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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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.

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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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

 

 

 

 

Meet Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest

Have you met Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest?

There are many authors who need a boost.  Here is one with a darling book I know you and your children would enjoy reading, Jaden Toussaint the Greatest. One of Marti’s stories includes Jaden being in a play.

A play, you say?  Hmmmm.

 

Jaden Touissant 2

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest
Making smart cool again.
Series Title: Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest
Author: Marti Dumas
Genre: Illustrated Chapter Book/Middle Grade Fiction (Ages 5-10)
New Orleans children’s book author Marti Dumas’ has released a new book in the
popular Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest series.

Each book has debuted at #1 on
Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for children’s chapter books.

Jaden Touissant

Jaden Toussaint, 5-year-old scientist and all around cool dude, wants to become super famous. The problem is that his parents won’t let him upload his amazing animal facts videos to the internet. He’s working on a plan, when a perfect opportunity presents itself:
his class play. Jaden and his friends soon learn that being upon stage is not easy for everyone. Jaden Toussaint’s positive problem-solving techniques are entertaining for children and the adults who read with them, and give children a fun, positive role
model for their own big decisions.

MartiDumas2
Marti Dumas is a mother, teacher, and author from New Orleans. She is a contributing writer on education and parenting for Think504.com and other publications. An expert in childhood literacy, Marti has worked with children and teachers across the country for the last 15 years to promote an early love of reading both in and out of the classroom. Her most recent book, Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest was a #1 New Release on Amazon.com.

Author Website: www.MartiDumasBooks.com
New Orleans, Louisiana Author Email: info@MartiDumas.com

I highly recommend you look for Marti’s books!  I think you’ll enjoy them.

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

I’d love to hear from you.

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If you are interested in my middle grade award winning book, Bumbling Bea, here are some recent reviews.  Check it out here:  New Book reviews on Bumbling Bea

You can purchase Bumbling Bea here:  Bumbling Bea at Amazon

National Haiku Day Bumbling Bea Style

April 15 is National Haiku Day. I’m going to honor national haiku day Bumbling Bea style.

You gotta wonder who thinks up these national days….

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

When I think of Haiku, I think of gorgeous flowering trees in Japan.

I’m sure there are poets who write them without thinking like I do.

I did a little researching and found Creative.Writing.Now. com.  It’s a website founded by writing teachers about writing.  One of their pages is about haiku poetry.  

The following are typical of haiku:

  • A focus on nature.

  • A “season word” such as “snow” which tells the reader what time of year it is.

  • A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.

  • Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.

In honor of National Haiku Day, April 15 I created a few haiku about the characters of my award winning book, Bumbling Bea. There are several acknowledgements to the Japanese culture in the story so it only seemed fitting.

 My haiku aren’t about trees, flowers and clouds, but they are about the nature of human beings.  (Get it, get it?)

Bumbling Bea

Beatrice about Michiko:

Laughing and bowing

Her voice strong and dramatic

I wish I was her.

Bumbling Bea

Michiko thoughts about her mother:

You loudly scold me

Stretching, growing up I cry

This life’s mine not yours.

Bumbling Bea

Peter’s reflection about the  Michiko sabotage:

Devil leaves of three

Softly touch innocent skin

Oozing mounds erupt.

Bumbling Bea

Bumbling Bea would say:

I take over you

blurting outrageous things

Always regretting them.

Mr. Brace quips:

As father I’m bound

To family duties

Begrudging all.

Mrs. Brace to Mr. Brace:

Can’t you see I’m sad?

It’s hard to forget

Happy days, sweet nights.

BB chapter 16

The Cast’s thoughts:

Performance is super

Michiko adds spice and flare

But what’s with the freeze?

Lost?  You won’t be once you read my book.  Check it out here:

http://tinyurl.cpm/n5at3o

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

 

Student Survival: The Importance of Pleasure Reading for a Kid

So, let’s talk about pleasure reading for a kid.

Recently, I was looking for a  pleasure reading book to purchase for my upcoming trip over seas. I was having a difficult time finding one. I saw a child who was nearly eating a book while he read it–in the time I looked over one aisle of books, he read three (all right, they were short, but still…)

 

books

Some people are selective about the genres they read.  I usually gravitate toward books with quirky characters in ordinary appearing plots. I say “ordinary appearing” because it is always intriguing to find the characters going somewhere else than you expected.

However, I am known to cheat and read the last chapter of a book if a. the story is moving too slowly for me or b. I’m dying to know what happens. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for doing so–still haven’t kicked the habit.  Sorry, Mom.

I worry about kids’ reading preferences. It seems many writers write for whatever trend is popular the time. A few years ago, it was zombies and time travelers. Not every child wants to read fantasy or graphic novels.  That’s why I penned Bumbling Bea.  If you haven’t picked up my book, you might want to try it.  I promise you, it isn’t your run of the mill plot! Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/n5at3oh

I ran on to an article concerning this concern and I thought you’d be interested, too.

