for you to give them public criticism.

Occasionally, you can gently tease them but expect them to tease back! And accept it.

They are willing to be role models, even for a student only a year younger than they.

Permit them to explore an assignment as far as they are willing.

Put them in positions of leadership, allowing them to learn through the responsibility. For instance, if you ask one to assistant director for you, give them a scene in the play to block and direct.  Use the blocking and direction they gave in your show.  So what if the scene isn’t perfect? It is more important for the  entire group to see you trust them and didn’t meddle.

They need a mentor/friend at this age.  Keep a line of professionalism, but do include them in your life.  They love being close to you.

Treat them with respect for the young adult they are becoming.

I hope you enjoy teaching students of all ages as much as I have.  I bet you find your niche quickly.

My high school cast of “Into the Woods”


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