Here are a few Educational Theatre items that appeared in my Google Alerts or Twitter Feed in the past two weeks.
THEATRE TEACHERS KEEPING BUSY
In Michigan, Ann Arbor Community High School teacher Quinn Strassel held a staged reading of his musical farce, Betsy DeVos! The Musical! featuring the U.S. Secretary of Education as the eponymous star. The plot: DeVos attempts to “put on a show” at a charter school, despite having no training or experience in educational theatre. Here’s another article on the show from The Michigan Daily.
Strassel has a GoFundMe to help raise enough for full-fledged production; he states on the page: “I can’t outspend Betsy but I’m fighting back with what I’ve got: comedy, music, love, support from my community, and years of experience teaching and directing theatre.
Shout out to Ryan Stanton of Michigan Live who made a good faith effort to contact the Department of Education, which did not respond to requests for comment.
University City (Missouri) drama teacher Catherine Hopkins was the recipient of a fellowship from The English-Speaking Union (it was originally founded in the spirit of camaraderie between Brits and Americans) to study at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre this summer. She studied “original practice” – doing Shakespeare as it was originally performed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Here’s a link to the 2019 TLab (Travel and Learn Abroad) programs; bookmark it for when the 2020 application season starts (looks like the deadlines are in February).
Karen King won the Texas Educational Theatre Association Founders Award; she’s had a long career in educational theatre and worked in the film industry as well.
Did your school have a musical cast with faculty members? I didn’t know this was a thing (outside of a dramatic device for TV shows set in schools), and it’s happening in my home state! The Donegal School District has had faculty members rehearsing an annual musical for 20 years. Proceeds go towards arts scholarships for seniors attending college. This year’s show is Into the Woods – presented September 5, 7, and 8 – see here for more information.
EDUCATIONAL THEATRES ANNOUNCING SEASONS AND INITIATIVES
Audiences will enjoy“Crowd-pleasing” productions at the College of Lake County in Lake County, Illinois
It’s “A Season of Significance” at Oxford High School in Mississippi; they’re celebrating their old auditorium before moving to a new one in August 2020. Productions include the rarely-seen-in-high-schools Blood Brothers and a “Musical of Musicals” celebrating 40 years of shows at OHS.
East Ridge High School in Florida is producing the recently-released-for-amateurs Bright Star
In Delaware, Sussex Central High School’s 2019-2020 season includes Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and an inaugural high school improv competition!
At the University of Pittsburgh, the Department of Theatre Arts’ flagship company, Pitt Stages, has a combination of student-directed and professor-helmed productions.
Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts is partnering with Parallel 45 Theatre to provide a devised theatre experience for the Center’s theatre students who attend boarding school and an artist-in-residence opportunity for theatre professionals.
A production of Taming of the Shrew with a Wild West concept at J. Frank Dobie High School in Houston, Texas has cut the five-act Shakespeare play to a running time of less than 40 mintues. Other than removing what must have been close to two-thirds of the dialogue – the show usually runs over two hours – the director says “he didn’t change a word of text.”
Nonetheless, Dobie High School has one busy theatre department – they also have a haunted house fundraiser coming up in October and a production of Mamma Mia! In November!
NEW/RENOVATED EDUCATIONAL THEATRE SPACES OPEN FOR LEARNING
In the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Thomas Jefferson High School has a design based on it’s namesake’s Monticello. There’s a video that shows the auditorium from the audience…but I wanted to see the backstage area!
Billerica High School in Lowell, Massachusetts
The Hamilton School in Qatar (featuring largest school theatre in Doha – 850 seats) is a brand-new international school welcoming its first students.
Center Stage Education Center, in Shelton, Connecticut
SCHOLARSHIPS & GRANTS
Playbill.com did a round-up of theatre scholarships for college students; if you have students applying to performing arts programs, they might want to take a look.
Los Angeles area elementary schools can apply for a Disney KIDS musical theatre residency: Teaching artists from Center Theatre Group and Disney Theatrical work with students to produce a Disney KIDS musical. You can find more information here; the deadline for applications is Friday, September 19th.
OTHER NEWS & NOTES
Rachel Handler interviewed Rachel Brosnahan for Vulture: Why did I include this in my round-up? Because these two Rachels did high school theatre together! It’s great to “listen in” to their memories of the program at Highland Park High School in Illinois.
Here’s an article from Playbill.com offering some alternatives to the Educational Theatre Association’s list of Most-Produced Plays and Musicals. I’m not sure why they listed The Prom as an option, though – as they say in the article, “rights are currently restricted.”
I haven’t been a rabid fan of the High School Musical franchise, but the Disney+ series looks like it’ll be a metafictional delight, with the original High School Musical movie being an actual movie in the series. The high school in the TV series is putting on a production of High School Musical, which became High School Musical (the musical stage production) after the movie High School Musical.
In an exciting development, a superintendent touted school theatre programs during an interview – thank you Schools Director Dr. Joey Vaughn of Manchester City Schools, Tennessee!
A high school student is running a theatre company for young adults with disabilities in Hawthorne, California.
A Missoula Children’s Theatre residency in Payson, Arizona had 60 students, 1st through 12th grades, perform a musical version of Jack and the Beanstalk after just a week’s worth of rehearsals. If you haven’t seen the documentary The Little Red Truck, about the Missoula Children’s Theatre’s touring educational program, you’re in for a treat!