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?

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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!

 

Two actors in The Fanstaicks

How Theatre Saved My Life

dramamommaspeaks.com

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 was born and raised in Kansas in a small town.  Our only claim to fame is we had two colleges, one university which was a teacher’s college and another one a religious affiliated.  Oh, an an enormous beef packing plant which made our town smell…..unusual. Ugh!

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 dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net.

I’d love to hear from you!

Never Whistle in a Theater

Don’t Ever Whistle in a Theater. Here’s Why

Don’t ever whistle in the theater.

We theatre people are a superstitious bunch.  I am.  I can scare myself merely walking to the bathroom in the dark at my own home.  (Ridiculous, I know.)

It only makes sense if you think about it– we have HUGE imaginations if we are any good at all on the stage.   There are certain things we simply do not do or say…

Never Whistle in a Theater

1. Never Whistle on Stage:

I was chastised once for whistling on stage.  (I whistle if I can’t sing at the moment.)  The history of this superstition was news to me.  Many years ago, stagehands were out of work sailors. Ships used ropes.  Theaters used a similar amount of ropes. Set pieces and people were raised and lowered in by rope, sand bags and fly systems.

Have you ever worked the rigging system of a theater?  It’s tremendous, especially counter weight systems which are still pretty common.

Whistling was used to cue other men backstage to raise or lower ropes. So if you were onstage and whistled you might face a sand bag to the face. Luckily, we now have headsets.

2. Break a Leg


We never wish each other good luck. Instead we say, “Break a leg”. What? I knew it was of historical significance, but apparently there are several possible origins. One thought is it came from ancient Greek Theatre when audience members stomped a foot to show appreciation of a strong performance. (Must have been pretty dusty.)  During  the times of Vaudeville theatre, actors wished each other “Break a leg”, because if they made it on the stage past the curtain legs, they expected to be paid. We aren’t certain where this superstition originated, but we continue to wish each other a break of the leg.

ballet dancers

3. Bad Dress Rehearsal Equals Good Opening Night

As a director and actress, I’ve experienced many a bad dress rehearsal.  If you’ve been involved in any amount of productions you will, too.  A bad final dress rehearsal is sign for a good opening performance. A good director paces the production to hit their peak at opening night.  Everyone knows this.

It could be nerves of the cast and crew’s impending performance which makes for shaky dress rehearsals. They know what’s coming.  I know one director who has no dress rehearsal and takes the night  off right before the show opens. (He merely has it a day earlier.) Yikes!

His thought is performers are much like racing horses at the gates.  With a night off prior to the opening night, it allows everyone to rest up, cogitate on their personal notes from the director and simply focus.

Maybe he’s hoping to ward off a bad dress rehearsal.  Frankly, I’m all about sleep. I would rather have a longer dress rehearsal on a Tuesday night and a shorter one on Wednesday night so everyone can get some rest before a show opens on a Thursday night, than to stress out everyone with a extended dress rehearsal on a Wednesday.

 


4. Flowers Gifts:

It is expected for performers to be given flowers especially on opening night.   Once this honor was given only on directors and leading performers, but it is common practice nowadays to show support and appreciation from family, friends, and fans.

So when is this bad? It is believed that receiving flowers before a show is as equally bad luck as saying break a leg. I never knew this!

I never allow my cast members to accept flowers on stage at the end of a curtain call.  Tacky, tacky.   Many years ago, we didn’t have florist shops.  So, in order to obtain flowers nice enough for a gift and for a cheap price, people stole from graveyards.

The superstition comes in when you give performers flowers that are associated with death before a show closes that you were bringing about the death of a show. Flowers were given after the show closed to symbolize the death, or end, of a production.

5. The Ghost Light

Let’s face it– a dark theater is a scary and treacherous place. There are lots of things to trip over, bump into, fall into an orchestra pit or damage set pieces easily.  Most of the time the light switches for the backstage, or work lights is difficult to find even when other lights are lit.

While it might fend of pesky ghosts from playing tricks on shows, it also helps protect the unlucky few who are rummaging through the dark.

