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newbie seeking HELP!!

  • 1.  newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-15-2016 09:13

    I am a brand new Theatre Teacher! 

    Let me be VERY specific.  I am a brand new English Teacher, with ABSOLUTELY NO THEATRE EXPERIENCE, that is now teaching Theatre!  I accepted my position and began teaching English, Theatre 1 & 2, as well as sponsoring my school's Drama Club the last 9 weeks of this school semester.  So I now have 9 weeks of experience... I will just say, I made it through and am looking forward to PLANNING for a successful school year in the fall. 

    My school has a great set up for theatre (black box, court yard with a small auditorium, regular auditorium, fully stocked wardrobe room and such).  Unfortunately we have had a bad run with Theatre for one reason or another.  Oh and I use a regular classroom(small) 90 minute blocks but can book our black box or auditorium when I need it... 2-Theatre 1 classes (20-28 students), 1-Theatre 2 (10 students).

    This past 9 weeks I have used the books (Stage and the School) that our school has, BYU's database and other internet resources to help me teach them something ... but I would like a solid plan for next year.  I have learned so much already and am willing to take the summer to learn what I need to.  I am volunteering at our Governor's School for the Arts, high school Theatre Camps, going to a Shakespeare in the classroom workshop and.... well that is where I am reaching out to this community.

    If anyone would mind sharing what they do for their Theatre classes!  I mean anything and everything. 

    I don't even know what the structure of a Theatre class looks like (bell ringer? structured lessons all the time? testing? exit tickets? you can see I am trying to structure like an English class here).

    I don't know what the pacing is for Theatre 1 versus Theatre 2.  I have no clue how to pick a one act for the VTLA or begin executing the practices and such.  I have no idea how much time to block for practices!  I have no idea how to help get my drama club to their goal of VTLA competition in the fall, a Shakespeare production at some point (with two other high schools in our district) and a production in the spring. 

    I have some knowledgeable students in my drama club but I need help in figuring out how to take this proverbial bull by the horns!

    THANK YOU for ANY and ALL help!!

    Charlotte Kauffman
    English & Theatre Teacher

  • 2.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-15-2016 09:31

    Well, welcome to the madhouse! LOL  We've all been there and some of us go thru it each summer!

    Let me suggest you look at Drama Teachers Academy. It's a bit pricey for some people but I have found it invaluable in helping me with my classes and I've been teaching theatre for 17 years. The Improv module is excellent.

      Play Scripts for High Schools & Middle Schools - Theatrefolk

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    Play Scripts for High Schools & Middle Schools - Theatrefolk
    Play Scripts for High Schools and Middle Schools. Free samples online.
    View this on Theatrefolk >

    Do you have a regional theatre nearby? Check in with their education program.

    Find another nearby theatre teacher to mentor you.

    I'm a workshop junkie. For next year check with your local English-Speaking Union branch and see if they sponsor the annual Shakespeare Competition. I think there is a branch in Richmond. Also, find out if they offer BUSS Scholarships (British University Summer School Scholarships). I spent 3 weeks at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, all expenses paid, and worked with the staff of The Globe. If the branch doesn't off a scholarship ask if they will recommend you and you pay for the class. Very pricey but worth it! Might be tax-deductible, too. Also, find a Shakespeare workshop sponsored by the ESU. Call the national office English-Speaking Union of the United States

    Esuus remove preview
    English-Speaking Union of the United States
    The English-Speaking Union of the United States is a network of 68 Branches throughout the country, whose members celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators and members. The ESU seeks to nurture and enhance our linguistics heritage through nationally administered programs and outreach.
    View this on Esuus >

    Hope this helps. I'll try to post more as I think of them.

    John Perry
    Drama Instructor
    Atherton High School
    Louisville KY

  • 3.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-15-2016 10:14

    Thank you!  I am attending the Teaching Shakespeare Workshop in August.  I hope to look into the Globe opportunity for next summer.  I am pursuing all of your other suggestions!  THANK YOU!

