Two most inspiring people I've seen this year

The Two Most Inspiring People I’ve Seen This Year

I’m always inspired by talent, especially young talent.  These are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

You need to know about both of them.

Number One

Image result for Brandon Victor Dixon website

Do know Brandon Victor Dixon?

You don’t?  (That’s okay, I didn’t either.)

He’s the immensely talented gentleman who portrayed Judas in the recent television adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Here he is ;

You are welcome. 

Recently, Brandon was interviewed on Sirrus radio’s Broadway Musical station.  I was lucky enough to hear the interview.

What a professional!

Brandon is a Presidential Scholar Semi-finalist and scholarship winner at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, Brandon is a graduate of Columbia University and a recipient of the University’s I.A.L Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts which is an honor he shares with Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, and Katori Hall (Mountaintop).

Since his professional debut, originating the role of Adult Simba in The Lion King National Tour (Cheetah), Brandon has displayed his diverse abilities in a number of roles. Notably, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as Harpo in Broadway’s The Color Purple, a Grammy for his portrayal of  Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, and he was nominated for Oliviers, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and AUDELCO awards for his outstanding portrayal of Haywood Patterson in Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys.

I know talent folks. Honestly I can nearly smell it upon meeting someone. 

This fellow is tremendously talented and what’s more he’s a good person.

He’s involved in the #Weare campaign, raising funds for the YoungNew Yorker program.

From Brandon’s website :

“All sales from our first release, #WeAre, benefit youngnewyorkers.org, an organization that aims to help rehabilitate juvenile first time offenders in their teens who are sentenced to their ARTS program instead of JAIL.

The #WeAre campaign is a global call to action for all communities to support the recognition of our collective power and repsonsibility. This is the first project on my new platform designed to empower Art, Artists, and their Advocacy through musical collaboration.

As Brandon explained it (I’m paraphrasing here) instead of sending our young people straight to prison for their first offense, perhaps there are better methods of helping them.  To Brandon, and to me, the arts are the way to reach our youth and help them grow into the adults they are meant to be and become contributing members of society.   

I love programs such as these.  They make sense to me.  Everyone needs a second chance, especially a young person.  Instead of filling up yet another prison why not find another way to work with troubled youth?

For more information about Brandon, check out his website at http://brandonvictordixon.com/home

Number Two

Image result for who is mobley the singer

Here’s another young man you may not know, but I think you are going to soon.

His name is Mobley.

Last Friday evening, we went to see a show in Kansas City by our friend, Kelley Wade Hunt and Mobley played first.

Oh my gosh! Wait until you hear him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjD1xH5GyKUhttps://www.mobleywho.com/

Or this one:

https://fanlink.to/MobleyYoungAdultFiction

You have to picture this show.  Our friend, Kelley, is a veteran rhythm and blues singer.  Not surprisingly, many of the attendees are our age too.

However, first Mobley comes on the stage.  His music is not what you’d think some of us “elderstatesmen” would enjoy.  But within a few minutes he had us singing along with him, clapping and having fun!  (You understand Mobley couldn’t be much more than thirty years old?) It was awesome.

Furthermore, Mobley is a one man band.  He plays several instruments, writes music, sings and even created the video in the background.  Very impressive.

Afterwards, we stopped so say hi and compliment him on his music.  My husband is a retired instrumental music teacher who taught music theory for many years.  It was wonderful to watch Mobley and my husband converse about music just like two old friends.

From the Austin Monthly, “Band to Watch” interview:

“Mobley, whose real name is Anthony Watkins II, credits recent news events, particularly the Eric Garner grand jury decision, as the inspiration for deeper, more introspective songwriting. “About halfway through working on the record, the decision came back, and that was just devastating on multiple levels,” he says. “But it brought lots of things into a different focus, and it gave the work a moral center, and everything made sense after that.” That moral center is cleverly encased in layers of bright, thudding electronic flourishes and R&B-style vocals, as evidenced in the single “Swoon.”

