What Is A Drama Teacher?

A Fourth Grade Classroom:

I was asked the question: “What is a Drama Teacher?” when I had announced that I am one.

According to a young lady , who I had the pleasure to work with that day, a Drama Teacher is:


“Someone who teaches others to exaggerate emotions so they can be Drama Queens.”


I think that pretty much says it all.


Urban Shakespeare: Week Five-Hell Week

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

Week Five is now over and done, and I needed the day to separate myself from Hell Week (part one). For those not in the know, Technical Rehearsal week is unofficially called Hell Week.  It is full of stops and starts, is long LONG hours, tempers are high and patience is at a minimum towards stupidity, lighting, sound and final blocking cues are locked in, costuming should already be happening, makeup, the stage manager should have the action running ON stage while the Directors (actual production director, musical director, technical director and Choreographer) work on the minute details and honing, the actors SHOULD know  all their lines, entrances and exits, and…did I mention the long, long hours?

Theater Hell Week

Tips for Surviving HS Theater Hell Week

Caliban’s Revenge: Hell Week

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.  ~Richard Carlson

As is the normal case with running around like mad men (NOT the TV show!), a good many of us are sick. Head colds are running rampant, and I have sneezed, coughed, hacked and fallen asleep at the computer more times this week than I can actually count, let alone shake a stick at. Not sure why I would want to shake a stick, but if I had one, I tell you…you would see some real stick shaking!!!

I am glad for this weekend to, first, spend time with family and friends (yesterday) and, second, to have a day of just me, music, writing and napping (today). As of tomorrow, I enter into the final week of the six week production process that culminates in what it’s all been about: a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast? said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.

“I have had a most rare vision.” ~Bottom

At this moment, I know that the main part of my job is complete: I have shard my artistic vision with cast and crew. My needs have altered, finding a need to delete and add as the needs occurred, made discoveries of the great and not so great kind, and in the end: it is all about the kids.

Normal camp/school productions, they make a big thing about bringing the Director out after the kids get their curtain call. Me? I’d be happy if they just let me be. I don’t  want to come out on stage.  Let the kids get the applause they will deserve. Let the show be about them. My applause comes from what the audience will give them.

Like Bottom, I have had a most rare vision: seeing my ideas put together on stage for a show I’ve performed in a number of times, SEEN performed far more, and have loved ever since my mother sat with me and we watched the 1935 movie version (with Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Dick Powell, Joe E. Brown and Olivia De Havilland) on our black and white TV when I was a kid.

This Week:

  1. Will I have costumes? I have not seen a blessed thing yet: any costuming I’ve done, by raiding my own prop/costume trunk from The Brothers Grinn. Supposedly, I will see it all tomorrow…two days before our first show in front of a paying audience!
  2. Will I have an assistant/stage manager? Did no one but me see that asking someone who interviewed for the director’s job (which I got) to volunteer their time NOT be a disaster in the making?
  3. Will the choreographers (yes, plural) do the fine tuning needed in time for Wednesday?
  4. Will the actors remember their lines, their blocking, project their voices, stay in character and not fight with each other?
  5. Will all the tech cues happen when they’re supposed to happen? (this one is the one I have the most faith in, at the moment).
  6. Will the counselors/stage crew get their heads out of their you-know-whats and do what they are supposed to do?
  7. Will I have a voice and sanity (which is always questionable!) when Friday night has come and gone?

Next Saturday/Sunday: the wrap up of Urban Shakespeare.

