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Posted By Gustave J. Weltsek,
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
In the most recent issue of Youth Theatre Journal, we started a dialogue of how pedagogy informs our practice. The conversation continues here on AATE's Community Blog, and we invite you to join in.
"Theory emanates from practice and that knowledge grows from and is reflective of social experience." -- We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, Temple University Press (1990)
So let's pick up where we left off in our journal article, Postcolonial, Postmodern, Postracial, Postqueer Positionality in a...Aw Hell, I'm Just Trying to Do Good Work: A Dialogue of Identity, Intention, and Position: Part I.
We're playing with how we use, combine and/or modify multiple pedagogical theories within the moment of "doing teaching".
How can we transform STEM to STEAM? Or more to the point how can that missing "A” can be incorporated into—and actually enhance---the teaching of other core subjects?
STEM, as we know is an initiative to emphasize SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATH in the classroom. For lovers and teachers of the arts—all manner of art—the fact that music, painting, dance, theatre—even literature—is missing from this initiative is not just an unfortunate oversight, it is troubling evidence of an attitude that pervades our culture, which is that the arts are secondary—extraneous, fluff, unimportant—while science and technology are essentials.
To believe that is to be blind to the role of the arts not just in education but in our very lives. As theatre artists, we know that the arts and humanities are vital to helping young people develop essential skills—not the least of which is the exercise of the imagination. Without the ability to envision, the scientific mind would never think past the world as it exists now in the present.
In a recent essay, Princeton University Professor Danielle Allen reminds us:
"You can’t do well in math and engineering if you can’t read proficiently, and … reading is the province of courses in literature, language and writing. Nor can you do well in science and technology if you can’t interpret images and develop effective visualizations—skills that are strengthened by courses in art and art history.”
And, I would argue, by classes in drama.
Arts and science are not mutually exclusive disciplines but rather, are all of a piece—painting and geometry, poetry and chemistry, drama and physics, dance and biology, music and calculus. All of these are expressions of our profound human capacity for inquiry, creation, inspiration and exploration.
And let us not forget that the artist, like the scientist, deals in questions. Like science, the arts takes the measure of the world around us, but unlike science, they also takes a measure of the world within us. And for this reason helps us all to become more fully human, more reflective, more open, more critical—in our thinking—more confident in our own ideas. This notion that there exists a natural and necessary separation between these fields—and that one is somehow lesser than the other—never occurred to Leonardo Da Vinci; nor to Goethe, a man of letters who was fascinated by science. Anton Chekhov would have been surprised to learn that his degree in medicine disqualified him from writing plays and short stories. We all know that John James Audubon, a pioneer in the field of ornithology, was an accomplished illustrator. Today we know him better for his paintings of birds than for his careful observations and documentations of thousands of species. Even Mark Twain was an advocate of scientific inquiry, and a champion of that most useful of inventions, the typewriter.
So we are at a strange juncture in our times. Forced to defend the arts. Forced to show the value of an essential part of human experience that a generation ago, no one thought to question. Our struggle now is to bring the arts back into the classroom and integrate them—in our particular case, theatre and drama—into the teaching of other subjects. So I was heartened to see this statement in Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards for grade 5:
Are you ready?
"Musical instruments vibrate to create sound!”
Right there it is: an invitation to any science teacher presenting a lesson in sound waves. To use a musical instrument as part of the study of force, motion, and energy—a violin, let us say—to show that pitch is the frequency of a vibrating object. A string. Or the teacher might use a series of percussion instruments to demonstrate the concept of amplitude.
I am heartened to read this because if there is room in the science classroom for violins and drums, there is certainly room for us.
And drama has much to offer in rendering science and technology accessible and vital. I know this from personal experience, having written a play, RADIUM GIRLS, about the dialpainters who were poisoned on the job in the 1920s. RADIUM GIRLS is not so much a play about science as a play about capitalism. But the discovery of radium and its commercial and medical applications is central to the story, and so the play becomes a useful study in what happens when an eager corporation—besotted by a brand new technology—ignores the warnings of the scientific community. It is really a play about the exploitation of science for commercial purposes.