His live show has a similar upbeat energy to it. He uses his film degree from the University of North Carolina and day job as a web designer to great effect, incorporating visuals, lighting and videos, in addition to toggling between playing the guitar, keyboard and an Akai drum machine. Being too cool for school onstage isn’t interesting to him. “I find it most compelling when performers seem like they believe what they’re doing and care about me believing what they’re doing,” he says.

See what I mean?   

Like Brandon, Mobley is a terrific fellow, too.

As I have said before, I don’t always blog about drama education, or my book, sometimes I blog about unusual experiences in my life.  Meeting Mobley was one of them.  I suspect you will all see a lot of him very soon.

Watch for Brandon Victor Dixon, too.

I bet you can tell now why these are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com

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Effective Teaching Methods

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part Two

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check out part one, will you?

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/why-you-should-use-these-effective-teaching-methods/

 

Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

I have a second teaching method which works wonders with any aged kid–I guarantee it!

ARTS INTEGRATION

You may wonder what arts integration is specifically.  Simply put, arts integration is a method used to teach the core subjects infusing them with the arts–music, art, dance and theatre.

From http://www.tealarts.org/arts-integration.html

“Arts integration is an approach to learning in which standards based objectives from the visual and performing arts (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts) and one or more other subject areas are aligned, met, and assessed.

Image result for students participating in arts integration

It is important to know that arts integration does not supplant single subject art classes like band, dance, drama or drawing, but instead is used to design robust lessons that engage students in the processes used in the arts, such as creative thinking and active learning.

Done with diligence and purpose, arts integration helps students flourish, deepen their learning, and make meaningful connections between the disciplines. Studies have shown that art experiences result increased academic achievement, self-confidence, motivation, and improved social-emotional connections and behavior.”

Don’t ya love it?

Remember in elementary school when you got to draw a picture about some scene in the book you were reading?  Or write a poem about a moment in history? Yeah, it’s like that.

When I was in my forties, a vocal music teacher friend of mine and I  wanted to pursue a masters in education but not in curriculum and instruction (a masters many educators receive.)  She did some research and ran onto the Lesley College which offered a Masters in Education focused on Creative Arts Learning (aka arts integration.)

This was an off site campus location and the professors came to us once a month for eighteen months while we studied the various elements of the arts and how to integrate them into the classroom.

Image result for art and math

My friend and I were ecstatic about the program! At the first class, we noticed there were several teachers lacking confidence and timid about their creativity. Well, that changed for the better by the end.  They fared as well or better than we did from the learning. Isn’t that great?

As I mentioned in part one I am now teaching college level students.  Since I was getting my feet wet with the material this first year, I hesitated to use arts integration to teach these college kids.  That was a mistake.

This fall, if I end up teaching for the college I will use arts integration right from the beginning.

It’s novel, it’s obviously creating, it’s very engaging and it’s fun.

Here are a few ideas for arts integreation in core subjects.

Students can:

  1.  Write a script depicting a particular time in history and act it out.
  2. Create a monologue of a famous person and perform it during an open house.
  3. Pen a poem about a country they are studying
  4. Draw and illustrate a picture demonstrating how the body works.
  5. Mold something from clay of a certain culture
  6. Create a rap about the U.S.’s fifty states and capitols
  7. Use movement to demonstrate the various types of clouds, how a typhoon is different from a tornado or the tetonic shifts in the ocean.
  8. Make a dance to accompany a piece of music from a time period which was studied.
  9. If you have musicians, ask them to play a piece of music to compliment the learning.  If the students are studying western expansions, a student could play a country western piece for example.
  10. When studying shapes, cut different ones for collages using basic geometry.  This helps teach and reinforce undrstanding of shapes.  Then as a group, incorporate them into a collage on a classroom wall.

As you can tell, the ideas are numerous.

Utilizing the arts in your classroom gives you energy, too.  Because every project will be creative, your intellect will be challenged.  This is essential for the teacher who plans to teach for many years.

Think about it–would it be more exciting to see what your students create and learn about a concept or merely you regurgitating material……for twenty-five years?

So, there you have it!  Try arts integration in your class or email me if you need help, I’m always willing to suggest ideas to interested teachers.  Rememeber, we are all in this together.

