Putting together a touring high school show
Welcome. To the drama, teacher podcast, brought to you by theatrefolk. The drama teacher resource, company, i'm lindsay price hello. I hope, you're well thanks. For listening. And. You, can find any links to this episode in, the show notes which are at theatrefolk.com. Forward, slash 2 1, 1, all, right I love. Starting with questions I have so many questions for you and. Then it becomes like interactive. You can answer I can't hear you but why is it yes yes I can of course I can I always, hear you so. Do, you have an advanced, theater class are you, looking, for a new challenge. What. About a touring show can. You imagine putting, that together with, your students, oh yes. No, never. Maybe. Well. Our guest today did just, that and, you. Lucky, you get to find out all the successes, and struggles, of this fabulous project, so, let's get to it I'll see you on the other side. Everyone. Price. Here from theatrefolk. Thanks, for joining me I am talking, with drama. Teacher Mike, Yoast inhaler. Mike hello. So. Tell everybody where in the world you are sure. I'm in Scott, away New Jersey so that's like central, area of New Jersey like about an hour outside of New York very. Cool very cool and how long have you been a drama teacher this is my third year third. Year okay. So what was it about teaching, what drew you to teaching. Drama, sure, so like I mean I grew up being. Such, like the biggest theatre kid like ever and. I, actually I went to school for acting, so I went to school in New, York for that and then, after, I lived there for four years I came back to. New Jersey, and I ended up working at a school for students with multiple, disabilities, as. Like an aide and. It, was a school that I've worked at in the past and. I ended up having a full. Year, job, there and like through my time at, that school I realized like. Hey. I think teaching is a really cool thing to do and I. Really enjoy it so I decided to like combine my two passions and. I, went back to school got my like theater IDI. Certifications. And started. Teaching high. School yeah, yeah, and now you've been at the same school I started. Yeah. Yeah yeah high school cool. But, it's a very it's a very specific shift, day like to go for I want to be a performer. To, you I, want. To be, in the classroom what do you think it is about being in the classroom that. That's. The thing that. Well. I I, mean I loved my high school theatre days like I thought I like back on it so, passionately, and like I just. Think it was so much fun and I once, I started delving. Into like the teaching, I realized, like how cool it was to. Expose. Kids, to. Theater for the first time or at least or even like develop their skills if they were like, the quote-unquote like buter kids like from birth like I was and. Just. To see them grow and develop and. Like, find, a new passion or, just find like a. Place. Where they can grow more confident, so that that's what I really, love about teaching theatre okay. You've been doing it for three years now what's one, thing that. Has. Sort of was. Pretty unexpected, about. Teaching that they didn't really, prepare. You, for when. You went to school. Unless. You have an amazing teacher unless you had an amazing school. Everything. I guess, like what was like the biggest. How. Do I say it like an obstacle, so that's like starting, teaching.
Was That not every. Kid is, like, super, passionate about. What. I'm teaching or, what we're doing in class and like my. First year specifically. Because. When. I came into my position the. Theater. Classes. Moved. To the visual and performing arts department so, they were like taught. By an English teacher prior so. Like there was like all these new classes, that they could take and like so these kids got placed, into the class or some of them took them but some of them were totally not into. What we were doing so like kind of finding, that, balance of, like of. Teaching. Theatre but also trying to make it very like relevant for them too, so like I think for, the kids that weren't super, like on the, Broadway or film track, you know so that, I found that challenge and when I first started well, it's so funny cause like I, think, everybody. Loves theater. And. Like, they just want to like sing in the halls it's, like I, just, and I don't need I'm not even in the classroom full-time, I just go in like you know to do, you a little bit of a little bit of play around a little bit of this a little bit of workshopping and I'm always like what. Do you mean you, don't want to be here. That. Was like really baffling, at the beginning I was like. There's. So many other things for you to take, like. You know a lot of them stuck it out and I think by. The end of the year if I always say to them I'm like if you can be like a little bit more confident, leaving this classroom then I did my job and like that's really what I focus on when when. I get a student that really doesn't love. Theatre the way I do absolutely like, I mean that's really, the the thing is you, know the the stare there are a multitude. Of skills that, they can that, they can take if they choose to that they can take away from right laughs okay. So, we're here today, because we are talking about that you have had a very specific. Experience. With your advanced drama class which i think is awesome. Thing, to talk about. And. You. Used one of our plays which is awesome right bright. Blue mailbox suicide, note, which the link is in the description. But. You took, your advanced class and you, toured. With. A show so, talk about that decision, first like how did that come into, okay. So I, guess. To back up a little bit of my history at this school but so, I started, I had two classes they. Were supposed to be