You have only to open the newspaper and read about fracking in the Marcellus Shale formation to know how relevant this story is to us today—one hundred years later.
But it is important to keep in mind that in writing this play, I did not set out to teach a lesson about science. I set out to write something that I felt very passionate about. I was drawn to the story of these women and their struggle, and I was fascinated by the idea that a miracle cure—an amazing scientific discovery!—could turn out to be the agent of so much destruction.
It is important to keep in mind that while we can use drama to teach lessons about scientific discoveries or technological advancements. We have to remember that the conventions of drama bring their own demands. And first and foremost is that we tell a good story. So when we invite our students to write plays dealing with science or technology, it is critical that we FIND the story first.
And as we know, at the heart of any good story there is always a character on a quest.
Which is what makes science such a ripe area for exploration on stage…because it is all about the inquiry. So I share a few points to keep in mind as we develop these plays:
First, behind every great breakthrough or discovery are individuals who did not stop searching or questioning. These individuals encountered many barriers—whether the resistance of their peers or community, the limitations of their resources, the failures of early experiments—or their own insecurities. Consider how many times the Wright brothers flopped into the sand at Kitty Hawk before that breathtaking moment on the morning Dec. 17, 1903, when Wilbur Wright flew 800 yards into history. The history of science is full of these stories—stories of failure, persistence, and triumph. So by inviting your students to explore these stories, you are inviting them to relive these discoveries through their own eyes.
Second, in order to tell these stories, your students will have to research not just the lives of the scientists but the historical context in which these men and women worked. So to write a play about Copernicus, your students will need to know not only about the movement of heavenly bodies but also about the political power of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, and the pressure a scientist might feel to change his story if he thought his immortal soul—or his immediate survival—depended on it. So we need to be open to the idea that we might not always be writing a story of persistence and triumph. It might be a story of persistence and defeat. But whatever it is, the play about a scientist on a quest will always be about so much more than the science alone. So the play about a man who figured out that the Earth revolves around the sun, but later discounted his own discovery under pressure from religious interests, is also a play about the intersection of politics and religion, about abuse of power and the limited ability of a single individual to stand up to overt injustice, about all the forces within the life of this man that led him to his capitulation.
Three, when you invite your students to write these, you must also give them the freedom to invent. It will be inevitable that they have to invent a little if they are going to write any kind of play about historical figures. We all know the famous story of how Isaac Newton discovered gravity when he was hit on the head by an apple—probably apocryphal, but still fun. Only…how did he come to be in that orchard in the first place? And did he eat the apple? You can be sure those questions would come up, and must come up if we were to stage that story. And however your student dramatist chooses to answer those questions—or other questions—the student will have to learn a good deal about Newton to do it. And in the process, the student might stumble onto an even better story. The man who discovered gravity also invented calculus, but he had rivals in this, and they were all in a race for recognition. And that story—of exactly to what a lengths an ambitious man is willing to go to make his name as a scientist—that story has all the elements of a great play.
So this is the stuff of drama—a scientist, a quest, a reason to seek the answer. Fame? Fortune? Impress the wife? And something vitally important to lose if he (or she) should fail. And my personal sense, having written a two-hour play that draws on 10 years of history and discovery and debate—that involved dozens of medical and scientific figures—is that researching the story can be as exciting as writing it. But when it comes to write it, you must set yourself free. You cannot have a dozen doctors treating five different women; you don’t have time for that on stage. So one doctor stands in for the dozen; one dentist stands in for all the others, and one girl and her friend become the focus of the play—not the five who actually brought the lawsuit. And because I needed to show the terrible loss that this poor young woman endured, I invent a fiancé who dreams of a simple family life that is ultimately denied him because of her illness. And this creates a dramatic tension that pulls the story out of the page—out of the legal transcripts, the notations, and letters on file at the Library of Congress—and creates a relationship that the audience invests and eventually mourns when it ends.
But let me offer this caveat: Yes you can mess with timelines because you will have to, and you can invent characters and you can move a confrontation from the street to the church sanctuary if you need to. That is a dramatist’s prerogative. But my personal sense is that ultimately, you must be true to the outcome and above all, be true to the science—do not mess with the science!—and your story will ring with authenticity.