Indie Book

Promoting the Pleasures of Reading: Why It Matters to Kids and to Country

June 10, 2017

Advocacy, Inquiry, Literacy, Reading, Teachingpleasure reading

by Lu Ann McNabb

This post is written by member Jeffrey Wilhelm.

Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them was this past year’s winner of the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in English Education.

The research findings that we report in Reading Unbound have profound implications for us as teachers, for our students, and for democracy.

In our book, we argue that pleasure reading is a civil rights issue. Why? Because fine-grained longitudinal studies (e.g., the British Cohort study: Sullivan & Brown, 2013; and John Guthrie’s analysis of PISA data, 2004, among many others) demonstrate that pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor in both cognitive progress and social mobility over time.

pleasure reading

Pleasure reading is more powerful than parents’ educational attainment or socioeconomic status.

This means that pleasure reading is THE way to address social inequalities in terms of actualizing our students’ full potential and overcoming barriers to satisfying and successful lives.

We think that our data explain why pleasure reading leads to cognitive growth and social mobility.

The major takeaway for teachers is to focus on pleasure in our teaching. Pleasure has many forms: play pleasure/immersive pleasure, when you get lost in a book—this is a prerequisite pleasure and we can foster it in various ways, such as teaching with an inquiry approach, using drama and visualization strategies, etc.; work pleasure, where you get a functional and immediately applicable tool for doing something in your life; inner work pleasure, where you imaginatively rehearse for your life and consider what kind of person you want to be; intellectual pleasure, where you figure out what things mean and how texts were constructed to convey meanings and effects; and social pleasure, in which you relate to authors, characters, other readers, and yourself by staking your own identity.

Kids (like all other human beings!) do what they find pleasurable. You get good at what you do and then outgrow yourself by developing new related interests and capacities.

Book

Play pleasure develops the capacity to engage and immerse oneself, to visualize meanings and relate to characters. It is the desire to love and be loved. Work pleasure is the love of getting something functional done. Work pleasure is about the love of application and visible signs of accomplishment. Readers engaging in this pleasure cultivate transfer of strategies and insights to life.

Inner work pleasure involves imaginatively rehearsing what kind of person one wants to be. As our informant Helen asserted: “It’s not really learning about yourself, it’s learning about what you could be . . . .” and “Characters are ways of thinking really . . . They are ways of being you can try on.”

Inner work is the love of transformation—of connecting to something greater, of striving to become something more. When our informants engaged in this pleasure, they expressed and developed a growth mindset and a sense of personal and social possibility.

 pleasure reading

Intellectual pleasure is pursued for the joy of figuring things out; it develops the capacity to see connections and solve problems. Our informants developed resilience, grit, and proactivity through the exercise of this pleasure. Erik Erikson argued that staking one’s identity is the primary task of early to late adolescence and that this is achieved through evolving interests and competence.

Social pleasure involves this human developmental project because it involves relating to authors, characters, other readers, and the self in ways that stake identity. Social pleasure is the love of connection—to the self, others, community, and to doing significant work together.

This pleasure develops social imagination: the capacity to experience the world from other perspectives; to learn from and appreciate others distant from us in time, space, and experience; and the willingness to relate, reciprocate, attend to, and help others different from ourselves.

In other words, it promotes cognitive progress, wisdom, wholeness, and the democratic project. In fact, all of the pleasures were found to do this.

Our data clearly establish that students gravitate to the kinds of books they need to navigate their current life challenges, and that many ancillary benefits accrue in the realms of cognition, psychology, emotional development, and socialness. So much so that we developed the mantra: Kids read what they need!

 

This finding led us to be more trusting of kids’ choices and to ask them about why they chose to read what they did, and eventually to championing these choices. We likewise found that each of the marginalized genres we studied (romance, horror, vampire, fantasy, and dystopia) provided specific benefits and helped students navigate different individual developmental challenges.

Our data also establish that young people are doing sophisticated intellectual work in their pleasure reading, much of it just the kind of work that the Common Core and other next generation standards call for. So making pleasure more central to our practice is not in conflict with working to achieve standards.

girl reading

Standards and all the other significant goals described here can be achieved if teachers value interpretive complexity as much as they do textual complexity, if they create inquiry contexts that reward entering a story world and doing psychological and social work in addition to more traditional academic goals, and if they provide opportunities for choice and meaningful conversation.

Given the benefits of each pleasure, we are convinced that pleasure reading is not only a civil right, it is a social necessity of democracy.

That is why we urge you to promote pleasure reading in your classroom and school, and it is why our book is filled with practical ideas for how to do so while promoting each of the five pleasures. It is monumental work—and it is work we must undertake with the greatest urgency—particularly at this moment in history.

books

What are some of your favorite genres to read? Perhaps you have a child who might enjoy reading my book, Bumbling Bea simply for the fun of it.  I think they’ll enjoy it!