like a level one and a level two but again, like I just spoke about when, I first came in there was no really level one or level two, so, it, took. Me two of my first few years to kind of try to get that built to a level one level two and, then finally, at, the end of last year was like I think we're ready for a, level three at this plane so um so, I named the class theatre production, workshop, and it was kind of like my advanced theater students, and I wanted a lot of the them, wanted, to, pursue. Acting or, go to school for it so I wanted the first half of the year to be this like audition, unit like preparing for like college auditions, and stuff but I also wanted to be very production, oriented so that's where the thought. Of doing the touring, production, came, in, and. Also like I've observed it in like other districts, like when I was doing my student teaching and seven it's all and going like, the success that it was in those district so I really wanted to make that part of my program, here at the high school as well I think that is well you know if you're talking about what, how, are you going to.
Advance. Right, you know what is the what is the pinnacle of theater well it's performing, right you. Know and I, touring. Is such a unique, animal like, there's. So. Many there's so many moving parts and there's so many. Different. Aspects, so we're gonna go through them all so let's start with choosing the show how did you did, you choose the show did your students help, you choose the show what were your elements, when you needed to choose the show to tour okay. So, how. Did I choose the show though I started with one we started with an audition unit, at the beginning of the year and I had them do monologues, and so and so forth so, I kind of could see like where my talent, level was and like what they felt comfortable with through, the. Monologues they just perform and like their work ethic through, that entire. Audition. Unit, process, and then what, I ended up doing was I gave the, kids a. A sir. Which, like I took from. The. Course. That you, guys offer on GTA so I like adapt stick around teacher, Academy yes yes. Survey yep. So. I ended up taking that survey and I adapted, it a little bit I wanted to see like which kids were interested in definitely, performing, in the show who, wanted, to take like a production, role in it or who really wouldn't mind. Doing. Both, okay, or like didn't care, either way which what they what they wanted to do so. They 14 kids in the class most, of them wanted, to be, in the show so I knew I needed to pick like a larger. Like. I mean I mean there's only 14 kids that's not a lot of kids that I we needed a lot of roles, so. I also so I started looking through GTA, for that and then, and. Then I also, is really important, to me especially this is the first year that. That. My, high school students would feel very comfortable, and, confident, with the, material, that they were. Producing. And putting on but I also appropriate. For the audiences, that we were going to be performing, for so. With my supervisor, we, decided that the eighth grade students, in our district, would be like the best audience, for. Us and so, I knew we were had an eighth grade audience and you've had high school actors and then when I came upon bright. Blue I just felt like it was a perfect. Relevant. Play, that both audience. And actors, were going to like enjoy watching, and perform at I'll bet you that um because like not only do you have to think about the. Who's. Your audience who. Are your actors but, the the, transportation. Aspect, like that you, know the the the. Set you can't have a. Beautiful. Set in a touring show no yeah definitely not I mean I knew, it has to be simple and I'm like not the best like techy drama.
Teacher Either so, I knew, that what. We needed to work with like tech wise and sat wise needed, to be fairly. Simple and. So reading bright blue I knew, that we could do that with boxes, and we could do that with tables, and, little, prop, and things here and there and, also I knew everything had to go on a big yellow school bus to get us around - with all of us on it so yeah that definitely played into, what, we could produce I spent six years in, touring. Theatre some, children's, theater some other theater, and at. Year, one we had all these ideas about how oh sure, we can just like we can do everything and it'll be in a set the last year it was literally a folding. Chair. Yeah. Unload, and load loading, and unloading I, think is the some, of the most, trying. You get really good at Tetris cuz you got to figure. Well. Number one anything, that the kids can do make, sure the kids do. Very. Cool okay so minimal. Set. And. Flexible. For your actors, you. Know who your audience is, so. How, long did you how, long did you rehearse what, was your what was that process like for you so. I ended up picking the play like early November, and, then, we, ended up working. Like, starting rehearsals, on the play mid November, it was kind of like pretty fast and. Then we performed. February. The very beginning of February like the first second, so it was fairly quick, and I think that's one of my things like, for next year that it needs to be a little bit longer the process, because I felt like we did run, out of time towards, the end right. There's nothing like a like, a looming. Production. Particular particularly. I would say eighth grade I think eighth grade middle, schoolers they might be the the toughest audience but. Okay. The process, the procedures, of touring. So. How. Did you did you guys did you divide up the tasks, like did, were, there weather was there routine, to, getting. Did you practice a routine to here's how we're going to load here's how we're going to set up here's.