The other caveat that I would make is that the history of science lends itself to dramatization more readily than scientific principles. It is hard to write a play about gravity, much easier to write a play about the man who discovers it. But we can also write a play in which gravity is a barrier to be broken. As we know, what goes up, must come down…unless it has wings. Then it comes down when it wants to. So how does that character come to take flight? Is it Wilbur Wright? Or someone we never met before—who has figured out another way to be unbound by the forces of nature. Perhaps your students would like to tell that story. It is certainly a play I would love to.
DW Gregory recently
presented at the Richmond TIOS mini-conference. She is the chair of AATE’s playwriting network and the
author of RADIUM GIRLS and THE GOOD GIRL IS GONE, both available from Dramatic
Publishing. Check out Gregory’s blog for
ruminations and updates on this article and her plays.
It is almost March which means it is almost time for THEATRE IN OUR SCHOOLS MONTH!! This is a time of year when theatre artists and educators can proudly bring attention to the work that we do all year with young people. There are so many ways we strive to bring theatre into our schools, that is is good to step back, reflect, and celebrate!
The theme for TIOS 2013 is Fostering a Culture of Creativity. I am fortunate to have started a new job this year at a fine arts magnet school within the Chicago Public School system. This new position has made me question the nature of creativity and how we cultivate it within our students because this is honestly the most creative teaching environment in which I have ever worked. These K-8 students are fearless and passionate and imaginative. Their sense of play is celebrated and it shines through in all their work. What is it about the culture at this school? How can we maintain this commitment to creativity? Is there a way to foster a similar environment in other schools?
It is my hope that some of these questions will be addressed in AATE's TIOS 2013 programming. What questions do you have regarding creativity and the role it plays in your life? Attend one of the nine different mini-conferences being offered across the country over the next few weeks and find creative communities close to your home. Wear your show shirt on Friday, March 8th and use it as a way to bring creativity into your work place. Follow the "Tweet Treats" or get on twitter yourself and tweet about how you teach creativity to your young artists.
Whatever you do to celebrate TIOS, I hope your March is full of creativity!
Posted By Lisa Mitchell, NY TIOS Co-Chair,
Monday, February 11, 2013
There is three feet of snow on the ground, Punxsutawney Phil
didn’t see his shadow, and Beyonce blew a fuse at the Superdome… coincidence,
or premonitions of something unprecedented on the horizon?
March marks AATE’s Theatre in Our Schools month, and as part
of the festivities, preparations are underway for regional conferences around
the country. My co-chair, Nicole Lorenzetti and I, along with an esteemed
committee of dedicated theatre-educators and administrators, are hard at work
gearing up for the New
York TIOS Conference. The event, which will be held on March 4th
at Broadway’s American Airlines Theater, serves theatre education practitioners
of all stripes, and will be an opportunity for professional development,
networking, and most importantly, inspiration.
This year’s theme, "Fostering a Culture of Creativity” will
be explored through dynamic plenary and breakout sessions. We’re beyond
thrilled that the renowned Story Pirates
will be our keynote presenters— join us to discover their approaches for
developing student voice and expression. We’ve also got a panel of diverse
educators who will be sharing their experiences and goals for Universal Design
in their schools, as well as workshops exploring: Lincoln Center Institute’s
Capacities for Imaginative Learning, process drama, storytelling & early
childhood literacy, and inclusion through the arts.
It is shaping up to be an inspiring day of learning and
growth—the only thing missing is you. Register
now to take advantage of the best available rates, and come spend the day
learning and sharing on Broadway. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
Posted By Nicole Lorenzetti, AATE NY State Representative and Young Playwrights Inc,
Monday, April 16, 2012
Diary 21, a collaboration between the Anne Frank Center USA, Vineyard
Theatre, and Young Playwrights Inc., supports lessons of art, literacy, and
tolerance in the classroom.Through the program, Anne Frank’s Diary and
spirit inspire students to explore their own personal story through discussion,
playwriting, and performance.