In an Equity theatre, the ghost light was the physical alert that you are no longer on the job. When a stage manager puts out the ghost light, he is signaling rehearsal or the performance is over for the evening and consequently no one will be paid after this moment.

shakespeare

6. The Scottish Play

The last superstition is a wild one. What is the “The Scottish Play” you ask?  It’s William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Many of us believe mentioning this name or even quoting lines from this show will bring disaster upon ourselves and our production.

History abounds for this superstition.  For instance, several famous actors (Charlton Hester and Constantine Stanislavski) suffered catastrophes during or after a production of Macbeth. That’s a new one for me.

Also, it is said that Abe Lincoln read this play the night before his assassination.

Today, people associate its utterance to technical things going awry, actors forgetting lines, props and costumes mysteriously vanish, a freak storm closes the theatre, and a bunch of other freaky weird things.

If you want to rid yourself of the curse, you must turn around eleven times and ask for forgiveness of Dionysis, the god of theater.  This sounds ridiculous, but I don’t want to take the chance that it could be true.

So, here’s my question:  What happens when one is performing Macbeth or directing it?  You have to recite the lines then.  Maybe it only works if you aren’t performing it?

Whatever.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking any chances…

Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me.

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

I’d love to hear from you!

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Full Circle Moments

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One

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I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment. I should call it a full circle moments, because I’ have experienced several in my life. 

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full circle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy ones, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them– they are magical and surprising.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million chances of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city one hundred miles away. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.

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This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher when I student taught, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theater programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.

Bumbling Bea

Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with very successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student, now a grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be performing a stand up routine, selling and autographing his book, too.

His routine includes memories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.   He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at cectheatre.org

In some respects, full circle moments are snippets of time in our lives. 

They prove, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not. Could I have foreseen this upcoming moment? Never.

What full circle moments have you experienced?

Read part two of this full circle moment here: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/28/what-no-one-tells-you-about-full-circle-moments-part-two/

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on Amazon.com

See you soon!

full circle moments

I’d love to hear about your full circle moments.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

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Announcing: Bumbling Bea The Play –Act one, Scene one

Here is the play adaptation of my book, Bumbling Bea.

I’m one of those people who do what they say they are gonna do.

Gulp!

I am adapting Bumbling Bea into a play!  (I feel we need trumpets blaring and hi-steppers stepping….This is HUGE people.  )

marching band

Now you would think this would be an easy feat for me considering how many years I have directed plays.

 Nay, nay I say. ( I heard this on the radio one day and it cracked me up.)

I’m stalling, I know.

Directing plays since the dawn of man does make my job easier.  It’s a laborious process, however.  It takes me about two hours to adapt four to eight pages of the book version. Then I poop out.

Note:  This is the first draft of the scene.  I haven’t given you a cast list, or description of the set.  For those of you who are familiar with the book version, I think you’ll be able to easily follow the play.  At least, that’s my hope.

BB the play

 PLEASE BE KIND.

Here it is the play adaptation of Bumbling Bea:

 Act one, Scene one.  Enjoy!

Bumbling Bea Act One Scene 1B

Note #2:  I’m seeking beta readers for the play.  Would you be interested in helping?  Just think–someday when it is published you can say you helped make it into the terrific play it is destined to be.

I’m a fan of the play version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Bumbling Bea the play is loosely patterned at it.

Also, this is family fair.  I expect to see youth theater and community theaters producing it.

I honestly think Bumbling Bea will have much success in play form.

Daring words coming from the cautious me.

Are you looking for a new play to workshop?  I’m very interested in working with a drama class or youth theatre program and crafting Bumbling Bea, the play.

I have experience in working with new plays.  About twenty-nine years ago, I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays.

I know what is needed and I know how to make it happen.

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

Information on this website may be copied for personal use only.  No part of this website may be reproduced, stored, or transmissed in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copy right Act, without the prior written permission of the author.  Requests to the author and publisher for permission should be addressed to the following email:  dhcbaldwin@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Gift Guide for Your Favorite Theatre Geek

graduate bear

Wow, it’s April all ready!

It seems like once we pass Valentine’s day time moves a lot faster.

Today, I noticed graduation cards at my local pharmacy.  I always forget graduation is in mid-May.

The high school students in my college classes are quick to share the number of classes  they have before they are finished.  Funny, the other students don’t want to know how much time is left in the semester–they are panicked about finishing all their assignments in time.

