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!

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: 

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.

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:

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.

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I’d love to hear from you!

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No Small Parts

The Hidden Meaning Behind “There Are No Small Acting Parts Only Small Actors”


I bet you have clicked on this post because you expect to find out  the hidden meaning  to “There are no small acting 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 portraying small acting parts and earned their stripes to receive the spotlight.

Just because you are cast in a small acting 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.

If you’d like to know about my acting journey, check this out: 

Watch the Tony Awards this Sunday, June 11 and pick out the chorus members or those supporting characters, folks portraying small acting parts.  See if you notice them.  If they are good at it, you’ll only observe them filling out the stage–sort of like shadows in a painting.

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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This is 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. This is why public education is important and the reasons to provide it.






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 and opportunities for everyone. Period.

If you’d like to see my teaching resume, go to: 

Two actors in The Fanstaicks

How Theatre Saved My Life

This is how theatre saved my life.  My imagination (and later, theatre specifically) saved my life. When I was a child, my mother was quite ill and consequently to show respect to her, I controlled my emotions. so I didn’t want compound her stress.

I was the youngest in my family. With ten years between me and my next closest sibling, I rarely had anyone to play with or talk to. I depended upon my imagination to comfort me and take me away from loneliness I felt but wouldn’t admit to anyone. I learned how to slap on a smile and pretend everything was good with me.  I was quite a little actress.

When I saw movies, I would act them out and sing very dramatically while sequestering myself upstairs on the east porch of our house. It had no heat and I remember freezing to death for my “art”.

I thought I was crazy, though. I never told my friends about my make believe playing and when I would visit their houses, they never played make believe. So I decided I wasn’t like everyone else. I played make believe until I was twelve.

My father was a physician and my mother was raised in Japan when she was a child. Consequently, her wander lust was difficult to satiate and we traveled to many countries when I was quite young.

If it wasn’t hard enough being the youngest, my world view was very different from my fellow classmates. Just another thing to make me an oddity, at least in my mind.

My mother wasn’t at all supportive of my interest in theatre. She intimated I could end up like Elizabeth Taylor, “She’s been married seven times. Look at her…”Something was mentioned about me ending up on a “casting couch.” I didn’t know what that was, but by my mother’s attitude I knew it must be bad.

Trying to be the good daughter,  I left behind my imagination and became a cheerleader in junior high school. It makes sense if you think about it. That worked for two years and I loved the performing aspect of it.  I was a rotten jumper.  No one taught me how to do a round off or cartwheel, so I taught myself.  But I could yell loudly and lead the crowd in cheers.  At least I could do that!

When I was in high school, I found exactly what I was seeking –the stage! I was cast in my first play as Madame Arcati in “Blithe Spirit”.  Since I had no previous acting experience, but lots experience playing the piano, I notated my script as if I was playing the piano. I used fermatas for pauses and crescendo and decrescendo signs when I wanted to speak louder or softer.

To this day, I grow nostalgic whenever I step backstage. The scent of sawdust, newly painted flats and the warmth of the stage lights are a magical elixir to me. I brush the back of my hand across a velvet grand curtain and immediately I feel I’m home.

This is how theatre saved my life
In college, I experienced an epiphany. It was the early 1970’s, and society impressed upon me to hide my negative feelings or only express those feelings most accepted by others. I realized by sharing myself hiding behind a character, I could express  all my feelings and thoughts. I felt accepted universally.

That’s a heady experience which made me come back for more. Nearly forty years later, I’m happily stuck here.

this is how theatre saved my life

I became a director for a community theatre production of The Miracle Worker because there was no one else willing to do the job. Ha! I have a leader type personality and directing fit into my life.
I was quite young to take on such a challenging production but I took to it right away. I saw the potential of affecting people through stories that I created in my own manner.

Now, I adore making a statement through words and actions.

As of this writing, I have directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  I chose to direct and act at the community level for most of my career.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy professional theatre.  On the contrary. I’ve appreciated the professional positions in which I have been employed.

It’s just not where my life’s journey has taken me.  I’m always open to work in whatever venue needs me.

I’ve portrayed many beloved roles–Maria in “The Sound of Music”, Marion Paroo in “Music Man”,  Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth”, Penny in “You Can’t Take it With You” and many others. Above all, more than any particular role or any special production, I have learned about myself.