On May 21, 2012, a house full of eager theatre-goers will settle
in for an evening of short plays.
These 20 works, however, are not your average plays—they are based on
themes from Anne Frank’s The Diary of a
Young Girl. The pieces were chosen out of approximately 215 plays submitted
from the Hostos-Lincoln Academy, Gramercy Arts High School, New York City Lab School
for Collaborative Studies, and Washington Irving High School through the Diary
In the fall, the writers from these four schools attended the
Anne Frank Center USA where they had the opportunity to
hear a Holocaust survivor who hid with her family in a barn for almost a year. Writers
then learned specifically about Anne and the Frank family and discussed the
importance of Anne’s record of her experience. Writers were then charged with
reading excerpts from the Diary as
well as the graphic novel Anne Frank: The
Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.
Following this trip to AFC, the Diary 21 writers were visited
by a workshop leader from Young Playwrights Inc. They participated in a series of
seven workshops that taught students the basics of playwriting in order for
them to write their own play. The writers focused on themes from Anne’s diary
such as first love, the feeling of injustice and misunderstanding, and conflict
resolution. In the end, each writer wrote a play and submitted their work to
the Diary 21 project competition.
20 of these plays have been chosen for performance. They were
assembled into a working script of both full plays and excerpts, and this was sent
to the Vineyard Theatre Student Acting Company who will be performing with professional
actors for the benefit performance. For many of these writers it was the first
time they had the opportunity to see their work done on a
How is this project different than any other project we do at
Young Playwrights Inc.? When we signed on to this consortium we took a
leap—focusing writing specifically on a piece of literature that speaks to many
millions across the world rather than leaving the subject matter open for the
writers. We had to choose new guiding questions for the project and for the
writers; for example, what does Anne have to say to her writing peers today in
the 21st Century? How are her experiences as a young writer similar
to those of you as a young writer today? How does Anne speak to you?
collaboration has turned out to be a success and one that we look forward to
every year. How have you taken a leap in your programming lately? How have you
stretched your vision to achieve new work? Have you considered collaborating
with others outside of your art form? What have you achieved from these
Nicole Lorenzetti is the Education Manager at Young Playwrights Inc. She is the co-chair of the New York Theatre In Our Schools conference and serves as New York State Rep with Jennifer DiBella of Roundabout Theatre Company.
Posted By Dr. John Newman, AATE Board of Directors & Utah Valley University,
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
In March, the AATE Playwriting Network administered two
Playwrights In Our Schools residencies in Utah schools, funded by Broadway Across
America-Utah. The program brings award-winning writers into schools for three
day residencies to rehearse and present a new play and to help students
understand the process of developing a new script.
This year’s selected playwrights were Brian Guehring,
Playwright in Residence at the Omaha Children’s Theatre, and Claudia Haas, a
freelance playwright from Minnesota. The selected Utah host schools were Park
City High School in Park City and Meridian School in Orem.
Brian Guehring’s adaptation of The Misfits had its premiere production at the Omaha Children’s Theatre
with an ensemble of eight professional adult actors. It received a script-in-hand
performance to a packed house in Park City High School’s Little Theater on
March 8. To make the script more producible by high school theatre programs,
Guehring expanded the cast to allow for more than 20 actors. Against the wishes of the administration,
a group of misfit students form a third political party in their school’s partisan
student-body elections. Each of
the students in the group has been bullied and taunted for different reasons,
such as their sexual orientation, weight, or economic status. In the end, they
form the "No Name Party” and while they loses the election, the school adopts
the party’s proposal to create a day without name-calling.
While the program required only a staged reading, Park City
High school director D’Arcy Benincosa and cast decided to undertake a
workshop-style, script-in hand performance. Brian was able to present new pages to the actors during
each of the three rehearsals. The
residency also included classroom visits and playwriting instruction.
