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As we head into the month of October, Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat (TOTS-EAT) registrations are arriving at the National Office and troupes around the country are beginning their collection efforts. With the October 15 deadline for registration quickly approaching, I have received a flurry of emails requesting information regarding the ultimate destination of the canned goods students will be gathering.

One of the many great things about the TOTS-EAT campaign is that, while the campaign itself is nationwide, students have the opportunity to connect directly with the organizations they are contributing to, as each troupe chooses a local organization to be the recipient of their collected food items. In an effort to spread awareness and promote these organizations and the incredible work they do, this month will debut the new blog series “TOTS-EAT: Food Banks Across America.” Every few weeks I will be interviewing representatives of food collection organizations around the country.

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The ITO take on New York!
From the Laguardia Airport to Time Square, the hustle and bustle of New York was all around. Taxi drivers honking for no good reason and every person with a one track mind. If you wanted to get ran into and nudged by strangers, this was the place to be. Aside from all of that, the scenery and vibrations of the big city filled my heart with inspiration and a certain passion to make it back there one day. Working with Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS was the best! The ITO, alone, helped to raise just under 3,500 dollars at the Broadway Cares Annual Flea Market. The people who dedicate their time to this amazing fundraising community are phenomenal and I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to work with them. The other ITO and I had a blast! We were fortunate enough to see three shows on Broadway, which were Pippin, The Country House and Matilda. Our touristy adventures brought us closer than ever and I'm extremely excited to see what we accomplish this year.
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Last weekend, I hopped off the train, grabbed my bags and roamed the streets of New York to meet up with my student leadership team. And I had an absolute blast!

Our first day there we went to the Broadway Cares office and talked with Joe Norton about the full extent of Broadway Cares. They do a lot more things than I though of at first. Although the name does say Broadway Cares/Equity fights aids, they also have a bunch of charity events (such as Broadway Bares, and various one time cabaret events) and the Broadway Green Alliance where they focus on being environmentally friendly and recycling. 
Afterwards, we met with Alex Sarian, and we discussed what advocacy really is. We talked about how it isn't just telling a story, but rather telling the story. In this case, it's telling the story of how being involved in theatre has affected not only my life, but how theatre has affected those around me. On top of that, I learned that theatre students are usually the students with higher grades and better SAT/ACT scores, and administrators and educators like hearing that kind of information. However, whenever I advocate, I must always be careful about who I'm talking to and how I'm talking about the topic, because if anything is said the wrong way, it could end up hurting me instead.  
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It has officially been nine months since I have been involved in a musical or show. Nine. Months. I am initially a very busy person and when I do not have a show occupying my time, I tend to slump into a funk. Like a bad funk. But for the first time, in a very long time I believe, I was brought out of this funk by something that didn't involve me belting as loud as I could on a stage. Last week, my ITO's and I traveled to New York City TOGETHER and advocated about the arts as well as working the Broadway Flea Market. From back stage tours to meetings with very distinguished individuals, I can not possibly think of a better weekend. I started my journey by meeting up with Dany and having to call a car to pick us up, which is more difficult in practice.

soon as we reached the hotel, we left our bag with the luggage man and we were off to pour first meeting. Soon we had a 15 minute break at the hotel, and then we were off to see Pippin with my boyfriend, KYLE DEAN MASSEY (Kyle is not actually my boyfriend, I just find him very attractive). And so the scheduled stay at that pace the next couple days. It's so interesting because we were all working so hard with little to no downtime, but it does't feel like work. The thing I appreciate the most about my fellow ITO's is that I don't feel like I'm ever fighting to get my voice heard or debating over decisions. Things just flow, it's a conversation, and by the time the conversation is done we've produced two different kinds of workshops. And just as easily we can leave the room and laugh about a little girl calling pigeons chickens for hours. I'm so thankful for moments like this. I'm so thankful that we were able to work the Broadway Flea Market and I can hear things like, "We've been looking for this for years." Or see a little girl over joyed after we sold her a Matilda Script. But my favorite phrase I heard that day was, "I was a Thespian!" HOLY. COW. THERE ARE A LOT OF THESPIANS OUT THERE. We gave away literally every thespian Alumni button we had and it just really puts into perspective how large this organization is, how many people it has reached, and how much it has helped them on their path to adulthood. 

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N-ever lose track of your fellow ITO or advisers while walking the streets.
Y-ou are the luckiest person to have these opportunities.
C-are a lot if you want others to care at all.

Just three of the many things this past weekend taught me.

Friday started around 2:45 in the morning Iowa time and ended around midnight New York time. What happened in between?
Lunch at John's Pizza (the best), a meeting with Alex Sarian
(go check out his TedTalk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56GBnm3zdzg), a grand tour of Lincoln Center complete with a spotting of John Lithgow, my first subway ride, and admiration of incredible theaters, and lovely dinner with the ITO board and advisers.

The evening ending with PiPPiN--my favorite, and most recently performed, musical. Following the show we got to go ONSTAGE (I know, I know, crazy) and meet Kyle Dean Massey and Rachel Bay Jones, both who are proud thespian alum. Left me speechless.

 
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I hope New York City is recovering from the storm the ITO brought this weekend! We went in and had a WONDERFUL time.


The first day started off with working at the Broadway Cares office with Joe Norton and staff explained to us, more in depth, what Broadway Cares is and what it supports! They keep up great functions and events during the year. Believe me when I say they are BEYOND interesting *cough cough* Broadway Bares *cough cough*.

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This past weekend was a weekend of firsts: my first trip as an International Thespian Officer, first time in New York City, my first Broadway show, and most importantly my first Broadway Cares Flea Market. And they won’t be my lasts.