Theatre saved my life.  It has given me great joy, creative challenges and great friendships (I even met my husband while acting in a show).

I don’t know where I would be without it.  image

Contact me at or check out my website at

I’d love to hear from you!

Three Times a Charm: An Author Interview 

Here is my author Interview from Three Times a Charm

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing.

 Today we welcome middle grade author, Deborah Baldwin. Deborah, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

I am an award winning drama teacher and director, professional actress and youth theatre administrator. I graduated from Stephens College with a BFA in theatre performance and a MED from Lesley College certified to teach drama, speech and English/language arts in Colorado and Missouri. I  created seven youth theatre programs and have served as a consultant to several theatre companies in the mid-west.

Many years ago I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays which is still in existence today. I have directed over 250 full length productions, plays and musicals alike and have inspired many of my students to become professional actors, dancers, directors, playwrights and teachers. My husband and I recently retired from our teaching positions and reside in Kansas to be nearer to our family. I have two daughters who are the best of friends, a wonderful step son and two quirky cats, Spats and Lala.

Let’s hear more about Bumbling Bea.  

Purple Dragonfly Award Winner for Excellence in Writing and Publishing:

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

“Hilarious! Entertaining! Extremely true! A great read for anyone who enjoys theater!” RM Amazon reviewer

“In addition to being a fun read, this book does what so much fine literature does— helps us to see we are not alone.” MM Amazon reviewer

“Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin cannot fail to become a favorite with pre-teen readers, and very likely teenagers too, because the mixture of pathos and humor is so realistic.” SS Readers Favorite reviewer

I recommend my book to readers who like:

5,6,7, Nate by Tim Federle

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

· Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.  

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I have beloved this book for many years as have many other readers. The plot is terrific and I enjoy that the story is told from a girl’s point of view.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman I picked up Backman’s book earlier this year and appreciated every part of it. If you haven’t read any of Backman’s books, I’d suggest you do so. I enjoy stories that are heavy on characterization, because my background is in theatre and when I direct plays, I help actors create characters all the time.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Hmmm. I’m seeing a trend here—I’ve chosen all books about girls told from their point of view. Ha! This book writing is poetic and it’s a wonderful story. It’s an interesting perspective to read a story about the average German citizen living through WWII.
· Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.  

I think indie publishing is a fabulous tool for any writer and it suits me perfectly. It isn’t necessary to have a publisher in order to be successful in this business. One can publish her book herself! I’ve always been a trail blazer—the kind of person that takes matters in her own hands when she sees a need or problem.

I noticed that we have a dearth of books on whatever subject is popular the time, but stories about the arts (especially theatre) are very few in number. When I share my story’s plot with readers of various ages, they were so appreciative. “Oh good. Not another book about Zombies or wizards. Bumbling Bea is something unique!” they say.

There are countless sources writers can utilize to attract readers. I particularly like which is a student book review website. They give student readers an opportunity to learn how to review under the tutelage of an adult. And the books are free to any student who would like to learn to review. What a deal! is an excellent, and very useful website for indie publishers. They have a monthly newsletter with many helpful articles concerning self publishing, lists of book reviewers who are seeking books to peruse, etc. If you complete your personal page and profile with Bookworks, you have the opportunity to be featured by them which is great exposure for you and your book.

·Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

My aunts, mother and sister were teachers so becoming a teacher was a natural choice for me as well. It’s one of my greatest gifts. Kids energize me and fulfill my need to share my knowledge of the dramatic arts. Even after thirty-eight years of teaching, my students continue to teach me something about myself that I didn’t know. It’s very humbling.
Early on in my life, I wanted to become a professional actress. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. When I graduated from college in the seventies, there weren’t as many opportunities for young actors to be employed as there are now. My choices were pretty much limited to moving to New York or Los Angeles. I wasn’t ready for that jump. Over time, I found that I wasn’t willing to struggle as much as the occupation required. I was just as happy acting or directing in community theatre, occasionally working as a voice over actress, etc.

I’m a doer—I like to “do” and not sit around waiting for life to happen to me. Because of this particular gift, I have had opportunities to create many projects I don’t think I would have been able to otherwise. I’ve formed youth theatre programs, co-developed a national playwriting contest, presided over the construction of a theater, written winning grants, introduced companies to radio theatre, directed just about any play or musical I wanted and guided two programs concerning diversity for Martin Luther King celebrations. And, I’m not even finished yet!