Claudia Haas’ play Under
a Midsummer Moon premiered at a youth theatre in Minnesota and the revised
script received a workshop production by students at Meridian School. The play
is set in a park on the eve of the first moon walk in July 1969. Students at
Meridian researched the issues of the late sixties with which the young people
in the play are wrestling. The young characters perceive the Vietnam War as it
affects the lives of their older siblings and are divided between protesting
and supporting the war. In the
midst of the conflict, a Scottish fairy leads them on a treasure hunt and
creates a ritual of healing that brings the young people to a moment of
tolerance and understanding.
As with the Park City residency, Meridian School drama
teacher Mindy Young and her cast chose to give the play a near full production.
The cast, who varied in age from 11 to 17, performed the play in their school’s
gymnasium for the older students at the private school. They also presented a
public performance in the eXBox Theatre at Utah Valley University on March 7. The
public performance included a post-show talkback with the playwright and
displays of the set, costume, and prop design created for the script by
Meridian students. The residency
included rehearsal and classroom sessions with the playwright as well as
opportunities to hear feedback on their plays by Claudia Haas.
Playwrights interested in applying for a Playwrights in our
Schools residency next year should look for information distributed by email
next September or contact John Newman at Utah Valley University,
QUESTIONS (use comments box below):
How have other schools partnered with writers in residence
to develop new plays?
In doing staged readings with young actors, have you found
it more useful to do a traditional "music stand” reading or to do a blocked,
During new play development projects in secondary schools,
how have the students and writer interacted in formal and informal settings?
Posted By Jennifer Roberts, Education Director, Hartford Stage and CT TIOS Co-Chair,
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I came to our TIOS mini-conference with a question of my
own: what defines a real partnership
between a theater and a school? It’s a word that I hear thrown around a lot; it
seems like everything is labeled a
"partnership,” from a one-time workshop to a long-term residency that is
continued year after year. To be clear, I think that both of these, and
everything in between, if they involve people or organizations working together
to bring arts and education together, are worthwhile and good. But a "partnership?”
That seems serious.
Our exploration of working partnerships included a keynote
address by Meg Campbell, founder and Executive Director of Codman Academy in
Boston, where she works in what she calls a "remarkable” institutional
partnership with the Huntington Theatre Company. Subsequent breakout sessions
included discussions about different types of collaborations: shared work
between teachers working in different subject areas, teaching artists working
hand in hand with classroom teachers, theatre teachers supporting other theatre
teachers, and a school district working with its schools to make sure its students all have access to the arts. We
ended the day with a panel of educators and arts leaders: Jeff Partridge, who
chairs the humanities department at Capital Community College and partners with
Hartford Stage to bring the whole college community together around one play
each semester; Bill Prenetta, a theatre teacher at Ellington High School and
the President of the Connecticut Drama Association, which brings theatre
teachers and students throughout the state together; Rob Travaglini, principal
of Naylor/CCSU Leadership academy, a partnership between a Hartford public
school and a state university; and Bonnie Koba, Arts in Education Program
Manager and HOT (Higher Order Thinking) Schools Program Director at the
Connecticut Office of the Arts.
The day gave me a lot to think about as I look for ways to
deepen the partnerships that we’re in, and to begin new ones. These are some of
the things that I left thinking about, and have been thinking about ever since:
A partnership is a reciprocal relationship and should make
sense to both sides, with the work rooted in the shared goals and compatible
missions of each organization. We can work with lots of organizations, but we
should choose our partners wisely.
Partners should be interdependent upon one another; the
workload balanced, one not giving (or taking) more than the other. For a
partnership to be sustainable, it must be built on something other than finances.
In a true partnership – I love this one – organizations
"borrow culture” from one another. I can go into a school and know how to be a
part of that world; students come here and understand how they are a part of
ours. This also suggests that theaters and schools (or any partnered
organizations) need each other: that the theater fills a missing piece of
school culture, and that students fill a missing piece of a theater’s culture.
Lasting partnerships can be long-term, but they shouldn’t be
forced to stay the same. Meg Campbell suggests that the Codman and the
Huntington review their agreement every two years to address the changing needs
of the partners.
The day confirmed what I knew to be true: partnerships are serious business. And done well,
they can be an extremely powerful force in the lives of students. I left the
day’s conversations feeling inspired to use this criteria to create new
partnerships and renew existing ones, but I know this list is just a beginning.