If you’d like more advice on teaching, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/the-12-steps-to-becoming-a-fantastic-drama-teacher-in-12-steps/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/05/10/the-lessons-i-learned-from-working-as-a-drama-teacher/

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

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Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part One

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check back for part two, will you?

Map, Learn, School, Courage, Training, Skills, Teaching

Soon it will be the fourth of July.  You know what that means don’t ya?

We are about half way through summer vacation for our overworked, underpaid teachers.

Hopefully, these education warriors are not spending their whole vacation sitting in professional development classes or reading yet another book on whatever trendy subject is being discussed in September at a faculty meeting.

I hope they are sitting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by a stream, listening to the water as it slips over the rocks and cools the air. (This is one of my favorite memories in my life which I draw from time to time.)

Now, I taught drama classes for thirty-eight years.  That, my friend, is a heck of a long time.

The wisdom I am about to impart to you is my personal teaching method which works every.single.time.  I’ll say that again:  every.single.time

Image result for students using multiple intelligences

I believe in using the multiple intelligences…period.

From the American Institute of Learning and Human Development website,

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

              Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

              Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

              Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

              Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

              Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

              Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

              Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

              Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Just like Dr. Gardner, I present my lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more.

Image result for students using multiple intelligences

 

The most important question I know some educators have is whether each intelligence must be addressed with every lesson.  

The answer is a resounding, no!  But I bet if you use several methods over the course of a unit or several lessons, the students will be more engaged than the traditional methods of textbook and worksheets.

Case in point, my Theatre Appreciation class I taught this last semester at Neosho Community College in Ottawa, Kansas.

This was my first time to teach the class and I must say, it was a doozy for me.

Some challenges:

  • only four students (three were seniors in high school and one was twenty-three years old) enrolled
  • since Neosho is a commuter campus, a theater and its many aspects were unavailable to me
  • the class fulfilled a Humanities requirement, so the students didn’t necessarily take the class because they wanted to but needed the hours in order to graduate
  • although I had a teacher’s manual, powerpoint templates and test banks (which didn’t always coincide with the teacher’s manual), the scope of learning was massive!

In short, I created every lesson in the semester with very little help (oh, and forget using another professor’s syllabus supplement to help me, all the professors I found pn line planned it differently.)

At first, I tried the usual I-lecture-you-take-notes format.  Ugh…I’m embarassed to even admit that to you. It was excruciatingly boring for the students and myself.

What did work was assigning vocabulary words from each chapter and requiring the students to create flashcards on Quizlet.com. These vocabulary words spoke to those with Linguistic Intelligence.

I learned the students needed visual examples of the various times periods in theatre history.  That’s where youtube.com came in.  It was great help and the wealth of videos about theatre history, live performances of plays and musicals was extensive. Whew!  Suddenly, the learning came alive.

We attended a live performance of a play produced at the University of Kansas.  At the time, I wasn’t certain they appreciated the production, but later they mentioned the play to me several times.

Spatial Intelligence was addressed and it worked well for all of them.

I knew I could do better by them, but this was my first time teaching the material. I thought I should use a more traditional teaching method since these students came from rural school systems in general.  This might be an exagerration, but I have discovered in the past rural schools are less advanced or innovative. I could tell they were used to books and worksheets, good or not.

So, I did what I knew I should have done from the beginning–I used multiple intelligences.

Nearing the end of the semester, I assigned the students a project on a particular play they read.  Each one had a responsibility to learn about the job of that designer and the responsibilities of them, design either costumes (4 costumes), set (1 set with furniture and curtains, etc.), props (2 props specifically for the play)  or sound for the production (a sound plot and sound bites for several sounds, preshow and post show music.) Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Additionally, they had to work with their peers pulling their ideas together as an artistic team would do for a production. Check off Interpersonal Intelligence!

Lastly, they were to share their learning with us.

They LOVED the assignment.  Please understand these were students who swore to me, “Mrs. Baldwin, I’m not at all creative.  I can’t possibly do this!”  However, by the end of the learning and sharing, they enjoyed it so much they suggested to me that I do more of this next time.