Anyway…………..

Each year near graudation, people ask me for suggestions of a good gift for a theatre lover. 

Here are a few suggestions for you:

      1. Tickets to a Broadway play, musical or to attend a touring company production of the graduate’s favorite show.  Most of our students are on tight budgets and having free tickets to see a show would be heaven for them.

     2.  DVD’s of plays or musicals

     3.  A year long membership to BroadwayHD.com. Do you know of this company? They are gaining popularity with their Netflix-like approach to Broadway plays and musicals. These are live performance which have been video recorded by professionals. They are awesome!

     4.  A biography on your graduate’s favorite actor or actress. Just about every actor and actress a student would be familiar with will have a biography.

     5.  Find out your graduate’s taste in stage makeup and purchase some for them in their particular shades or colors.

     6.  Make up a basket, a “care package” for the graduate to use the next next time she is in a show.  Fill it with things like cough drops, deodorant, makeup wipes, a box of tissues, hard candy, throat spray, bandaids, a can of hairspray, a water bottle, a trade magazine (like Stagelight magazine https://www.stagelightmagazine.com) a pen and journal, etc.

      7.  Have a tee shirt quilt made. You can find companies who will create it for you by checking on line.  Most theatre kids have scads of show tee shirts.  I had a friend of mine make a quilt for my daughter.  She LOVED it!  She dragged it off to college and it finally wore about five years ago (she’s twenty-nine.)

     8. A gift card to a particular dance supply company if your graduate is a dancer or Sheetmusic.com so they can purchase sheet music for auditions.

     9. A glitzy picture frame is fun. Obviously, theatre geeks have lots of photos.

    10. Just a plain old VISA gift card is nice, too!

One of my favorite high school graduation gifts was an umbrella.  It was a great gift.  It never occurred to me I would be walking to class in the rain. Ha! (naive me)  I can’t even tell you how many times that wonderful umbrella came into use.  I think I wore it out!

graduate bear

Do you have favorite graduation gift memories?  I’d love to hear them.  Contact me here or at dhcbaldwin@gmail. com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Arts Education

Arts Education: Fostering Creativity and Innovation

I’m all about any research or editorials supporting arts education fostering creativity and innovation whether it’s in the United States or elsewhere.  I ran upon this piece on Stemeducation.news:

Read on…

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Arts education is vital to help foster creativity and innovation

By Susan Davis

I have a dream that this nation will achieve its full creative and economic potential and that Arts education will rightfully be seen as central to making this happen. It worries me that current thinking and policymaking around national innovation concentrates on increasing participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects while the teaching of the Arts (dance, drama, music, media arts and visual arts,) is rarely even on the innovation agenda.

It is not that I begrudge the attention STEM is getting, it is just that I believe if we want to be a truly innovative and creative nation we need to put the Arts, very firmly, back in the mix. We should be talking about STEAM in schools and universities with the Arts very much in the centre of it all.

There exists a popular narrative, used to drive the STEM education agenda in Australia (and elsewhere), that says there are significantly declining enrolments in the Sciences and other STEM disciplines. However I question this narrative as justification for major initiatives. I will come back to that later.

First up what are we talking about, when we talk about innovation and creativity?

Innovation and creativity

Creativity and innovation involves putting things together in new ways, it involves risk-taking, experimenting and refining, valuing the role of productive failure, it involves making and doing, and is often collaborative and co-creative. While creativity is about the capacity to putting things together in new, novel and different ways, innovation is often seen as putting them to work and out into the world so that they meet a need, want or interest.

However these capacities don’t get switched on when people hit the world of work, they need to be cultivated across the education lifespan in all subjects in as many ways as possible.

Unfortunately the nurturing of creativity and innovation often seems to be at odds with the direction of many current initiatives in education. I have concerns about mandated curriculum and standards and everyone doing the same thing, the same tests, meeting the same benchmarks. I am particularly concerned about certain subjects or areas of learning being valued as more essential or more important than others.

