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.

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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?

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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 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 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?  

Super Charge Your Classroom Warm Up Exercise

Are you looking an exercise to super charge your classroom?  A  FREE product to try with your classroom from a veteran teacher? Something fun but useful to teach with these weeks right before a holiday break?

Super Hero Cover 6 Ad

Simply put, this warm up exercise is loads of fun because YOU are the hero!  Students love creating the story around you.

Your materials list is easy:  a box of photographs of all kinds and a copy of a postcard story of your own or another student group from another time. In the lesson, I  have included a copy of one my students’ stories just to give you an idea of what to expect.

Sometimes my students dramatize their story (it’s always very short) or merely share the story with the class. When they dramatize their story, I ask them to use chanting (repeated words or phrases for an effect), a sound effect or two and some movement.  They even create a title for their story. My students LOVE this exercise!

I’d love to hear how this exercise works for you.

If you enjoy this one, please check out my store at  I’m always adding new products.  Maybe something else will help you.

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The Impact of Youth Theatre on the World


You know I am all about this. Theatre has saved many a child, including me. I have never known it not to impact someone’s life.

I am hoping this post will be helpful to parents.

Read this post if you’d like to know about my journey.

Those of us who work in youth theatre can give you countless reasons why your child should be involved in theatre.

Read this post from a article I penned for them.

How Theater for Young People Could Save the World

By Loren Gunderson of the Huffington Post

Theatre for Children

March 20th is World Theater for Children and Young People Day.

Some of you might be thinking, “Oh lord, why do we need a day to

celebrate actors being silly, wearing bright colors and singing obnoxiously

at squirming kiddos and bored parents?”

But if you think that’s what Theatre for Young People is,

you’re missing out on truly powerful, hilarious, bold, engaging,

surprising theater that might just save the world.

Around the world artists are creating a new stripe of

Theatre for Young People that combines the elegance of dance,

the innovation of devised theater, the freshness of new plays,

the magnetism of puppetry and the inciting energy of new


Theatre for Youth

Kids have access to more and more mature theatrical

visions premiering from Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center

to Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre to San Francisco’s

Handful Players to Ireland to Adelaide to Kosovo to Cape

These plays range from re-imagined fairy tales and adaptations

of favorite books to brand-new plays and electric new musicals

about everything from physics to bullying to the American Civil War.

But how could theater, especially theater for young people,

really matter in a world as fraught and disparity-scattered as ours?

Not to sound overly grand (too late), but so much of the toxicity

in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy.

We don’t understand each other, and we don’t want to.

But theater invites us — no, forces us — to empathize.

As my friend Bill English of San Francisco’s SF Playhouse says,

theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up

the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding

and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves.

We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from

other people’s actions. We practice caring.

Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do.

This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply

that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax

challenges us to actively and specifically teach

children (and vote for presidents with) empathy.

Why not take your child to the theater to do just that.

In fact “Take A Child to the Theatre Today” is the campaign theme

of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences

for the next three years.

If you take a child to the theater, not only will they practice empathy,

they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science,

or want to know more about history, or tell you what happened at

school today, or spend all dinner discussing music, or learn how to

handle conflict, or start becoming future patrons of the arts.

On March 20th, take a child to the theater. Take them all the time.

And don’t “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Lean forward, engage

and start changing the world for the better.

Theatre for Children– a great place to live.

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Sure Fire Formula that Works with Classroom Assignments”

speech making.jpg

If you are a teacher like me, sometimes you need a little help but don’t know where to find it. I’m just like anyone else–occasionally, I need a surefire formula, a fast, time tested answer to my teaching needs.

Open the door to

Maybe this will help you…

Click here for a FREE copy. Informative Speech Rubric

speech making

This rubric includes elements such as voice, posture, eye contact, introduction, body, conclusion, bibliography, outline, notecards, self evaluation of peers, etc.

So back to….. is a website for anyone teaching who needs

a particular rubric, or grade sheet.

There are terrific templates for just about any assignment you are grading. You can find rubrics for subjects under the heading of oral projects, making products, multi media, science, work skills, math, art and music just to name a few.

And you can custom  create one to your particular needs.

Another terrific feature:  Teachers have made their rubrics

available to you for your use, too! 

I put one together last week using the oral presentation template for a persuasive speech for a college level Fundamentals in Speech class I am teaching this semester.

Check back here often because I have a few other FREE rubrics for your use.  

I always appreciate when other teachers help me.  So, I’m paying it forward here.  Hope it helps!

speech making

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drama teacher

The A-List Way to Becoming a Fabulous Teacher


New teachers wonder what are the secrets to becoming an A-List teacher. is a website where a teacher can create any kind

of rubric she may need. It has been great help to me over the years.

This year, I am teaching a Fundamentals of Speech class for

a community college. I realized I have several rubrics for speech presentations which might come in handy for some of you.

My students presented wedding toasts, graduation,

employee of the year (the award went to me!), anniversary celebration toasts,

and a host of other types.

I hope this helps you.

Check it out:  Group Presentation Speech Rubric – Excel

This rubric includes all the elements that one would need to look for in an exemplary speech–voice, tone, eye contact, time, introduction, body, conclusion, bibliography, notecards, outline, peer evaluation, etc.

This lesson took the students about two weeks to prepare meeting twice a week.

Since this a commuter college, we had to make time in the computer lab for them to research while working together.  This gave me an opportunity to observe their behavior with other group members.

Try out my rubric and do get back to me with your results.

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