Check it out here:  https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516988757&sr=8-1&keywords=Bumbling+Bea

I’d love to hear from you.

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

The Reason to Value the Broadway Wig Maker

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/08/319778329/while-broadway-sings-its-praise-the-wigmaker-remains-unsung

The Undervalued Wig MakEr

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

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

While Broadway Sings Its Praise, The Wigmaker Remains Unsung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIaFn5lsLd8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Broadway wig maker- so important!

super hero post cards stories

What are Super Hero Postcard Stories

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Storytelling-Super-Hero-Post-Card-Stories-3238578

Are you looking an exercise to super charge your classroom?  Something fun but useful to teach with these weeks right before a holiday break? How about Super Hero Postcard Stories?

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

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

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

Why super heroes?  First, they are wildly popular with all ages.  Look at the ticket sales for Wonder Woman and the Black Panther.  How wonderful to focus upon females and people of color!  Think what that can do for some student.

super hero post cards stories

Plus, some times our students think we are stuffy when in fact, we are busy curtailing over enthusiasm.  It’s not that we can’t have fun, but too much fun because bedlam in a drama classroom.

The Super Hero Postcard Stories are your answer to fun and learning!

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

If you enjoy this one, please check out my store at Teacherspayteachers.com at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Dramamommaspeaks

I’m always adding new products.  My radio theatre unit is very popular, so check it out:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/RADIO-THEATRE-IN-THE-CLASSROOM-Tune-In-and-Turn-On-3319922

It is a three week unit focused on radio theatre–how to perform it, various lessons on radio theatre itself, cooperative learning and even a homework assignment.  Oh yes, I almost forgot–I included a vintage radio theatre play which I adapted for classroom use–H.S. Welle’s The Invisible Man.

Or maybe something else will help you.

Please feel to share this post with others, too!

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

 

Twelve Important Questions to Ask About Your City’s Community Theatre

I have been involved in theatre for nearly forty years. I have twelve important questions to ask about your city’s community theatre.

Forty years—wow, that’s a long time.

I’ve seen fabulous theatre and some really stinky stuff, too.  Even on Broadway!

I’ve melted enduring out door theatre in the dead of summer until intermission when I could get some relief in an air conditioned rest room.

I witnessed a famous, well respected professional actor break character and fall into fits of laughter and not able to compose himself right through curtain call.

Another time I caught a dancer kicking a cape off the stage that had fallen off another dancer as he exited.

I’ve watched:

  • in horror as a friend’s period wig (1700’s) falls right off her noggin’.

  • a skirt slowly make its way down a high school girl’s behind because it didn’t get zipped,

  • a friend swallows a fly while singing

I have:

  • been bitten by mosquitoes while I sang a romantic song trying to dodge the gnats swirling in to my face

  • heard the crackling sound of beetles squished with my heel while dancing a jig

  • gained five pounds in one week (!!) from eating fruit pies (meat pies) for Sweeney Todd performing a sight gag

You name it, I’ve seen it or experienced it myself.

Image result for award winning community theatre

Despite all of these experiences (and more), I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Theatre is a marvelous activity in which to participate, attend or support.

But how does one know the theatre is worth supporting?

Here are the twelve questions to ask of your community theatre:

1. Does the theatre company have a season?

Is the season varied, sprinkled with a comedy, drama and musical? Or do they merely produce the same sort of shows every year?  (You know, a Disney musical for the kids, a classic comedy or frightening thriller? Does the company ever produce a brand new play?)

2. Do they sponsor a special event, such as a new play contest?

3.  Does anyone else ever rent the theatre for some other activity? Do other theater companies use the venue?

4.  Do they welcome to new directors and actually hire them?

5.  Do you ever see new performers or designers working at the theatre from time to time?

Image result for award winning community theatre

6. Do the sets and costumes look recycled?  Can you name the show a particular costume was worn in another show when you see it paraded in front of you in the present show you are seeing?

8.  Does every show poster look like others?

9.  Does the company ever try anything new or experimental?

10.  Does the company have a youth theatre program?

11.  How about any programs for seniors?

Image result for award winning community theatre senior program

12.  Did you leave a performance feeling exhilarated by the show?

If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding “no!”, then I’d suggest you support some other company.

Theatre people are creative people.  If the theatre never changes, it means it’s on auto pilot and frankly, I wouldn’t support it if I were you.  When you do, you are condoning their lack of creativity, their laziness.

So, there you have it–twelve questions to ask about your city’s community theatre.

Trust me, support the new community theatre company who has just opened their doors to the public.  They have more chance of doing something new and exciting than the broken record one.  They need your support.

Image result for award winning community theatre

What have you seen or experienced in a performance or viewing it?  I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net