How What we're gonna do when we get to the school is that, something that you did beforehand, or was it trial and error so. I kind, of wish we had time to do something like that but it kinda was trial and error once we actually got on the. Road I mean, the way I like to back up a little bit like the way that, because. Most of the kids in the class were also performing, in the play we. Did they did pull like double duties or like the kid playing jig was also, the costume, head of the costume, department, and the, girl playing Karen, it was the scenic department so like everybody had like jobs. In. Terms, of like production, so they were like responsible, of like carrying, things or making sure things were in order when we got like, we're about to load or unload the, bus but, for the most part it was just like somebody grabs something make, sure everything's on the bus make, sure everything's, there make sure everybody, is there, that's supposed to be there and like move on to the next school but I think next, year we probably I would like to kind of like rehearse, like the load and load out because it I feel, like it did get a little messy, at some times yeah. It's there I think the routine of it is it's almost a part of your show you. Know and, then if you want if you want to get you can cuz you can even get into discussing. With your students, about the. The. Not the presentation you make the the, your. First impression the impression that you make, particularly. With a touring, show because, you are actually your show actually kind of starts the instant you walk into the middle school and the, teachers that you talk to or the principal that you talk to and and what, is the or what. Impression. Are you giving when you're setting, up or you're you're loading down like that's something that's an interesting thing to discuss. I think yeah definitely, and, I because, this was like the first year we were doing this and this is the first group of kids that were had the opportunity, to put something on like I made that very clear at, the beginning I was like we need to make a good impression because I think this is something that could. Continue, year after year after year and. Not. That if everything went wrong it wouldn't happen but, I really wanted them to, understand. The. The. Power, of what we were doing not in terms of you in the play but in terms of like this, tradition. That could continue, year. After year well, I mean just. Think of it like you know places like you guys you're an hour from New York so maybe it's not, the same but, there's lots of places where middle school students have no, access, to theater, then they don't get to have a theater come to their ship to their school I have a very clear memory of being in elementary school and seeing a live performance, like in my gym and I. Don't think that is that's not a that's, not something. That happens I think very, often anymore so. Like yeah, you know so that, is a what, a great possibility, to. Make it an ongoing thing. Yeah. Cool, okay so. I had, another question I forgot this question now I'm gonna go back do. You think, because. You had your. Students pulling double-duty where they were acting, and also, doing something on the production side how did that. Fit. For them was it was, it a lot of was it overwhelming. Or do you think they handled it well it was challenging. I think at times I, think. And. I think it's also in the way that like I planned, everything and, I mean I think I did a good job but at the same time I think there's definitely room for improvement in years to come I what I ended, up doing was when. We made the rehearsal schedule I sat down with the kids that were on our stage management, team, and we, created a rehearsal schedule and I made sure that they included. Like. Production, days we would stop rehearsing the script and on this day we were you would work in your departments.