Image result for students using multiple intelligences

Aha! As I mentioned I knew that all ready, but it is always better when your students confirm your opinion.

I am by no means an expert on  teaching through the multiple intelligences, but using this method works for me every time.

It is fun, creative, allows for varied learning styles, skills and provides differentiated instruction.  You can’t beat that, can you?

What are your favorite teaching methods?  As a drama teacher, I model my expected outcome on a daily basis it seems.  Have you ever modeled for your students?  How did it go?

I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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girl holding crystal ball

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

 

fortune teller's guide

Here it is—the unofficial fortune teller’s guide to becoing a fantastic teacher in 12 steps. Although, I speak specifically about teaching drama, this post will relate to any teacher.

rubistar.4teachers.org

If you don’t know about rubistar.4teachers.org you need to!  (This is a side note for you. It isn’t really a step, but do check them out for quick, efficient, comprehensive rubric templates.) rubistar.4teachers.org

People don’t ask me for the guide to becoming a fantastic drama teacher.

They never directly ask me. They ask around the question.  I think they are afraid of what I might say.  Teehee….I’m known for being honest.

So they say, “I was thinking I would like to do something in life that uses my love for theatre.” Or “I don’t think I would make it on Broadway, but I’d still like to be involved in theatre and make a living from it.”

They look at me with a smile hopeful for the answer they desire.

No pressure there….

I’m not a fortune teller, although one time for a radio commercial,  I portrayed the fortune teller, Madame Zula, a  wacky woman who extolled important facts about crop fertilizer. (My producer won a regional award for it, BTW.)

You’re laughing, I know.

fortune teller's guide

Although I might think you have the talent to succeed on Broadway, that isn’t something I can promise or even prophesy. Nor can I project whether you’ll be successful as a teacher.

There are many factors which create your success in the field of professional theatre, many of which you and I have no control. Any worthwhile pursuit has the same challenges.

If you listen to many successful performers, they will tell you that some of it is a.being at the right place at the right time b. fortitude in the face of many rejections c. a willingness to do anything and everything to make it happen and maybe d. talent.

Technical theatre artists will share the same experiences with you.  They worked at it.  They created a resume.  They worked for little pay and so on.

Here’s a secret:  If someone tells you it was easy to become wildly successful in a certain profession, (doctor, lawyer, counselor, nurse, banker, actor or teacher) they are lying. 

fortune teller's guide

As your unofficial fortune teller, here is a guide with twelve steps which will help you become a successful drama teacher over time:

1. Attend a college or university with a strong theatre AND education program and enroll for classes in both.  If you desire to teach in a traditional school setting, you’ll need your state teachers license.  Just like many other professions, teachers must study certain pedagogy from basic theory of education classes to student teaching.

The same will be expected of you if you want to receive a theatre degree.  Study as many facets of theatre as you can then you are an easy hire for someone.  If you only focus on technical theatre or performing, you are less likely to be hired in a school or maybe a theatre company.  You want to be versatile.

2. Participate in professional organizations in theatre, drama education and general education.  You need to be versed in the latest trends in all areas.

3. Participate in your school’s productions.  This is such a duh.  Some schools require backstage hours for their performing majors.  My college did, Stephens college, and I am forever grateful to them for this.  I learned heaps.  Some thirty-eight years later, I still use the lessons I learned in my college classes when I teach or direct.

An employer wants to hire someone who is very knowledgeable, not someone who spent all his or her time socializing rather than broadening their horizons.

fortune teller's guide

4. Get involved in a community theatre.  They will welcome you with open arms, because they need volunteers to support their productions– running lights, designing costumes, acting or serving on staff as a stage manager or even a director. Accept the job even if you are not offered a stipend.  Think of the work like interning.

Build your resume with various experiences.

5.  Volunteer your time to a school mentoring students through an after school program or an organization such as Scouts or 4H.  This gives you insight about how best to work with students.  It also helps you become accustomed to their latest social behaviors and slang.  This is invaluable experience.  I can’t stress this enough.

