I had to put a few tweaks into my Google Alerts last week before publishing my latest Educational Theatre News Roundup!
I got SO EXCITED when I first saw “High School Play of the Week” show up in my Google Alerts…
Alas, the “play” was not a theatrical production, but a football strategy.
I have “high school theatre” and “high school theater” in my search. But most days, there were high school sports articles showing up in my Google Alerts because they had the word “play” in them.
So I put (-football, -baseball, -basketball, -soccer) into my search parameters.
And while I’m kind of worried that shows with football (That Championship Season, Good Boys and True) or baseball (Damn Yankees, The First) or soccer (The Wolves, Not a Game for Girls) as a component in the production might be left out, it seems to be working. This week, I only had volleyball (3x), golf (once), and bocce (once) show up in my results.
There are a lot of high schools performing Radium Girls this fall. A LOT. So many production announcements of the show have shown up in my news alerts in the last few weeks that I took to Dramatic Publishing’s website to get some perspective. The map of scheduled productions of Radium Girls in the United States and Canada looks like this:
So if you haven’t yet decided what show to do this semester, maybe save Radium Girls for another year?
The title of this article says it all: “Local Police Officers and High School Students Partner To Create A Multimedia Theatrical Production Addressing Social Justice Issues.” In Elizabeth, New Jersey, The Privilege of Living blends the efforts of the Elizabeth Youth Theatre Ensemble, The Office of Youth, and HBO’s Corporate Responsibility division. The Privilege of Living is a devised theatre piece which aims to “reinforce positive interactions between (high school) students and a diverse cohort of police officers.”
In California, UC Davis is hosting its Ground and Field Theatre Festival beginning September 26. There’s a new musical set in a high school (albeit a dystopian one!) called Ranked. It’s about academic competition, so there’s probably a few real-world parallels. The writers, Kyle Holmes and David Taylor Gomes, were working at Granite Bay High School (CA) when they developed the show. Check out the website for Ranked here; the cast breakdown looks good for high school production needs.
The Munster High School theatre department has teamed up with the Rotary Club and Project Green to present a dinner theatre performance of The Addams Family Musical. The dinner will feature vegetables from the high school garden, although there will not be themed dishes. I’m somewhat disappointed that no Acrimonium mocktails will be served.
There’s a 16-day festival going on at The Kennedy Center; it’s celebrating the opening of The REACH, a new venue which strives to give visitors “the opportunity to fully interact and engage with the Center.” The schedule looks amazing, with a Muppet-themed day, Educator Open Houses, Second City Improv events, world dance classes, and half-day “Teen Takeover!”
Vermont Stage has started a Youth Company; an interesting division of their program is the Arts Alliance – “a collective of future leaders in the artistic community” – that will attend performances and have discussions about programming.
SUCCESSES FOR TEACHER-DIRECTORS
The Winston-Salem Journal is doing a SIX-PART series profiling arts teachers in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system; this week it was high school theatre instructor Chad Edwards’ turn. The article title teases that Edwards was a latecomer to the theatre, but he got started in high school, which is relatively early for lots of theatre people. (I regularly see people at auditions who are trying it for the first time in their 40s and 50s.)
The winner of the Texas Educational Theatre Association award for K-12 Theatre Educator of the Year is Linda Major, the teacher-director at Leander High School.
Powell High School in Wyoming now has three years’ worth of theatre classes for students to take, and hopes to add a fourth. That’s impressive for a public high school with less than 600 students total!
SCHOLARSHIPS & GRANTS
The Educational Theatre Association is hosting their Broadway Back to School Gala on September 22. Winners of Thespian Scholarships and the Playworks competition from the International Thespian Society Festival will perform with professional artists in New York. Proceeds benefit the Educational Theatre Foundation, which supports theatre education programs in schools.
Speaking of the Educational Theatre Foundation, the organization funds JumpStart Theatre, a program that enables schools to produce their first musical. In Atlanta, the Alliance Theatre is providing teaching artists to three middle schools over a period of three years for the JumpStart Theatre program. The teaching artists help train teachers to sustain a theatre program at their schools.
INTERESTING THEATRICAL EXPERIENCES FOR YOUNG ADULTS
A Teen Improv troupe in Venice, Florida experiences success “in the moment.”
Students grades 7-12 will create “A Play in 48” in Telluride, Colorado. The article says the participants “will eat, sleep, and breathe theatre” during their experience, but I’m pretty sure the young people signing up for this already do.
There was an opportunity for an Epic Role Play Adventure in Prescott Valley, Arizona; the event looks like it’s a combination of a live-action role play game, improv class, and stage combat workshop.
ITEMS OF INTEREST for THEATRE EDUCATORS
Cincinnati.com has a profile of Veronica Bishop, production manager at Playhouse in the Park. It’s an interesting glimpse of a job rarely held in K-12 educational theatre; students may enjoy learning about her work.
In Michigan, Kathleen Verstraete has been working as the costumer at Old Town Playhouse (as a volunteer!) for over 30 years and has costumed over 200 shows! (She does have some paid jobs as a freelance seamstress as well).
Melissa Pereyra wrote an essay for HowlRound titled “We Have Suffered Enough: The Cost of Performing Trauma for Women of Color” that really got my synapses firing. She reveals that many of the roles she’s played as a woman of color, either due to the script itself or directorial casting choices, have been rife with violence, emotional trauma, and psychological torture.
Teacher-directors often choose productions based on the cultural makeup of their students; if they are looking for pieces for their students of color, how does the suffering of the characters (or lack thereof) influence their selection decisions? How should it?
One of the most intriguing observations Pereya made was “As actors, our minds may know violence on stage is part of play, but our bodies don’t… The reality of what we do is such that…there is no way to communicate to my muscles that I am not in danger.”
If this is true for an adult professional, do some teenage performers feel the same way? Is it okay for teacher-directors to ask teenagers to deal with the ramifications of portraying trauma? And what about younger kids who are in shows? Oliver? Matilda? The Von Trapp kids in Sound of Music? Pereya’s raised quite a few issues to think about.