Why the Arts subjects are important when it comes to innovation and creativity

The focus on STEM, without similar focus being turned to the Arts and Humanities does not appear to be justified by recent research about the impact of technologies on our lives. It is hard to deny that all aspects of life and the world of work are undergoing rapid transformations, many brought about by developments in technologies across nearly all fields of endeavour. Recent research from Oxford University notes however, that while robots will assume the role of many people in many sectors, growth continues in those that rely on creative capacity and social interactions, people, services and experiences. They are not optional areas of focus for education, but essential for opening up future study and work opportunities.

The importance of valuing other areas of learning and related industry sectors is also evident when examining economic development within various industry sectors. Industry growth and projection reports identify that education itself is one of Australia’s major export industries. Other projected growth areas identified by the Reserve Bank include household and business services, food, arts and recreation.

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A Deloitte report also identifies industry sectors such as agribusiness, tourism, international education and wealth management as ones that are growth sectors for the Australian economy.

To do well in these sectors may require knowledge and skills in some or all of the STEM areas, but also relies on understanding people, design, experience and communications: the Arts subjects.

Is there really a crisis in the uptake of STEM subjects?

A review of senior secondary enrolments in several states over the past 20 years reveals that in most cases all students have to/or tend to study an English and a Math subject. When it comes to the sciences, Biology is the top or near top elective subject and while there is some drop in the percentage of Physics and Chemistry enrolments it is not perhaps as extreme as we have been lead to believe, and in fact in recent times in Queensland, for example, there has been an increase in the numbers for Chemistry enrolments.

Enrolments in sciences have not been dropping more substantially than other subjects over the last 20 years using Queensland data as an example. While percentages of total year 12 enrolments might be 5-10% lower, this has to be considered in the context of increased subject choices including vocational training courses. It is clear that the pattern of enrolment of the Arts and Humanities also shows similar decreases in percentages too. When it comes to the most dramatic drop in enrolments over the past 20 years it is actually Accounting (20% to 7%) and Economics (19% to 5%) that have seen the most dramatic declines.

Similar trends can be identified in New South Wales and Victorian data, though the strength of Chemistry seen in Queensland is not necessarily reflected in other state data.

While there is no doubt that there are still issues with enrolments in STEM by different target groups, including girls and students from low SES backgrounds, regional areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, these are not new issues. However a focus on increased enrolments in STEM per se is not likely to change that. Other strategies that focus more on pedagogy, combining STEM and arts based approaches are more likely to have impact (and have been the basis for strategies in places such as Korea).

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So what should we be doing?

It is important that capacity building in creativity and innovation be supported across the years of formal education (including early childhood, primary and secondary education) and tertiary study, including teacher education. This requires a shift beyond STEM and the ongoing focus on ‘basic skills’ in major educational drives, and to look at the cultivation of ideas and passions, calculated risk taking, how to work through failure, problem-finding and problem-solving and resolution of ideas into products and forms.

This requires an approach that recognizes that creativity and innovation can be cultivated across diverse learning and industry fields. If the current obsession with STEM is to continue, as I said previously, it should be converted to STEAM, with the Arts at its centre, at the very least, or perhaps ESTEAM to recognize the importance of Entrepreneurship as well.

Other key points

Here is my list of other key points and issues we need to tackle.

  • We need to see the arts, education and teacher education as being integral to a national innovation agenda

  • We should be specifically teaching teachers and children about innovation and creativity and to value the different knowledges and skills that can contribute to innovation

  • Include scope for more specialisations in primary education degrees, including in the arts and humanities

  • Recognise that there needs to be space for people to develop different interests, depth of knowledge and experience. Some of this can be supported through formal learning programs, but can also be supported through after school programs, partnerships and informal learning

  • Reduce the focus in educational agendas on NAPLAN and standardized test instruments and reports. We can’t mandate that everyone learns the same things in the same ways for 10 years of schooling and then expect them to do things ‘differently’. We need room for people to develop interests and expertise in diverse areas, so room for electives, special projects and enterprises.

If our governments recognize the importance of creativity and innovation for our future national prosperity (as the current parliamentary inquiry would indicate), attention must be paid to learning that promotes problem-solving and inventiveness, social innovation and entrepreneurship, and multiple forms of communication and expression. To do this effectively Australia needs to give just as much attention to the Arts as it is currently to the teaching of and participation in STEM. These areas are all fundamental to cultivating innovation for the future of our economy and our world.