And Do what needed to be done and I kind of gave them like a production. Like. Checklist, of like what each department, should do and like what the due dates would be what I think worked for, the first like, month of, rehearsal. And then, when, we started to get closer to the performance. In. There they everybody ended, up really, wanting to work on the script and work. On their characters, and the teamwork and stuff and so we and I kind of felt that way too, and so we we. Kind of moved away from production. And then we reversed the, show and then. Probably. Like the finishing, touches of the, set. And the finishing touches like. Program and stuff like that kind of fell on my shoulders, like all my free periods, during the day which, I kind of thought. That might happen especially. The first year so I think next, year and years to come like. Definitely. Bring. More time into the rehearsal process, and, to. Like. Schedule, more of those production, days and make sure like the kids are fully getting that experience, in their like production. Department, because. They got a really good start with it but I kind of think the end like, theirs allow well, again as that as that production. Is that performance. Comes closer you know yeah yeah I can really I'm sure I'm sure they're. Coming from okay. What was it like for them to tour. A show, to like get on the bus, unload. Do, a show get back on the bus doing the show well what how did you what, did you observe from, your students I think they loved it after. The whole. Process was over we kind, of had like a reflection. And they one. Of the students, she was like III had, a great time I really felt like I was busy, I felt like I was important, I felt like it's like okay get on get. On the bus unload. The bus set. Up for the show do the show that, take. Everything back off the bat I'm sorry take everything off the stage put it back on the bus go to a new school and do it all over again like I think they really enjoyed the. Experience. A. Lot and, it's something that again, they've never had. The opportunity to, do before and I thought of it and I think they also thought it was very cool because they. Were performing at their old middle schools like we have three middle. Schools in the, district. So each, school I had some kids from. That were like alumni, of that school so I think they felt very proud to, perform, on the stage that they did in middle school as well so I think overall it was like a good. Experience, I think they all enjoyed, it and they also enjoyed being out of school and like being in theater all day. I'm. Sure I'm sure there, were there any because. This can happen because it's a because it's it's a little bit stressful were there any interpersonal. Problems. That came up yeah, when they were in the in the process of trying to put the show on and traveling. With the show. You just me you mean like in like conflicts, between the kids. Yeah. I mean I think we were I mean, I was so lucky I mean I said this to them at the beginning of the air I'm like so lucky to start this class and this process with this group of 14. Kids they were no good eggs and like I had them in my other classes like in either two years or one year previously, and. These. Were the top kids, of each class so like I was very lucky and that sense, however, I mean there were times where some kids I guess, one particular. Student would. Didn't necessarily want to work with their production, team or like had too many ideas and. Didn't. Necessarily communicate. Those ideas in, the, best way so some, students did, get annoyed, at times, but, I think that's also part of, the process, of like working, with people, that, might have different work habits than, you and I for, the most part I tried to, let.
Them Kind. Of handle it unless. Like of course it. Came to a point where they could him that I stepped in but it really it really wasn't bad at all so just to give a sense, of. For. Other teachers who might be doing this what. Was. The what. Was your budget for this and then. Because. I know you you, charge the schools to, to. Have the to, bring in the show right cuz you make well well. Okay. So. I actually am very fortunate that we were able to get like the rights of the play just through my like yearly budget that I get for my classes, and so. So. We raised. Well. No we didn't raise we just so we paid for the licensing, and everything, before. Like in terms of like, costuming. The kids use their own clothes, because it was I, mean, the show warrants, that and then. For. In terms of some scenery we use stuff that we had in stock here but we also made like, flats that I had, material. Like out of foam board. That. I had material, from a previous, year, from doing something else so for, the first year we, I, kind, of just used that we had and, you and just use the money in the that. I had leftover in my yearly budget to just get, all the like the licensing, for the show you made it part of your you made it part of your what, what, you had available to you correct yeah yeah. Cool. And then because, you rent but then you raised money as well because you yeah we did yeah so, we so, we did, three shows at, the middle school well one show at each middle school and then we did do one performance, here at the high, school and, again. Because I didn't, need to spend. Any of my own money or we, didn't I didn't have to spend any of like after-school. Theatre, activities money, for. The play because we just used my my. Budget like I said we. Ended up just having a suggested, donation for. The high school performance, and we ended up donating all, of it to a foundation. For suicide prevention. So we've raised like over five hundred dollars which was pretty awesome and I think it made. The. Kids really proud that not only they were putting on like. A work of entertainment, and theater but like it was for a greater purpose other, than just. What. They were doing on that stage so, that's. What we did this year and may change in, the future because they I feel. Like we, possibly, could charge, ticket, prices. Like. For for, our high school performance, and then donate some, of the money to a foundation but, this. Year we just donated, everything sure when, you're starting out right you know just just get the show done, as. We're as we're wrapping it you talked about a couple of challenges more. Time. And. What. Can you think of a couple other things you would like to change for. The. Next time that you do this totally. Yeah so I think, to. Reiterate more, time I think I would start at least two to three weeks earlier. Than I did. This. Year I think. The second challenge was that, the, kids did pull double duty like, every, if even, if they didn't receive a, role, and the play they were under, studying a role in the play so like they were everybody. Was playing after and, production, and. I think in the future I would try to have. Some kids not be, part. Of the cat and only focus on production, and. I, guess it's gonna depend by group by group that. I get each year but I definitely, try to separate, it, it.