I was created to be a theatre artist, period. I knew it as a young girl when I’d play dress up on our east front porch of our home. It took about ten years for me to admit my interest to my parents. My father understood immediately. Although he chose to be a physician, he acted in plays in college and loved it. I think my mother and siblings thought I was crazy or at least “unusual”, but they tried their best to understand or merely tolerated me. However, my immediate family is heavily involved in the arts and appreciate my creativity.

 Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.   

“People of integrity expect to be believed. When they are not, time proves them right.” –Unknown

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” ― Winston Churchill

“Eighty percent of all choices are based on fear. Most people don’t choose what they want; they choose what they think is safe.” –Phil McGraw

Wow – that last one! Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.  and/or Deborah@DeborahHBaldwin

Thanks for joining us today, Deborah. It was great to get to know more about you and Bumbling Bea.
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The Majority of Drama Teachers do this and You Should Too!


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

Note:  Recently, I wrote several pieces concerning reading and literacy for  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.


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:



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

Give them back to me, or I’ll—


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!


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.


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….


In researching this article, I came upon a tremendous website– 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).


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 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.

There you have it:  this is what the majority of drama teachers do and you can too.  I can’t wait to hear how things go for you.  Do write me.

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To purchase a copy of my book, Bumbling Bea go to Amazon at


Kamishibai Paper Performance Storytelling Unit–Engaging and Unique

Let’s talk about Kamishibai Paper Performance, shall we?  Are you looking for an engaging and unique unit for your students?  An oral communication project for your students?  Check out my Kamishibai Paper Performance Storytelling unit on

The paper drama

Simply put, Kamishibai storytelling is a form of storytelling which integrates art and storytelling.

It can used with reading or an ELA, english/language arts, social studies, music  or drama class.  The subjects are endless.

Let’s say you have a reading class.  That’s an easy one.  Have your students draw picture for a particular book or chapter.  The next step is for them to tell the story.  What a great way to help your students retain the plot!

How about in social studies?  If you were studying Mexico, the students could create Kamishibai for a particular region’s folk lore (I advised one SS teacher who was teaching about Austrailia and they used Kamishibai to share Aborigine stories.)

ELA?  The students could create Kamishibai for an American tall tale.

English?  Mythology would work great with this form of storytelling.

Music?  Tell the story of the life of a famous composer.

Drama?  Use it was first intended (sorry, you’ll need to check out the actual lesson at for that.)

The Kamishibai Paper Performance product is a three week unit, complete with a day by day calendar, instructions for creating kamishibai (which is a little involved if you have never tried it, but I clear those worries up right away) and suggestions for extensions.

And….it’s a bargain.

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Beginning Acting–My Acting Debut in Third Grade


Let’s talk about beginning acting.

(That’s me, with all the hair, holding on to the young Oliver Twist, circa 1986 I think. Yikes!)

To this day, I have no idea how I got cast as Queen Isabella in third grade. I was a good reader and very expressive. I know we didn’t have auditions or at least I don’t think so. I mean, that was a long time ago.  I sort of remember my costume.  My mother made a crown out of cardboard, blue pop beads from a necklace of hers and aluminum foil.  I wore Mom’s clear-plastic-but-looked-glass wedding shoes (from the 1930’s, this was the l960’s) that cramped my feet something awful but I would never have complained.  Maybe I wore a white bathrobe as my gown.  Heck, I don’t know.

But I do know one thing:  I had wanted to be an actress since I was teeny.  We lived in a huge old brick house in a small town in Kansas.  It had three floors, four fireplaces, a front and back staircase (one for the servants to use, I guess but we had no servants) and two porches.  One porch was on the second floor and enclosed and another porch was connected to the living room.  On the upstairs porch, I spent many late afternoons and Saturdays playing dress up, making blanket forts under the ping pong table and dramatizing any and all books I had read or movies I had seen. There was no heat on the porch and I remember just about freezing off my toes in the dead of winter, and forget playing out there during those hot, hot Kansas summers! I’d go across the street to Lori’s house and have Orange Crush pop and soda crackers and bask in the breeze of her window air conditioner.

Mostly, I just pretended and pretended.