What characteristics do you see in
strong partnerships? What practical steps can we take to get there?
Jennifer Roberts is in her fifth season at Hartford Stage, having
previously held the position of Education Associate for Literary and In-School
Programs. Before coming to Hartford Stage, she worked as the Resident Teaching
Artist at George Street Playhouse and served as the Artistic Director of the
Papermill Children’s Theatre in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Her work as a director
and playwright has been recognized by the Austin Circle of Theatres and the
American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Her essay on the future of theatre
and education, "Changing the How”, was published in the November 2008 issue of
TCG’s American Theatre magazine. She received a Masters degree of Fine Arts in
Drama and Theatre for Youth from the University of Texas at Austin.
Posted By Nicole Lorenzetti, AATE NY State Representative,
Thursday, March 15, 2012
The 2012 New York Theatre In Our Schools conference is fast
approaching—Monday, April 2 will be here before we know it. We are so excited
about our program this year, and we hope our event can live up to years past.
Our goal with the New York TIOS conference has been to
provide our attendees with a toolbox that they can put into practice
immediately in their work. I, with my co-chairs Jennifer DiBella and Lisa
Mitchell are working hard with our amazing committee to create the most interactive,
meaningful, and refreshing day possible.
The New York TIOS serves as a mid-year
"refresher"; a time for those in our state to convene, reenergize,
and learn from their colleagues in their area and head back into the office or
classroom with new ideas. New York can sometimes be a very isolating place, and
one can go months without meeting those in the same field. The event serves New
York State teachers of all stripes, but particularly theatre, humanities, and
English teachers as well as teaching artists and theatre administrators from
Education departments and more.
We have three breakout sessions to announce at this time,
all of which will be amazing. We have Robyn Burland with Creating Living Newspapers, Darrin L.
Pearson and Tracy Cook-Pearson with Decoding
the Bard, and Alex Sarian with Engaging
with Teens: Embracing a Controversial Partnership. Each of these sessions brings a fresh
eye to the question, "How can we engage our communities using theatre?” A
community can be an afterschool program, an in-school workshop, or a
partnership with a non-school related organization. Communities may include
persons as young as small children—and they may include persons as young as
Detailed descriptions of these sessions can be found on the
New York TIOS webpage,
so head over there, read up on the programming (with more to come!), let your
excitement build, and get registered.
We have more programming to announce in the coming weeks,
but we would also like to hear from you.
What would you like to see at
a TIOS conference? What kind of breakout session would get your juices flowing?
What are the biggest issues surrounding "Creating Communities, Engaging Minds”
that you would like to discuss?
See you on April 2 at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American
Nicole Lorenzetti is the Education Manager at Young Playwrights Inc. She is the co-chair of the New York Theatre In Our Schools conference and serves as New York State Rep with Jennifer DiBella of Roundabout Theatre Company.
Posted By Bethany Lynn Corey, AATE Network Chair; MFA Candidate, University of Texas, Austin,
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
into my first day of class for Latino TYA I glanced around to see 16 diverse
individuals. The rest of the room featured undergraduates with a range of
majors, Spanish language skills, background stories and ethnicities. I was the
only graduate student taking the class, I was white and I spoke almost no
Spanish. As we introduced ourselves I began to feel the pressure of the labels
I would wear in this classroom.
doubts about the class mounted during our first class discussion, I felt the
need to be really articulate as I was the only graduate student in the class
and fumbled pronouncing some Spanish. I wanted to be in the class but it made
me feel stupid, I worried I was making the graduate program look bad when I
wasn’t well spoken. I worried that everyone was judging me for not being more
informed on Latino culture, that the rest of the class wondered why I was even
there. The real problem was that this first day the other students were all
They had nothing to judge me on other then what they knew-
that I was a white female graduate student who didn’t speak Spanish. They were
undergraduates, mostly Latino and mostly Spanish-speaking. All we could see was
that we were different.
