September 15-21 has been a quiet week in Theatre Education News. Next week, I’m expecting to see items from the Educational Theatre Association’s Conference which happened this past weekend as well as performance coverage from high schools whose years started in August.
A musical called Ride the Cyclone features 6 high school students who spend most of the show…dead. This production at Jungle Theatre in Minneapolis has professional adult actors, and it’s the only one going up this year, but maybe it will be available for the educational market in a few years.
Becoming Nancy is a musical about a high school musical production of Oliver! Teacher-directors will find the premise testing their suspension of disbelief – not enough girls audition for the show, and so a male senior gets cast as Nancy – but female who’s had to play a male role in a show due to there not being enough male to cover the parts will appreciate the irony. Bonus: it looks like the show’s set in a high school gymnatorium, so it should be fun for any thespians who’ve had to figure out how to disguise a scoreboard or hang lights without electrifying the basketball hoops!
In Vancouver, MISCELLANEOUS Productions – a “hip hop theatre boot camp” – presents Away from Home. It’s a devised theatre piece created by a group of 14-21-year-olds.
American Theatre has published its 2019 lists of 10 Most-Produced Plays and 10 Most-Produced Playwrights. You may be wondering about overlaps with the Educational Theatre Association’s list of most-produced high school plays in 2019 There are none that I spotted. It’s possible that the rights for many of these productions, which are mostly recent works, are still restricted to professional companies.
PROFESSIONALS OFFERING ADVICE
The Dramatists Guild of America has launched a “Don’t Change the Words” initiative (#DontChangetheWords) aimed at high school and university theatre departments. DGA is spreading the word about not changing the words or the music of a licensed work without permission from the rights holder and creators. This is NOT one of those “it’s easier to apologize than ask permission” situations.
You can read more here; also note the DGA’s cool motto – “Your pen, our sword!”
Actor’s Equity is offering a workshop on student debt. For recent graduates, having loans can prevent them from being able to put their years of training to use.
Here’s an article from the United Kingdom’s The Stage newspaper on foundation courses in drama – might be an idea for a gap year?
University of Georgia Student STEAMs into a Double Major…I like my headline better than UGA Today’s “Combining Engineering and Arts in Theater Set Design,” but kudos to Hannah Fordham for pursuing two passions!
The University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film, & Television has a new director; here’s an interview from the college’s newspaper, The Daily Wildcat.
Undecided student felt pressure to pursue theatre degree: Elissa Maudlin shares her experience as a college student who hasn’t declared a major. This is an unusual situation, many high school students thinking of pursuing a theatre degree hear: “If there’s anything else you can see yourself doing, DO THAT,” or “What’s your FALLBACK?” or “If you have the passion and drive to do this, you should” or even worse discouragements.
In Ann Arbor, Michigan – well-known as a “college town” – Theatre NOVA presents Admissions, a play by Joshua Harmon. While the plot involves a son’s desire to get into an Ivy League university, it also deals with larger issues of race and class. Read more about the play on Samuel French’s website; Joshua Harmon appears on the aforementioned American Theatre list.
BENJI PASEK AND JUSTIN PAUL…
I created this section because there were two items featuring them in a single reading session…and I somehow thought there would be more news about them.
Students from J.P Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida will perform Benji Pasek and Justin Paul’s first work as a team, Edges, on September 25th.
I came across this review of Dogfight: The Musical – written by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul (with book by Peter Duchan). The reviewer points out that NONE of the writers of the show – composers, lyricists, or the playwright – received credits in the program. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES provided by your licensing agency for crediting the creators. I’ve never seen a set that says you can skip authorial credits in the program. (SEE ALSO: “Don’t Change the Words”)
The American Theatre Wing honored the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation at their Gala on September 16. Benji Pasek and Justin Paul received a Jonathan Larson grant in 2007; Norm Lewis performed “Part of a Painting” from Edges at the Gala.
Okay, I might be pushing it for a Pasek/Paul connection here, but they did have autographed memorabilia on offer at the Broadway Flea Market silent auction on September 22. The Broadway Flea Market benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a long-standing icon of the American theatre community’s philanthropic efforts.
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST for THEATRE EDUCATORS
“I’m Not Interested in More Allies, I Need Advocates” is a conversation between Michael J. Bobbitt, the Artistic Director of New Repertory Theatre in Boston, and Raymond O. Caldwell, Artistic Director of Theatre Alliance. They touch on the needs of theatre students of color, and how dramatic works about people of color should expand their horizons beyond trauma. (Melisa Pereyra’s essay “We Have Suffered Enough,” featured in last week’s Education Theatre News Roundup, addresses similar concerns)
In Chicago, Lifeline Theatre presents Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile – based on one of my favorite children’s books – with many accessible performance options.
The Young Professionals Company at Oregon Children’s Theatre opens its season with DNA, a thriller by Dennis Kelly. Samuel French licenses the title; here’s a description.
Smashed, an “international alcohol education theatre programme” by Collingwood Learning, is touring Scotland for a second year in a row. The cast follows performances with interactive workshops for students. My Google Alerts led me to an item in a News Roundup on just-drinks.com titled “Responsible Drinking Activations Around the World” which took me to the UK’s Business Quarter website, whose article has the much catchier title of “Scots Pupils Smash Alcohol Awareness Thanks to Touring Educational Theatre Production on Dangers of Underage Drinking.”
“The stage is not only here for everyone’s entertainmet, it’s also a catalyst for social change. If people are asking why, we’ve done our job.” – St. Helena High School Junior and Assistant Director of The Laramie Project. He’s assisting senior Patti Coyle who’s directing the Pulitzer-winning play.
Ocean County College in New Jersey has a Theatre in London Seminar/Trip that’s open to community members as well as students; they’ll see ten to twelve plays in eleven days!
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory received funding from the Greenspring Grant program to start internships for high school and college performers. (The grant program is limited to entities in Maryland, Georgia, and New Jersey – I always check on those!)