Perhaps you’d like to read my own views on drama education.  Go to:  https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/08/14/top-seven-reasons-drama-education-is-important-to-your-childs-life/

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

I’d love to hear from you.

credit to Shakespeare

Did You Know All The Credit Goes to William Shakespeare? 

View this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=plcp&v=W-u_3Kg65JM

Let’s give credit to William Shakespeare, shall we?

This is what I am all about–good material which reaches everyone at some level. When I see people of different cultures, ages and socio-economic background  all attending a production, my heart swells with pride.

What is fascinating about theatre, and not everyone understands this, is the simpler the performance the more complicated it is. In that, we strive to make the pretend seem real. It is in the here and now when it is performed–it is fleeting and now gone.

The audience member thinks, “Was what I saw my imagination making it real to me? Or did it actually happen?” The emotions shared with us by the actors are raw and less guarded even when they are subtle.

Recently, I had the opportunity to see Next to Normal produced by the University of Kansas theatre department. I am familiar with the show as I attended another performance at Denver at the Performing Arts Center with the original lead actress. If you haven’t seen the show, you must.

 Next to Normal

Next to Normal tells a story about a family whose son dies and their coming to grips with the loss of him.  The mother is bi-polar and her emotional stability is in constant flux because of it.  Both parents see the spirit of the son and talk to him, but they never see at the same time. What makes this musical so intriguing is the juxtaposition of the mother’s emotional withdrawl and ultimate breakdown coupled with the family’s grief at the loss of their son. It’s a riveting piece and I can relate to it, although I can’t quite explain why.

This makes some people uncomfortable which is part of the experience. We must allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief in order to understand the play’s message. Simulataneously we feel what they feel and for some people this is scary, but it is the thrust of theatre.

So to William Shakespeare it is easy to give him all the credit and I say thanks!

Playwright Tony Kushner explains it best.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C87fblpBGmA

It’s Cyber Monday Every Day at Dramamommaspeaks.com

Bumbling Bea copy

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

I have a great gift for you here at Dramamommaspeaks.com

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

Do you have a reader in mind?

Maybe they’d enjoy mine.  Here is a short description for you:

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. Beatrice is sometimes sarcastic, sometimes very funny and always honest. What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.

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

Do I have the deal for you!

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

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

Go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/Dramamommaspeaks

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

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

I will try to impress you now…

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

I have won awards for both.

I am an award winning author. I’ve been interviewed several times about Bumbling Bea, the most recent was a podcast with a world wide membership.  Check it out here:  http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/3/0/930c33253e57a3ca/Deborah_Baldwin.mp3c_id=18480362&expiration=1515362648&hwt=f6571e878f770624d2dd0babf9fa6108

Check out reviews at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads.com  I think you’ll be pleased. Remember:  Cyber Monday is every day at Dramamommaspeaks.com.

And as always–

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

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backstage of theatre

Amazing Photos: What Actors See the Audience Does Not

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lauragallant/15-photos-of-what-actors-see-when-theyre-on-stage?utm_term=.ciWqJPYW6#.faDWzre9d

I have a little story for you which complements this post.

When I was in college, my college had its own summer stock theatre.  It was built out of an old airplane hangar way up in near Okoboji, Iowa. I spent two summers there–one as an actress playing several leading roles and one as the properties mistress.  I learned lots both summers.  I’m not big on defacing property, but we were invited to leave our autograph backstage somewhere.

Fast forward thirty years and guess what?  Our youngest daughter attended the same college and performed at the same summer stock theatre.  When we went to visit her at the end of the season, she took me aside and told me shhe had a little gift for me.  We walked backstage and she showed me her autograph which she left on the wall backstage right.over. mine.

It’s a special memory between us and one I will not forget!

So when I saw this photo of backstage, I was immediately reminded of my own experiences backstage during a play.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do.

 

Architectural photographer Klaus Frahm wanted to take people through the “fourth wall” that separates actors from their audience. To do this he photographed some of Germany’s most beautiful theatres from the perspective of the actors, looking out into the audit

Theaters backstage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is so cool to see the theaters from the view point of the actors.

If you haven’t visited backstage of a professional theater, you are missing out. They are fascinating architecture.

Do check it out!