If you can, volunteer for different organizations with a diverse community.  Our classrooms are multicultural.  There is an art to teaching students simultaneously from all walks of life.  If you have never helped a disadvantaged student or an immigrant, you’ll have a  bigger learning curve to overcome.  Their lives are very different from yours and it’s your job to figure out how to support them.

6.  The best teachers are passionate about their subject matter and sincerely interested in bettering the world through teaching young people. So be that!  Please do not become a teacher because you didn’t know what else to do with your degree (or you thought you’d have your summers off-hahahaha!).  There is nothing worse than a bitter teacher. You know the kind who mumble how she wishes she had been a professional actor and are stupidly arrogant? Yeah, we won’t need that kind of person in our classrooms.

Trust me, teaching is difficult enough on its own.  Compounding your classroom challenges with apathy is a crime in my book.

7.  Teaching is rigorous work.  It is very tiring and all consuming.  Unless you’ve had previous experience teaching twenty bursts of energy and emotion all at once, you’ll never understand it. You gotta get in there and try it–at least for three years.     Like those professional actors that you can’t tell are acting, good teachers make it seem easy to do.  It. is. not.

fortune teller's guide

8.  Once employed, although you may think your career has finally begun your education has not ended.  Now, you’ll learn about the inner workings of your school, bureaucracy, policies, regulations, etc.  You’ll  practice becoming more organized, keep yourself healthy,  juggle your professional and personal time, become a shoulder for others to cry on, learn to listen to your superiors and to a student who has lamented continuously for several months to you about their life.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the deal.

9.  You want to be good at teaching?  Buy clothes in your school colors.  Wear them. Buy the school spirit wear.  If your cast buys cast tee shirts, you do so, too.

10.  Attend other school sponsored activities–football games, fundraisers, band concerts and TGIF’s for staff.

11.  Help other teachers and staff members.  Take their lunch shift if you observe a teacher who needs a break.  Take out your own trash for your janitor once in a while and THANK THEM for their work to keep your room tidy.  Get to know your school head secretary.  They can make or break you.  Trust me, if there is anyone who knows the school’s scuttle butt, it’s the head secretary.

12.  Finally, be the teacher you wanted when you were a student.  I liked my teachers who were organized, funny, clever, innovative, challenging, held high expectations and sincere.  Guess what?  I’ve become that teacher, too.

If you look at your life as a journey, you’ll appreciate and accept that any journey takes a long time to prepare, depart, travel and arrive at your destination. Teaching is much the same way.

fortune teller's guide

I promise you, it can be a wonderful journey.

Bon voyage!

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

Following me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DeborahHBaldwin

on Facebook at BumblingBea

 

 

Are You Missing These Kind of People in Your Life?

Are you missing these people in your life?  What is special about community theatre actors?

Image result for columbia entertainment company

That’s my student portraying Mary Poppins!

This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  I have a very long relationship with community theatre.  I helped to create one in Columbia, Missouri back in 1979 I believe.  It is still in existence today.

In fact, I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays while being involved with  Columbia Entertainment Company.  You can find more information about the contest at:  Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

But I digress…

Sometimes, although less now than in the past, people who aren’t involved in community theatre have sort of scoffed at it.  As though the people who enjoyed it were dopey or something.

It is no different than playing on a adult intramural soccer team or bowling with your league buddies.  My community theatre friends just enjoy performing on a stage under stage lights.  (It’s the next closest thing to playing dress up and make believe and didn’t we all enjoy that when we were kids?)

summer theater 1

Community theatre actors come from all walks of life. Many simply love theatre, but chose to have another vocation other than performing.

I direct many doctors, lawyers, teachers, fireman, policeman, nurses, college students, business people,  and whole families from the youngest only six years old to the eldest in their eighties.  I  work with people from television shows I watched several decades ago.

I have a varied acting resume as well. Through community theatre, I’ve been directed by a Yale graduate, a Broadway professional, a high school drama director and even a priest!

Image result for community theatre actors in dressing room

What is special about community theatre actors (and let’s not forget all the technical people either,) is the comradery one feels when you work with them.  There is simply no other group of people quite so warm and supportive.