Over the next few weeks we split class time
between drama games, discussion groups and reading/writing assignments. While
to many on the outside the amount of time spent ‘playing’ may have seemed
excessive for a University class, Professor Roxanne-Schroeder-Arce dedicated
the first part of class everyday to theatre games. Through theatre games we
learned each other’s names, we found things we had in common, we laughed and
We began to trust one another and build a community. Although I’d
played most of the games before and had even used them in my own teaching this
was the first time I saw a group transformed the way our Latino TYA class was.
This group of students who had barely known each other grew to share details of
their lives and debate passionately and respectfully on issues related to
Latino culture and TYA. At the end of the semester when the class broke into
ensembles for a performance assignment everyone was ready to work
collaboratively creating some amazing pieces.
As I look back on the Latino TYA class I
recognize how essential it was to build a community in that classroom. We never
could have accomplished such a high level of work in the performance project or
had the depth of discussion around sensitive subjects had we not taken the time
to get to know each other and trust one another. As I think about how I felt
the first day of class, being labeled for what
I was instead of who I was I think
about how many students must feel this way in school all the time. I think
about the labels placed on children because of their family, their race, their
ability or their test scores.
I recognize how many students go through school,
particularly as they enter high school and college, without their teachers or
classmates ever knowing who they are. Reminding me about the importance of
creating a classroom community with students of all ages. Thinking about my
experience in Latino TYA I hope that as I can find ways to use drama to create
community in more classrooms. How are you creating community in yours?
Corey is a second year MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin where
much of her current research surrounds Theatre for the Very Young. She has
worked nationally and internationally as an actress, director, and teaching
artist. She currently serves as co-chair for AATE’s International Network
Posted By Betsy Williams, Programming Director, Regional, AATE Board of Directors,
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
With March only a few days away, I encourage you to think
about how you will celebrate Theatre in our Schools month. Yes, in case you
didn’t know, March is officially Theatre in our Schools (TIOS) month, a program
implemented by AATE to support, promote, publicize, and honor the wide range of
theatrical work going on in our schools.
If you have never participated in any of the TIOS events,
then this year, I challenge you to experiment with at least one. Attend a TIOS mini-conference
in your area and take the opportunity to network with and learn from other
theatre professionals (12 are happening across the country this year!). Pick an
item listed on AATE’s 25 Ways to Celebrate Theatre in our Schools poster and
act on it. Participate in Play Daze on Facebook and help write a new play each
day for the entire month. And the easiest way for everyone to participate...the
annual Wear Your Show Shirt Day is March 9th. How many show shirts do you have in your closets and
drawers? Well, take this
opportunity to wear one from your collection with pride! Check out these
details and more on AATE’s Theatre in our Schools website (http://www.aate.com/tios).
As for me, I plan to celebrate TIOS by wearing my "Celebrate
Theatre in our Schools” button every day in March, by attending the Illinois
mini-conference organized by AATE and the Illinois Theatre Association on March
10th, and finally, by having my school’s annual 8th grade
play perform the weekend of March 15th. We used to perform towards
the end of the school year, but when the opportunity arose to change the
performance dates, I immediately suggested March thinking what a great way to
celebrate theatre in our schools by actually having theatre take place in my
school! With less than a month until we go up, the cast and crew are getting
excited to perform for their friends and families, and I’m excited to see the
whole show come together. This year’s group of 8th graders have
really stepped up and worked together in such a thoughtful and supportive way.
I know that when the curtain goes down on our final performance, they will have
made memories that will last a lifetime.
So how are you going to celebrate TIOS 2012? I look forward
to hearing your stories and ideas!
Betsy Driver Williamscurrently teaches drama to grades 1-8 at Oak Grove School in Green Oaks, Illinois. She has served terms as the Illinois State Representative for the AATE and as the Children’s Theatre Representative for the Illinois Theatre Association.While holding both positions, she helped develop the Theatre In Our Schools Month Conference model and successfully co-chaired the first and second TIOS conferences in Illinois.Betsy has presented her work at state and national conferences including AATE’s Annual Conferences, the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, the Arizona State University Language and Literacy Conference, and the Arizona Thespian Festival.Betsy holds a BS in Theatre from Northwestern University and an MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University.She is currently the Director of Regional Programming for AATE.