I kept real quiet about my pretending, because I was afraid people would think I was crazy and maybe I’d get in trouble with my parents.  That seemed to be a great fear I had.  I didn’t like to mess up and get those looks from them.  The ones that said, “Oh my. We are ashamed of you.” I still can’t handle those looks from people.

Sorry, I digress…

Acting was a fabulous outlet for me!  It was effortless and such fun!  I still enjoy it.  It is never stressful like directing can be for me. Don’t get me wrong, though.  I enjoy directing even with all of its stresses.  It is just very different from acting.

Deborah Conard Baldwin

I remember ordering a kneeling boy (ironically named Christopher–maybe that’s why he got the part), “Rise, Christopher Columbus!”  I gestured upward with my arm copying the high school girl portraying the Angel Gabriel I had seen in the annual community Christmas pageant.  I guess I thought all important people gestured like that–queens, angels, presidents and the like.  Even today when I direct a young child to gesture in the same way, I am reminded of my performance as Queen Isabella. Hopefully, they look better than I did.

It took me years to become proficient (I think it’s the best word to describe my acting) as an actress.  I think I stunk at it pretty badly until I was way up in my twenties.  When I look at myself in photos from a show I always remember what I felt like at the time the photo was taken and for me at least, it doesn’t feel at all the same on the inside as what I am projecting on the outside.

Some readers who have performed will understand me when I say that acting is a gift you give yourself. When an actor “finds the character”, it’s a huge surprise–like receiving a present one didn’t expect. There is something very mystical about acting and lifting my chubby arm to Christopher Columbus that first time in my life as an actress confirmed it. I was totally intrigued and excited. To this day, I still feel the same way. How many times can a person say that about life?

That’s my  beginning acting story.  What is your story?

Three Things A Writer Needs According to Faulkner

Here are three things a writer needs according to Faulkner.

This is a terrific thought and so very true.  Thanks Mr. Faulkner.









When I was sixteen years old, I decided I wanted to put to pen my story of a girl who wants to be a Kabuki actor, but couldn’t because she was female.

For over twenty-five years I never got further than the first chapter of the book which was then titled, Two For the Kabuki for as many years.


Thank goodness I waited to write it.  I need experience both as a human being on this earth and teacher.  Without the experiences, my book would have been very superficial and not what it became.

I used to blame myself for waiting so long to write it.  As if I didn’t write it, someone else might do so first.  Maybe so.


I needed all those years to observe people.  A great place to do so was in my drama classroom. For twenty years, I taught middle school students.  Middle school is the most complex of all the years for a child.  They arrive to you as an eleven year old and leave as nearly a fourteen year old.  Wow.  Think about that!

The middle school years are the ones of the body changing, hormones a moaning, pimples, facial hair, squeaky voices and lack of poise.  Even the greatest athlete of the group can trip over himself on the way to the cafeteria.

I noticed the girl give up their long locks of hair and trying something more daring right around seventh grade.  As if the approaching high school years beckon them to mature in to the young adult they will become.

I listen to people’s conversations a lot, or rather I eaves drop on conversations.  Who needs to write original dialogue? People sometimes express themselves far better than I can.   I keep my ears peaked at all times.


I have quite an imagination.  I’m still afraid of the dark and think strange noises are some alien trying to get me. I won’t put my foot outside the sheets and when I do, it stays on top of the mattress.  No dangling my vulnerable foot over the edge of the bed.

Because of my experience as an actress and director, I rarely have trouble getting the juices to flow once I open the door to them.  Frankly, I have more trouble prioritizing which creative activity I should do first.  I always seem to have several irons in the fire–teacherspayteachers products, this blog, social sites to keep up, a play version of Bumbling Bea and a book or two rolling around in my mind.

I wish I could put one first over the rest, but I simply can’t.

But Mr. Faulkner obviously knows what he’s talking about.  If I could write what he did, maybe I’d be quoted instead of him.

Nah, I doubt it.

Contact me at or or here.  I’d love to here from you.

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The Reason to Value the Broadway Wig Maker

The Undervalued Wig MakEr

Let’s talk about the Broadway wig maker, shall we?

There are some people who work backstage and behind the scenes of a play who are never acknowledged. One is the wig maker. I ran onto this article in NPR’s Kansas website and thought you’d find it interesting, too!