Think about it.  These people put in an eight hour day at their jobs, rush home to eat a bit of dinner and head out to the theatre in under an hour.

It can be grueling and…it can be boring but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun! Many times they rehearse for three hours with no breaks. Or they sit around for an hour and chat with their cast members while they wait to rehearse.  It’s all part of the experience.  (Note:  Professional theater can look the same.)

They memorize their lines while driving in their cars, during lunch breaks or watching their child’s soccer games. I am sure there were times where my husband and/or daughters knew my lines as well as I did from quizzing me on them.

Usually, community theatre actors bring in their own personal items to fill out their costume.  It is not uncommon for them to purchase several pairs of dance shoes, tights, leotards, wigs or purchase contact eye wear since they can’t wear their modern glasses in a play set in the 1800s.

But the costumes can be outstanding and exciting to wear.  These aren’t generic Halloween costumes or something dragged out of an attic.  I’ve had costumes custom made especially for me.  Here is one from Cricket on the Hearth:

cricket on the hearth (2)
Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth” a straight role

The men are known to grow mustaches or beards if need be.  Or the opposite.  They’ll cut off their long hair or shave off their beards if it gives them a look of  authenticity. Women have dyed their hair for a role as well.

If the show is a musical, the musicians bring in their own instruments, music stands and whole drum sets. I know some musicians accompany for little to no stipend.  That’s okay with them. They enjoy the experience just as much as the cast.

Building the deck: Anna Townswick, Indigo Fish, Jesse Fish on top of the structure. (Photo: Mette Hammer)

You want to talk about a time commitment?

Usually the rehearsal schedule is four or five evenings straight for about six weeks and then the run of the show.  A spouse might not see their partner for weeks on end. (If the spouse is smart, they’ll get involved in some capacity and now the couple with something new to talk about!)

Sometimes the actor will help build or paint the set, create props or sew a costume or two on the weekends. And….when the show is over, they help strike the set!

They throw the BEST cast parties too.  Check out one my favorite cast party recipes here:

Easy Peasy Party Appetizer #1

Easy Peasy Party Appetizer #2

Easy Peasy Appetizer Recipe #3

They hand out gag gifts, act in funny parodies of songs from the show or sit around singing songs from the show yet. another. time.

They can go overboard a little, but that’s because the experience is very intense.  I’ve even been known to have separation anxiety from my cast members and that’s the worst feeling of all.

Image result for community theatre cast party

But they persevere and sign up for the next audition or merely serve as ushers, but generally they continue to be involved in some capacity.

In other words, they are completely invested in the production!

So the next time, you see your neighbor dash off to rehearsal and he doesn’t have time to chat, just remember he isn’t sitting around home in front of the television or on his phone. He could be sitting around wasting his time, but he’s not.

He is doing theatre and he loves it!

Sound like fun to you?  Try it.

The American Association of Community Theaters is a not for profit organization which can give you more information about community theatre and a whole hosts of subjects you might be interested in.  Check them out here:  https://www.aact.org

What community theatre productions have you been involved in?  Tell me about it.  I’d love to hear from you.

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

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Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

Summer is here which means, at least this summer, I am busy creating products for my Teacherspayteachers.com store. You can find my products at: Teacherspayteachersstore

I am now selling my lesson plans and units on Teacherspayteachers.com.  This has been a goal of mine for several years. I kept procrastinating because I figured no one would be interested in my products in drama education.

Nay nay, I say….(I heard a comic say that once and it cracked me up!)

So far, I have available eight products to purchase for grades second through ninth. This last one, Sedna, an Innuit Tale is probably one of the most involved.

I adapted multicultural stories when I taught in a middle school for twelve years. There was simply very little material for class plays and that is what I needed. Desperation is the mother of invention.

Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale is a fifteen minute play suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. A drama class, reading group, Social Studies will find this very useful.

My husband, a retired instrumental music teacher with lots of composing experience, created a song remniscent of the Inuit culture’s music.This will be a terrific co-teaching experience, too! I can see a drama teacher and vocal music teacher working in tandem on the piece. Such a great opportunity for learning. You know?

