EDUCATIONAL THEATRE ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
The Educational Theatre Association held their annual Conference September 19-22; the event features workshops, seminars, celebrations of school theatre. Stephen Schwartz was this year’s Keynote Speaker.
The Educational Theatre Foundation raised over $150,000 at the 2019 Broadway Back to School Gala. The Gala honored March Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Chita Rivera and Laura Benati were there. The Foundation helps schools set up Thespian Troupes in Title 1 schools, where at least 40% of the students are classified as low-income.
The winner of the International Thespian Society’s annual essay contest – which advocates for theatre in schools – gets to read at the gala. Watch the 2019 winner, Brannon Evans, present her essay at the 2019 National Arts Action Summit.
The Performance Director of the Hastings-on-Hudson Free School District (maybe he’s the Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator?) attended the Educational Theatre Foundation’s Gala. Hastings High School won an ETF/NBC R.I.S.E. America grant which allowed them to expand auditions for Hairspray to neighboring districts and cast the show with an appropriately diverse cast.
Raleigh Little Theatre Takes on The Story of Jena 6 , black high school students who were accused of the attempted murder of a white classmate.
Maine South High School produced Shakespeare in Love this weekend. After spending a year atop American Theatre’s Most-Produced Plays List for the 2017-2018 season (American Theatre’s list, based on professional productions, has a lot more movement on it than Dramatics high school list, year-to-year) Shakespeare in Love is being produced by high schools. There is a high school version as well as the original; I’ve put them on my list of “to read” plays. Both have casts of 18 males and 6 females, which makes it a difficult choice for high schools.
The show must go on – even if the expected stage isn’t there – at Santa Rosa Junior College. The Theatre Arts Department was supposed to have a new theatre ready for their production of The Good Doctor, but they’re going to perform in a lecture hall instead.
Bedlam Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts is doing a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible that’s not set in 17th-century Salem.
Some outside-the-box educational theatre fall productions:
In Ohio, Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School mounted a co-production of The Bigfoot Letters.
In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Millbrook Playhouse has a Halloween-ready production of Kid Frankenstein, The Musical. It looks like the Vital Theatre Company premiered the show in New York in 2017.
In North Carolina, Winston-Salem’s Kaleideum children’s museum and Peppercorn Theatre have teamed up for a workshop performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. There’s interactive exhibit accompanying the piece.
In the Washington Post, John Kelly takes on the American idiosyncratic spellings of “theatre” versus “theater.” He writes local interest pieces for the D.C. area, so he spoke to several companies in Washington. I’ve spelled “theatre” for the art, and “theater” for the building since I was aware enough to notice the two choices. When I’m writing about productions, I try to be careful to spell “theater” or “theatre” based on the company’s own materials. Kelly has made a controversial argument; just read the comments. The piece made me glad I picked a URL with “DRAMA” in the name!
I came across this charming essay by Anna Rose Deleon Guerrero in my Google Alerts. Guerrero is from the Mariana Islands, a U.S. Territory in Micronesia, and she wrote the piece for her hometown newspaper. But I think her story will resonate with students who aren’t sure if they’ll “fit” in the theatre world.