How to ru(i)n a MS/HS Theater Production

These are the things I recently learned:

  1. Be defensive about every comment and suggestion made.
  2. Kiss the tushies of your favorites and let them get away with everything.
  3. Be an apologist for all misguided behavior, because you “love them.”
  4. Bring back cast members who are disruptive and never show up; throw out ones who are there and care.
  5. Never be on time yourself, but be pissy about others who aren’t.
  6. Never follow through on anything, or only do it days after it was needed.
  7. Work on the same project for two years, that should have been a few months,  and think that is a good thing.
  8. Bring in someone with years of experience, but fight them on everything.
  9. Demean what the person with experience says to the cast right after it’s said.
  10. Never attend a conference to talk.
  11. Never return a phone call or an email…then say you never get those.
  12. Write a script with the cast and then call it your own.
  13. Decide you are the director, but constantly throw it back to the professional, who you made a line coach (but was hired to be the director because it was taking two years and nothing was happening).
  14. In a four month period, revise the script seven times, and still don’t have a closing scene.
  15. Introduce characters in the beginning who are never seen again; have new characters appear out of no where in the second act, and also disappear again. (The beginning is the set up for “all” the characters, or so it was said).
  16. Hand out only scenes to the cast and get pissy when they lose said scenes.
  17. Be inconsistent.
  18. Scream like a banshee, with fire coming out of every orifice, eyes bulging, and spittle flying around.
  19. Rip a teen girl a new one and send her into a crying breakdown.
  20. Scream at the professional for doing their job and not loving “your kids” the way you do.
  21. Scream at the professional for leaving when the cast was almost two hours late for call…and then excusing the cast.
  22. Try to do everything, but then cry about all the work you have to do.
  23. Blow off four other professional theater people who try to talk to you with defensive non-listening skills.
  24. Disappear from the theater on opening night-TWICE-without telling anyone.
  25. Sit in the audience on opening night without checking anything, not saying a word to the cast, bring in another adult without talking to them about why they are there, and then take all the credit for the work done that day. And two years.

So..I did learn a lot.


I’m glad this is over. I learned a lot. Really, and there were some great kids, but…even the best were not consistent. That was a shame. Sorry for the rant, but this venting…I had to do. It was a four and a half month build up of frustrations.

Imagination First…and Always (Ultimate Blog Challenge #15)

Ultimate Blog Challenge
A to Z Blog Challenge: Tale Spinning

I’ve been thinking a lot (can be dangerous at times) about what inspires me in what I do, what other TAs (Teaching Artists) are inspired by, and our role in the here and now.  Part of this stems from yesterday’s blog Altered States.

I look at what I do, how I’m labeled (another theme of mine it seems), and how it’s either embraced or dismissed. In a business world POV, I’m all over the map and unfocused. In an artistic sense, I have a wide array of tools that I can use to share with others. I’m an Educator that uses the arts (primarily Theatre Arts, but not exclusively, as I dabble in the other three art forms when educating). I’m a Drama Specialist that is an educator. I’m a performer for entertainment and one for Arts in Education. I’m a writer, singer with a shot voice, producer, poet, puppeteer, director, Arts Administrator, Curriculum Writer, PD Facilitator, Workshop Coach… and the list can go on. And I drive those business minded folks to drink, as they just think I think and act in a wrong way:

I’m right, you’re wrong. No, I’M right, YOU’RE wrong! Sigh. Let’s accept that I don’t fit in one person’s cookie cutter world. I’m good with it. Let it be (great album) and move on, shall we?

Imagination First: Unlocking The Power of Possibility

The above book (and link to said book) is for EVERYONE who is locked inside their own heads/way they think they have to live their lives AND for the artists/arts educators out there who feel they need or want further justification for what we do.  I believe in learning by observations, exploration, interpretation, inquiry (ha..no fourth “tion” for you!), and then creation of ideas from your own imagination…and that there is no wrong idea! Might be “better” choices, but if you can work in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, and be nonjudgmental with yourself…well, who knows where you can go? The power of possibilities.

As an improv trained performer and director, I learned the first “rule” of improv: YES AND…. to build and grow. Most NOs stop you dead in your tracks, and keep you blindered through life. It leads to narrow POVs and other negative things. Who knows what amazing experience, or person, you could have encountered and made an impact on your life because along the way, you say NO.

Me..I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and sometimes feel sorry for those who look at ME askance. That’s my judgment, and it’s not pretty. See how it feels?

Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.

~Albert Einstein~

Where does your imagination take you?

I challenge you to be dreamers; I challenge you to be doers and let us make … the world even better.
Brian Schweitzer

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