Included in the product is:

  • warm up
  • procedure or rehearsal schedule
  • six page script
  • stage properties list
  • sound effects list
  • original song reminiscent of the Innuit culture
  • recording of the melody with the accompaniament
  • source list with suggestions for masks and dances,
  •  properties list

The Sedna story is very dramatic and exciting.

Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea. According to most versions of the legend Sedna was once a beautiful mortal woman who became the ruler of Adlivun (the Inuit underworld at the bottom of the sea) after her father threw her out of his kayak into the ocean. Sedna’s fingers, which her father had to cut off to keep her from clinging to the side of the boat, are often said to have turned into the first sea mammals.

The other details of Sedna’s story are told differently in different Inuit/Eskimo communities– sometimes she provoked her father’s rage by attacking him or violating cultural taboos, while other times her father was selfishly trying to save his own life by sacrificing Sedna.

Of course, my version of Sedna isn’t quite so gruesome, but creation myths can be very dramatic and Sedna follows suit with other mythological fables.

If you are interested in purchasing Sedna, check her out at:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SEDNA-AN-INNUIT-TALE-A-FIFTEEN-MINUTE-PLAY-3828901?aref=42bwyx2n

If you are interested in other products of mine, click here to see a few:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/COSTUME-DESIGN-WITH-CIRCUS-PERFORMERS-3799450

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/OJI-SAN-AND-THE-GRATEFUL-STATUES-TEN-MINUTE-PLAY-WITH-MUSIC-3592728

Do you need a story dramatized but don’t have the time to do it yourself?  No problem.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com and we’ll talk!  I’d love to help you.

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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!

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/05/05/three-times-a-charm-an-author-interview/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/01/20/authorblogspot-another-author-interview-of-me/

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: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/04/06/10788/ 

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.

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/10/05/exclusive-interview-of-my-main-character/

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: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/10/25/ten-years-later-a-chat-with-beatrice/

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.

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

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”

"There are no small 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.” Here’s my take on it.

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, 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 in a character.  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

Shrek

Straight roles:

Cinderella

Rapunzel

Dorothy

Fiona

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: https://wordpress.com/post/dramamommaspeaks.com/389 

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

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

I’d love to hear from you!

 

This is Why Public Education is Important

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

There is only one defense of it which truly matters. Read on.

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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 gain 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 and my father served in WWII.

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.

esl-drama-club-pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

What are you experiences in learning in a public school?  How about a private school?  Are they different from mine? I’ve love to hear from you.

If you’d like to see my teaching resume, go to: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/resume/ 

Playwriting Contest

Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

This is my most recent article I penned for Litpick. I hope it’s helpful to you.


Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

by Deborah Baldwin

Twenty-nine years ago, I was president of a community theatre, the Columbia Entertainment Company, in Columbia, Missouri. Also, I was the director of a youth theatre program for them. I volunteered hundreds of hours to both programs. It was an amazing learning experience and one that I draw upon from time to time in my career.

Here is the story of probably the most important thing we did in this company: We created a national play-writing contest for large cast youth theatre plays. It is called the Jackie White National Play-writing Award Contest and is still in existence to this day. That’s a long time for a contest of this nature to flourish, especially sponsored by a community theatre.

The Origin

Thirty years ago I was a young woman who needed scripts for large casts—over thirty students in number, ages fourth through ninth grade. At the time, there were very few plays to choose from, much less musicals for kids. I lamented to a board that I was having a difficult time finding any suitable plays for the season. In the past, I pad the roles with extra non-speaking characters or ones with little ad libs, but what I really needed was youth theatre plays with large casts, period. The board member suggested our company create our own playwriting contest specifically for this purpose. So, really out of desperation, we did!

Please understand, we had NO idea what we were doing. We merely figured it out as we progressed. It took us a few years to perfect the contest, but it is still one of the most valuable programs the theatre created.

honk-jr

The Why

Generally, playwrights need their plays or musicals to be produced before a publishing company will represent them. The Denver Performing Arts Center sponsors a New Play Summit each year in February. Their contest is very clever. The first time the winning entries are produced as stage readings with minimal set and costumes. The audience gives feedback after the performance through a survey. If the play suits DPAC’s needs, during the next season, they mount a full production of it.

