Teaching Theatre, Theatre

Why and How School Theatre Must Become More Democratic: In Four Steps

Most school drama departments are not democracies. They are dictatorships.

This used to be the way every school organization functioned: the students unwaveringly followed the command of the teacher, the all-knowing, all-powerful leader of the classroom. Yet, this is not the practice most modern education theory supports, and this is no longer the way most classrooms function. Now, many teachers take a somewhat backseat role in education, considering themselves more “guides” or “facilitators” rather than singular leaders. In their place, students step up to direct their own learning, and learn about leadership and self-actualization by fulfilling a more active role than “the one who receives the knowledge the teacher imparts.”

School theatre is lagging behind in this endeavor.

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Theatre, Theatre 101 Series

Theatre 101 Series: So you Want to try Theatre? 10 Things you Should Know

The Theatre 101 Series is a set of introductory articles meant to explain theatrical concepts and situations to young actors as well as adult theatrical newcomers. View the whole series here.

Getting started in theatre takes a lot of courage.

If you’ve never performed before, you inevitably have a lot of questions about theatre. What does it take to get started? What should I know? What will I learn? The questions can become so daunting that they often prevent would-be performers from ever stepping on stage at all.

In order to help more newcomers make the transition from potential actor to first-time actor, I’m going to explain ten things everyone should know about the art of theatre.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

The 5 Most Important Learning Objectives From Every Theatre Degree Program— And how to Achieve Them Independently

A college degree simply isn’t the best choice for everyone.

I’m not in the business of discouraging anyone to go to school for theatre. I always stand in support of theatre majors. However, in education, the phrase “one size fits all” is a harmful myth. For many, a college education just doesn’t make sense. Besides the obvious (and woefully often overlooked) point that the traditional higher education setting isn’t the best learning environment for everyone, college is expensive, and theatre majors are too often reminded of the fact that all the money spent for tuition still can’t guarantee future employment.

Many agree that the degree itself  is not the most important outcome of a college education in theatre. Rather, what you receive in return for all that tuition is valuable training and professional connections. As the official degree is the only thing a traditional college path can boast over independent study and on-the-job experience, some are more suited to seek training outside of a college setting, preferably at a much lower price point.

So what exactly should one get from their theatre degree program? And how could they go about getting those without pursuing the degree at all?

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

How to Practice Show Material at Home Effectively

In my adventures (and misadventures) as a middle school musical co-director, I find the phrase “please work on this on your own time” within my top-five most said in rehearsal. As an adult involved in community theatre, the same sentence is probably within my top-five most heard phrases as well. Most performers will agree to practice at home in earnest, but often find themselves at a loss when it comes time to do so. How can we make at-home rehearsal feel as useful and efficient as rehearsal with our peers?

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Actor Life, Theatre

“Where am I Going, and Where Have I Been?”: What I Learned From Reviewing Six Years of Past Performances

I have compulsively taken audio recordings of every voice lesson I’ve had over the last four years, as well as recordings of most auditions and a handful of rehearsals. I’ve made it a habit and feel the strong need to be recording whenever I’m doing anything with my voice. Funny enough, I rarely end up listening back to these recordings– I’ve probably listened to less than a third of the entire library of recordings I’ve made with the app Voice Record Pro.

For fun I recently listened to some of the first recordings. These were from my freshman year of college, a time in which I was very insecure in my voice, and still very green in my vocal training overall. I was struck by the difference in those audios from the most recent ones! I was excited about the prospect of growth, and ended up mentioning the fact to my therapist. She was very excited with my discovery, and asked that I take it a step further.

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Actor Life, Theatre

“Don’t Take This the Wrong way, but You’ve Really Improved”

These words were spoken to me upon the completion of the singing portion of a recent audition.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ve really improved a lot since last year.”

The director said this and caught me completely off guard. A few hours later, he apologized, and caught me even more off guard. He explained that he’d meant what he said as a compliment, and hoped it hadn’t sounded rude.

My response was basically, “yeah, of course it’s a compliment, duh.”

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

Where to Grow Next: Self-Evaluation and Targeted Practice Recommendations for Performers

Do you feel like you are falling behind compared to some of your performing peers? Do you feel that you have plenty learn, but aren’t sure where to focus your energies next? It might make you feel better to know that lots of other actors and artists feel exactly the same, but that knowledge alone won’t help you become a better performer.

When you feel like you’re cornered in terms of growth and improvement, one of the best things you can do is stop and take stock of where you currently are. Self-evaluation is something most performers do on the daily already. What if we harness that often-negative energy and use it to help you grow in a positive way?

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

3 Small Things That Have a Huge Impact on Your Voice

We all know there’s no such thing as a vocal “cure all” that will instantly make you a great singer. Learning some vocal technique and theory can help you get better with practice, but these sorts of skills take time to master. Let’s say you wanted to help make yourself sound as good as possible as quickly as possible– what would you do?

Here’s three suggestions that are easy to tackle and yield clear results fast.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

The Ultimate Guide to Warming Up

I’m a bit of a warmup enthusiast. I take warming up vocally very seriously. I always feel like I get back 10 times the vocal energy I put in, and it’s so worth it. I’ve talked at some length before on this blog about how important warming up is and why everyone should do it, but I’ve never provided much actual insight into how to do it.

Part of the problem there is that warming up is a very personal process. I can’t tell you what will work best for you. In this article, I’m sharing what works best for me personally. My goal is to present many ideas that you can use and modify as you see fit.

This guide is divided into five sections: Why Warm Up, Pre-Vocalization, Beginning Phonation, Singing, and FAQs.

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