    Charlotte Kauffman
    English & Theatre Teacher
    Chesapeake VA

  • 4.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-16-2016 07:31


    Where are you in Chesapeake?  I didn't know we had any new teachers in that area--I've been trying to get a theatre job there for years.  I am in the area as well.  I'd be glad to give you any ideas or help.  I've been running programs for the last 16 years.  Feel free to email me.

    Jennifer Miguel
    Franklin VA

  • 5.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-17-2016 18:44

    I live in Chesapeake but teach in Suffolk.  They do not have the need for a full time theatre teacher so the desire is to have an English teacher willing to teach Theatre.

    Charlotte Kauffman
    English & Theatre Teacher
    Chesapeake VA

  • 6.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-17-2016 00:42

    Congratulations and welcome to the jungle!

    You may also want to check out 

    It's a site where teachers sell lesson plans & such to other teachers, so the lessons have already been tried in the classroom and it's pretty cheap. I have found some useful things there. 

    Also, make sure you get to your state Thespian festival. It's my favorite event all year. They have tons of fantastic workshops that you experience side by side with students & you can take your favorites back to your classroom.

    Jeana Whitaker
    Theatre Director
    Mesa AZ

  • 7.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-16-2016 08:31

    Wow, that's quite an undertaking! Here are a couple of thoughts to get you started. 

    1. Shakespeare: If you're up for the drive, these workshops are great! Resources | Enrichment | American Shakespeare Center

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    Resources | Enrichment | American Shakespeare Center
    View this on Americanshakespearecenter >

     They're not cheap, but there's a discount for self-funding teachers, and there's a lot of really great information and hands-on activities that you can take right back into your classroom.

    2. One-act: Think about what you want (subject matter, comedy/drama, cast size and breakdown) and start a thread there. People have a lot of really great suggestions. I always have plays to suggest if I know what someone is looking for.

    3. Books for class activities: for beginner activities and games, I like On Stage by Lisa Bany-Winters (kind of kid-ish, but the high-schoolers still enjoy the games and you can always make them more challenging) and Basic Drama Projects by Fran Averett Tanner. I also use Robert Cohen's ACTING ONE and a textbook called THEATRE: ART IN ACTION and some activities from LET THE PART PLAY YOU.

    4. Class structure: are your classes acting classes, theatre appreciation, dramatic literature, or a combination? I teach all of this in my program, so I'm happy to tell you what additional texts I use, what plays we study, and even our general topic outline. Message me with your e-mail address if you want more info.

    And good luck!!

    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA

  • 8.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-17-2016 14:07

    Hi Cassie.  Lots of great suggestions already.  I'd like to put in a plug for adding technical theatre classes to your curriculum.  

    1.  Tech classes give students who are scared to death of getting up in front of an auditorium full of people a way to learn the basics of tech work, then contribute to the performance program as technicians, designers, stage managers, and business/house management personnel.  My school had 1,400 students, and we built the curricular tech program up to 9 semester sections of technical theatre classes / year.

    2.  Students found out that they enjoyed tech theatre, and our after school performance program grew to the point we had to interview students for tech positions, because we regularly had 75-100 students apply for tech positions for each show.  

    3.  We added a children's theatre slot to the season to accommodate the growing # of performers and technicians.  We toured these productions to sub-district elementary schools, which further helped #s  when those elementary students got to the high school.

    4.  Production values got better and better, which gave the performers a boost, and the parents got even more involved in supporting the theatre program.

    5.  Students worked their way up to design positions, and their portfolios and pictures of fully realized productions really helped them when they applied for university scholarships.

    I have several hand-outs I use in workshops I'd be happy too pass on to you.  Just email me with your contact info at:

    and I'll send them as attachments to you.   I'm not sure how to send attachments through this list-serve.

    Last, there are many great instructional resources available to aid in teaching tech.  Due to administrative rules for this list-serve, I can't mention them by name here, but you may want to check EdTA's resources.

    Bob Fowler

  • 9.  RE: newbie seeking HELP!!

    Posted 06-17-2016 14:48

    Most definitely take a look at the DVD series Bob created with his lovely wife Marti.  It is an excellent teaching resource for Technical Theatre that is very Practical.  (see what I did there? ;-)

    Seriously, the Practi