While Broadway Sings Its Praise, The Wigmaker Remains Unsung

Every time you see a Broadway show, chances are a lot of the actors are wearing wigs.
Sunday night at the 68th Annual Tony Awards, Broadway’s highest honors will be presented in a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Awards will go to actors, actresses, set and lighting designers, but not the people who make the wigs the stars wear, even though the wigs are an essential part of theater craft.

Essential, and yet often invisible, says Jason P. Hayes, the wig designer for Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play, Casa Valentina.

Jason Hayes spent almost a week weaving thousands of strands of human hair into this 1960s hairdo for Reed Birney’s character, Charlotte, in Casa Valentina. The wig’s name is, appropriately, “Charlotta.”

“The problem with being a good wig designer is that if you do your job properly, no one knows that any of your work is on the stage,” Hayes says.

“I don’t think people realize that half of the people they’re looking at are wearing a wig,” Hayes says. “And that’s where a lot of that labor and that love and that work goes unnoticed, because if you do it properly, no one knows … that you were ever in the building!”

Wigs play a central role in Casa Valentina. The drama is based on a real Catskills resort in the 1960s that catered to heterosexual cross-dressers. So Hayes had to create wigs that weren’t for drag queens, but for transvestites.

“It’s knowing that difference that’s very important and integral to getting the looks and the characters right for Casa Valentina,” he says.

“It’s understanding they’re not drag queens. The whole point of their feminine persona is that you should never notice them.”

For the character of Charlotte, Hayes created a realistic 1960s hairdo, painstakingly crafted on a base created from a mold of the actor’s head.

“It’s a very fine mesh lace, so imagine a cross between what looks like window screening, but is as fine as panty hose,” he explains. “For lack of a better word, you take one strand of hair and you hand-knot that, on that mesh. So, it’s almost like you’re doing latch hook.”

It took Hayes almost a week to weave the thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig. Actor Reed Birney, who’s nominated for a Tony as Charlotte, says that kind of attention to detail helps him as an actor.

“It really is a crucial aspect of the performance, this wig, especially for me,” Birney says. “Your self-image suddenly changes. I can’t see myself, but I see myself in the mirror and I know I’ve got this honey-colored hair and a big swoop and it really does affect the way you move through space.”

Tony-nominated actress Sarah Greene says the wig she wears in The Cripple of Inishmaan completes her character, a volatile teenager on a remote Irish island in the 1930s. Yet initially the brunette actress resisted.

“When they came with the red wig, I was like ‘Oh no! I want my own hair,’ ” Greene says. “And yet, the minute I put it on, it was just like, ‘Oh no — the bold Helen is here.'”

If an actor is playing multiple characters, a wig can be crucial in helping to define them.

In the Tony-nominated musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, actor Jefferson Mays, who’s also a Tony-nominee, plays eight roles.

For the gender-bending musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, wigmaker Mike Potter made eight wigs and used magnets so actor Neil Patrick Harris can change quickly on stage. Click here:

The styling of the wigs is important, but so is the stuff they’re made of, says Charles LaPointe, who made the hairpieces for the musical. LaPointe, who’s got an impressive Broadway resume, has a studio with 23 employees.

“We build everything [with] human hair,” LaPointe says. And where does he get the hair?
“Well, we have distributors all over the place,” he says. “We get some from London, that’s like fine Caucasian hair; and then we get Indian hair from Bali; and we get Asian hair from the dime store around the corner.”

Perhaps the most outrageous wigs on Broadway right now sit atop Tony-nominee Neil Patrick Harris’ head in the gender-bending musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Mike Potter has designed all eight of Hedwig’s hairpieces — which evoke the likes of Farrah Fawcett and Tina Turner — in pink. For this show, Potter had to come up with a way for Neil Patrick Harris to change his wigs on the fly. So, he used magnets.

“They’re sown on these hat bases, called buckrams, and Neil has to do all of his own quick changes on stage,” Potter says. “And there are magnets built into his main wig, and so when he’s in the dark behind the car, he just pops it on and it’s like, instantly on his head.”

The actor will be showing off those expensively shaped locks on the Tony Awards broadcast Sunday evening. Harris wouldn’t be Hedwig without wigs, Potter says.

“They’re really a huge integral part of the character,” he says. “I mean, ‘wig’ is in her name!”

The Broadway wig maker- so important!