Start a Playwriting Contest Using 20 Questions

Start a Playwriting Contest in 20 Easy Steps

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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 playwriting contest for large cast youth theatre plays.  It is called the Jackie White National Playwriting Award Contest and 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.

columbia-entertainment-company

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 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 created one!

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.

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—a 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!

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 something 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 appropriate.

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, life time 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?

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.

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/

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you!

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Lessons Learned as a Drama Teacher

The Lessons I Learned from Working as a Drama Teacher

In a past post, I spoke about my advice concerning teaching a drama class.  But I haven’t reflected on the lessons I learned about myself personally.

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After thirty-eight years of teaching drama to students of all ages, including adults, here are the lessons I have learned:

1. It is better to take the time to become well acquainted with my students than to hurry into a lesson.  People love to talk about themselves, so I give them a chance to do so.

2. I am punctual.  I like to be a bit early to engagements rather than late.  In the theatre, I was taught, “If you are early, you are on time.  If you are on time, you are late.  And if you are late, you are in trouble.”  Works  for me.

3. I’m organized.  I like to have all the materials I may or may not need at quick access.

4. I over plan my lessons, so that there is more than enough material to cover in case my students zip through an activity or exercise. This helps me keep my anxiety at bay.

5. I still wear a watch to keep track of the time.

6. I carry a water bottle and a beloved large cup of coffee.  I replenish the water bottle many times during a day.  Water and coffee help me to center myself if I find I’m unfocused.  Also, I carry snacks.

7. I dress nicely, but casually.  My mother always wondered my reasons for not wearing a dress to teach.  It’s  simple–I like to sit on the floor with my students, no matter the age.  I find it gives the classroom a kind of closeness that chairs can’t provide.

8. I invest in a good pair of expensive Danskos clogs from time to time.  They are sturdy, last a long time and have enough heel to make me appear taller. 🙂

9. I use my intuition and observation skills during class.  I’m aware of a class’ energy, dynamics and body language.  If a group of lethargic kids enter the classroom, I take the time to re-energize them through a game or merely telling a funny story.  Or, if they arrive too wound up, I will take the time to calm them down.

10. At the same time I am organized, I do enjoy moments of improvisation–those times where the class takes  off in a different direction than where I thought it would go.  It is quite easy to become perfunctory in one’s teaching, especially if one teaches the same subject many times in a day.  Off balance moments keep me alive in the classroom, so to speak.

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11. Over my many years of teaching, I have found students and parents to be much the same. It is the time in which we live and societal norms that make for the changes in their attitude towards their education and its importance in their lives and future.  When I first began my career, parents were very uninvolved in their children’s education. That was in 1979.  Then I became a parent in 1983.  I stayed home full time with our daughters for twelve years. 

12. When I returned to the classroom a parent’s behavior toward a teacher was quite different.  The parents only believed their children and NOT the teacher, an adult peer to the parents.  Times change, however. Recently, I heard someone complaining about the damages of over gifting of trophies to the losing team. He mentioned that over praising children makes for lack of self esteem instead of the opposite. Aha!

13. Theatre is created through an emotional person displaying other emotions. This is not an easy task, especially for kids. Early on, I learned to model the emotion for them which gave them a starting point. Sometimes, the student just needs you to go first.

14. I have believed in and lived my life by the quote, “People of integrity expect to be believed.  If they are not, time will prove them right.”  There are moments in my career when I know I did or said the right  thing even if no one else agreed with me.  I hold myself to a high standard and expect students to do so, too.  Sometimes parents or my administrators seem threatened by this. I hold my ground and it pays off in the end.  I may never receive an apology from the accuser, but at least I can live with myself for doing what was right at the time.

15. I rarely raise my voice with a class anymore.  I find that our students do not respond well to this.  I use a call and echo response technique instead.

16. I like to be on top of my game when I teach.  Teaching a group of different personalities is stressful enough.  I am rested.  I don’t grade papers on a weekend or spend my vacation thinking about the next semester.  There is plenty of time for that later.  If I am given professional time off, I use it for myself.

17. There are some school related details I just don’t remember–deadlines for grades to be in, fire drill               dates,  turning in a class materials list, etc.  Usually, I find another teacher who can keep all of this straight for me. They don’t know I turn to them for this information, but I do.

 18. When I am feeling bored, I usually entertain myself with a store bought lunch or new piece of music or new acting exercise to teach.

19. I use humor A LOT. I lifts my mood.😊

20. I enjoy team teaching.  Recently, I retired from formal public school teaching (I’ll probably teach in the private sector in the years to come.)  I team taught with three different vocal music teachers in musical theatre classes for six years.  Although it takes a while for me to adjust to another person’s style of teaching, I find having another teacher in the classroom completely changes the dynamics and refreshes me more than it frustrates me.

21. I try not to knee jerk at a student’s behavior.  Sometimes I achieve success at this and other times not so much. I still have to remind myself that kids make random behavior choices. Most of the time they are unaware of the consequences of their behavior.  I am very protective of my students, their  learning time as well as mine to teach.  Even after all these years, I remind myself that not all behavior is a direct attack at me.