My husband and I have attended several years of the New Play Summit and enjoyed being part of the creative process. We feel more invested in the play, because we offered our suggestions. Whether DPAC intends to or not, this is a terrific way to encourage audience members to return to see the production once it is produced.

Your contest could be created by your drama class, community theatre or even youth group. There is no end to the possibilities a contest of this type affords a group. The contest can be as big or small as your group desires. You could sponsor whatever kind of contest you want—ten minute plays, musicals for youth theatre, plays focused on bullying or plays concerning tolerance. It’s all up to you.

Now before you look at these questions and think is an overwhelming project, I want you to consider the people who will receive such fulfillment from the contest. Playwrights are always seeking places to get their plays read and produced. That could be you!

studenst-reading-play

Here are some questions to contemplate when creating your own playwriting contest:

1) What is the mission of our contest? What is our end result? Are we looking for a particular subject to be explored? Reach a particular audience? Attract an underserved demographic?

2) What are the requirements of the winning script? Cast size, gender and age of characters, length of play or musical, set, costumes props and the feasibility of producing the script within the confines of our budget are all important questions to consider.

3) Is any subject taboo? In some social circles, certain subjects are considered inappropriate.

4) How about inappropriate language?

5) Should we charge a fee to enter the contest? How much?

6) Are there granting agencies or donors we could approach to fund the contest?

7) What is our budget to spend to advertise the contest?

8) What free media sources will we use to publicize the contest?

9) Will we fully mount the winning entry?

10) Should we present a stage reading?

11) Can anyone enter the contest? Are we seeking only student scripts or adults?

12) Who will read the scripts and make the final decision on the awardee?

13) Will we award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards as well as honorable mention? How many honorable mentions?

14) What will the winner receive? A cash award, gift, certificate, lifetime season tickets?

15) Where will the cash award money come from? A donor? A service organization? Your city’s arts council?

16) After the awardee is selected, will we publicize the winner?

17) Do we want to bring the winning playwright to the performance?

18) If the winning playwright attends, is it our responsibility to provide room and board to them?

19) If the playwright is present, do we want to host a social in their honor?

20) What is our time line?

I hope these twenty questions will help you create your playwriting contest.  Do keep me informed.  I’d love to hear from you.

wishing-shelf

A Contest with Their Head in the Right Place

I am an indie author, too. Recently, I ran upon an indie author book contest in England created by a popular children’s author, Edward Trayer. The Whistling Shelf Award is a fairly new contest. When I was perusing his website regarding it, I discovered he charges an entrance fee and donates a portion of money to the Blind Children fund in England. Now, that’s my kind of author. Because of this, I quickly entered my book, Bumbling Bea, into its competition. I look forward to this year’s awards.

Since the penning of this post, I received word I was a finalist in the children’s books division in the Wishing Shelf contest.  What an honor!

I believe in philanthropy and I believe in the power of theatre. I bet you do, too.
Try your hand creating a playwriting contest. The Jackie White National Children’s Play Writing Contest is one of the most important programs the Columbia Entertainment Company ever created. If a desperate, young director like me with no experience creating a contest can be successful, so can you!
Columbia Entertainment Company playwriting contest:

http://www.cectheatre.org/playwriting.html

Denver Performing Arts Center New Play Summit:

http://www.denvercenter.org/events/colorado-new-play-summit
Wishing Shelf Book Awards
http://www.thewsa.co.uk/

—————

Deborah is a veteran drama teacher having taught in Missouri and Colorado for nearly thirty-eight years. Specializing in youth and community theatre, Deborah has directed more than 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike. Recently, she and her husband moved to Kansas to be near their family and first grandchild. Her award winning middle grade book, Bumbling Bea, can be purchased through Amazon.com.

Check out her blog at: Dramamommaspeaks.com or her website Deborahbaldwin.net. Deborah serves as handmaiden to her beloved cat and sings harmony to most any song she hears.