Was Weird like the two biggest things that I feel like I. Definitely. Want to change next year and then also just continuing. Like the production, process. Further into. The. Preparing, for the show like not have it stop at some point and just focus, on the acting, like I want to I want them to be production, or focused, all the way through because I think that's like one of the main lessons of the. Toy well I'm putting on a show you know that it's not just, the acting it's the it's the whole. Okay. What, would be for somebody who's, watching or listening, one. Piece of advice that you would give a teacher for, putting. Together a touring show I would say pick. A show that you know before. You even start a cast that you could successfully. Put. On I felt, very confident, when choosing this play knowing, the group of actors that I had and doing my capabilities. As a teacher and a director of what. I could do so. And, just. Know like if there's gonna be bumps along the road and something and a show that also can like adapt to each space, like each, middle. School, had. An auditorium. But every school was a little bit different like we like, not always, did, our. Set pieces fit behind the stage even, though they weren't huge, things but it just it just doesn't happen so we'd had to adjust right before the show. So. Yeah. I would take to choose a play that you know you're gonna be successful. With, like at the end of this, whole process I think, adaptability, is the huge thing for, for. Touring theatre especially if, you're going to a whole bunch of different spaces, like like. You just you just never. Know like, you know you could be in it in the gym for. One show and then in a nice theater or another yeah. Oh. This. Has been lovely thank, you so much Mike for for. Chatting, with me, and. Thank you so much for sharing your insight, on this really, unique and absolutely. Doable project, for an advanced theater class thank. You so much it's been a pleasure thank you. Thank. You Mike, before. We go let's, do some theatrefolk news. It's, play feature its play feature it's time to feature a play. Let. Me tell, you about the play, Mike, referenced. Referred to in our conversation. The bright blue, mailbox suicide, note. This, is one of my plays and it. Explores, how, a group, of teenagers, publicly. And privately deal, with the issue of suicide. Jake, the main character he finds, a suicide, note in his mailbox. He doesn't know who it's from or. To. Whom it is addressed his. Friends speculate, joke, lose. Interest, while, Jake becomes obsessed, he goes on a crusade, to find the author of the note and instead. He stumbles on a secret, he never wanted to know so. Bright blue is uh it's. It's, honest, it's. Very straightforward, and also. And this is so important, to me has, humor. Issue. Plays, that are steeped, in misery only, make an audience miserable. And I have seen so many of these and that is not the intention of an issue play the intention. Of an issue play should, be to have the audience, reflect. On the issue and if they are miserable. Whether, because the person on stage is so, sad, or so. Angry, or so. Miserable. In. Their in in whatever pain, they're going. Through they. Turn away from, what they're watching we always must remember that an issue play, is a play, and that means the goal of the play is to communicate, and sometimes humor, is the best way in a drama to communicate, and. That's why I also my biggest piece of advice when, producing, a play on a. Hunt, it's a very serious or sad subject, is not to play the sad let. The story stand, without, the additional. Layer now doesn't mean you're unemotional. But. You, always want to communicate, and, also make sure that your actors are not. Overwhelmed. To. The point where they can't communicate so. That's the bright blue mailbox suicide note, you can go to theatrefolk.com to. Read free sample pages or click the link in the show notes theatrefolk.com. Ford, slash episode, two one one finally. Where can you find this podcast go, to theatrefolk.com for. It slash podcast, and there you will see we are on itunes, android, google play stitcher and more that's, theatrefolk.com, for. It slash podcast, and that's, what we're going to end take, care of my friends, take care.