22. I like to teach!  I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy directing as well.  It is a kind of teaching.  There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the “aha” moment in a student’s eyes when they understand and appreciate what I am instructing.

23. I am a better person having been a teacher.  It has brought out the best in me and shown me my weaknesses as well.  I impress myself by how much I know about theatre and can quickly become overwhelmed by how much I don’t.  I think that’s a good sign, though.

After all these years, I can still say I have room for improvement. Not everyone can say that about their chosen occupation.  Can you?

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I’d love to hear from you about what you have learned from your teaching experiences. Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to read about more of my teaching experiences, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/08/how-to-make-your-elementary-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-drama-part-one/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/09/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-part-two/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

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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.

Kamishibai Paper Performance Storytelling Unit–Engaging and Unique

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

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kamishibai-Paper-Performance-Storytelling-3260379

The paper drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And….it’s a bargain.

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

 

 

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

 

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.

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

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

Forty years—wow, that’s a long time.

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

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

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

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

I’ve watched:

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

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

  • a friend swallows a fly while singing

I have:

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how does one know the theatre is worth supporting?

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

1. Does the theatre company have a season?

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.  Does every show poster look like others?

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

10.  Does the company have a youth theatre program?

11.  How about any programs for seniors?

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dramamommaspeaks.com Youth Theatre

The Impact of Youth Theatre on the World

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

I am hoping this post will be helpful to parents.

Read this post if you’d like to know about my journey. https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/01/17/how-theatre-saved-m%EF%BB%BFy-life/

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

Read this post from a Litpick.com article I penned for them.

https://wordpress.com/post/dramamommaspeaks.com/1943https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/09/20/top-seven-reasons-drama-education-is-important-to-your-childs-life/comment

How Theater for Young People Could Save the World

By Loren Gunderson of the Huffington Post

Theatre for Children

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

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

celebrate actors being silly, wearing bright colors and singing obnoxiously

at squirming kiddos and bored parents?”

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

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

surprising theater that might just save the world.

Around the world artists are creating a new stripe of

Theatre for Young People that combines the elegance of dance,

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

the magnetism of puppetry and the inciting energy of new

musicals.

Theatre for Youth

Kids have access to more and more mature theatrical

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

to Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre to San Francisco’s

Handful Players to Ireland to Adelaide to Kosovo to Cape

These plays range from re-imagined fairy tales and adaptations

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

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

But how could theater, especially theater for young people,

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

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

in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy.

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

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

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

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

the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding

and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves.

We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from

other people’s actions. We practice caring.

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

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

that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax

challenges us to actively and specifically teach

children (and vote for presidents with) empathy.

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

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

of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences

for the next three years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and start changing the world for the better.

Theatre for Children– a great place to live.

What youth theatre company have you attended?  There are many good programs in the country.  I’ve love to hear your thoughts about youth theatre.

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

Sure Fire Formula that Works with Classroom Assignments

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If you are a teacher like me, sometimes you need a little help but don’t know where to find it. I’m just like anyone else–occasionally, I need a sure fire grading formula that works with classroom assignments–a time tested answer to my teaching needs. Creating new teaching rubrics is hard and time consuming. Thankfully you are no longer on your own, there are teacher tools available online!

Open the door to Rubistar.4teachers.org

Maybe this will help you…

Click here for a FREE copy. Informative Speech Rubric

speech making

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

So back to Rubistars4.teachers.org…..

Rubistar4teachers.org is a website for anyone teaching who needs

a particular rubric, or grade sheet.

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

And you can custom create a rubric to your particular needs.

Another terrific feature:  Teachers have made their grading rubrics available to you for your use, too! 

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

I have many rubrics through rubistar4teachers.org.  If you search my name, you should find them.  If not, contact me and I’ll help you.

In my new teaching positions, I can create rubrics right in the coursework assignments which is awesome.

Boy, has Infinite Campus changed over the years.  This software has been around for at least twenty years, I’d say.  We can do all kinds of things through it such as rosters, coursework, blog, test, attach assignments, surveys, videos and a bunch of other incredible helpers.

I still remember when we used paper gradebooks!  In my third years of teaching, my school called me one summer because I gave a student a B instead of an A as I had informed my student she would receive.

Can you imagine?  I had to go BACK to school and change the grade in the paper gradebook (which we turned in to the office, BTW…) and inform the student.

Now, we can change grades right on line with the click of the mouse!

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

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

speech making

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

drama teacher

The A-List Way to Becoming a Fabulous Teacher

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New teachers wonder what are the secrets to becoming an A-List teacher.

Rubistar.com is a website where a teacher can create any kind

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

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

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

My students presented wedding toasts, graduation,

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

and a host of other types.

I hope this helps you.

Check it out:  Group Presentation Speech Rubric – Excel

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

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

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

This rubric includes preparedness, time limit, introuduction, body, conclusion of the speech, visual aid, diction, posture, notecards, outline and bibiography.  There is room for notes from the teacher.

Now that I’ve implimented this rubric twice, I’m thinking each member of the group needs a separate rubric to be graded so that if a teacher needs to give one student a lower score on the speech, she can do so without making it public to the rest of the group.

This rubric was created for a college level class, however it is suitable for secondary level classes as well.

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

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

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