The weekend began early Friday morning when I flew into the Big Apple and met up with the five other ITO, Scott Wilson, and Diane Carr in our Times Square hotel. Times Square in itself embodies the hustle bustle of America. Large billboards, bright lights, and various street performers became my morning commute for the next two days. On Friday the ITO learned a little more about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS from Joe Norton and Jason Daunter. BC/EFA raises $12-13 million dollars every year, and have been working with the International Thespian Society since 1999.The amount of support the organization has for the development of AIDS research, and towards the AIDS community is inspirational. After the home office visit we had the privilege to meet with Alex Sarian, the Director of Finance and New Business at the Lincoln Center Education, Mr. Sarian is world renowned for advocating for the arts. Picking his brain and listening to him explain just how powerful six words can be helped us better understand our message with advocacy. Thanks to Mr. Sarian, the ITO received a tour of Lincoln Center (to give you a taste of how expensive it is, the lobby of the Met had a 24 karat gold gate).

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The cancelation of Spamalot at South Williamsport (Pennsylvania) High School, perhaps because of the musical's gay content, has prompted widespread media coverage, led by Howard Sherman, the  former executive director of the American Theatre Wing. Sherman has posted several blogs about the cancelation, most recently around the firing of the school's contracted theatre teacher Dawn Birch. This evening, the South Williamsport School  Board will meet and likely discuss the controversy. The cancelation drew the attention of New York Times reporter Patrick Healy on Monday; in his story Healy details the timeline and disputed facts of the case, including the school superintendent's assertion that the play had never been "formally" approved--something that others have challenged. At this writing,

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Salutations from Northern Nevada!

This past weekend we held our 2014 Leadership Conference and Tech Olympics at Spanish Springs High School.  Let me just say wow!  It was such an amazing experience!

On Friday the State Thespian Officers lead a Leadership Conference.  I have been attending Leadership since 7th grade.  First let me just say I was nervous to transition from participating in the workshops to leading them.  It was such a surreal and fun experience.  Just saying I need to give the ITOs some credit.  I thought it was easy going up and teaching a workshop and this past weekend definitely proved me wrong.  

My first workshop was amazing.  It was titled "How to President".  I took all the Drama Club Presidents and we had discussions and just talked about ways to be better leaders and to improve our troupes.  After everyone split into new groups and we started switching off through the workshops.  The students rotated but the State Thespian Officers taught the lessons at the same time.  We had four lessons:  Team Building, Advocacy, Stress and Time Management, and Buddy Troupes.  
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Sandra Howard, long time Thespian Troupe sponsor, passed away this week.  Those of you who go back to Muncie days probably remember her.  I've included a link to her newspaper obit.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/kansascity/obituary.aspx?n=sandra-k-howard-hawkins&pid=172484267&fhid=21285

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Auditions are this week and EVERYONE is excited.  We are hoping for our best-ever turn out.  We are also working with a newly hired music teacher--and he is SO excited to be on board.  It is also a boon to have a male chaperon.  He'll put parents more at ease.  

Auditions, here we come!
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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview. 

Our latest Spotlight Member is Alex Minton, a senior at Millard West High School in Omaha, NE. Alex serves as the Chair of the International Thespian Officers. He is also a Thespian member of Troupe 5483 and a frequent contributor to the Community (demonstrated by the Gold MVM ribbon on his profile!). Alex is always willing to share unique ideas and his experiences as a theatre student with others. He was also a valuable addition to the group that helped us beta test the Community before we launched to the public. I asked Alex to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about him.

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TOTS TIMEEEEEEEE. Okay, so I'm in love raising cans for TOTS. For a student like me, it's really important. Mainly because my mom doesn't celebrate Halloween and I don't eat candy (Yeah, I know. I'm strange.) I always was dragged along with my siblings to go from house to house without my parents. It was misery. Please imagine a nine year old, a 7 year old, and a 13 year old in costume procrastinating going home every hour because," THERES MORE HOUSES!!!!!" Once I found out about TOTS I knew it would be interesting to go trick or treating for cans and not candy would be different. I tried it last year for the first time! Surprisingly, I wasn't miserable and my siblings really loved it!! We brought wagons and wheel barrows and collected. You'd be surprised how many people really adore that kind of community service and will generously give cans! They also ask many questions. MANY QUESTIONS questions like," how are you involved?", "what organization is into it?" That is the PERFECT opportunity to advocate! Now, this whole semester until Halloween, my school is doing a thing where for every can a person brings is a dollar off their admission! It's a great way to get people to your
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When walking through your school hallways, I can guarantee you see more students looking down at a 4x2 electronic rectangle than what is in front of them. Amidst all the colorful welcome back banners and club posters, students are still fixated on how Billy asked Susie to homecoming or what new song Beyonce is working on. This may cause some frustration, because during the social media frenzy your show posters/drama club information isn’t getting as much attention as it should.

Don’t freak, just tweet!

Marketing through social media is plain and simple. With the click of a button your troupe’s season can be shared for the whole state to see! You could even contact your state thespian board and have them make a post about your schools upcoming show, so your whole state is aware of your opening weekend.

The beginning of the school year is the perfect opportunity for your troupe (if you have not already) to establish your social media footprint. For example, my troupe’s “Millard West Drama Club” Facebook page has 130 people seeing our club meetings, fundraising opportunities, and show information each week.

One troupe that I love to keep up with on all forms of social media is the

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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.

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Happy 2014-2015 School Year from MONGOLIA!

As I look ahead to a new school year in a new country with new responsibilities and extraordinarily few resources, I cannot help but reflect on the past year’s travels.  

I believe myself to be the most fortunate theatre teacher in the United States because last year I was able to visit over 40 schools’ Theatre programs and communicate with another 30 teachers about their school situations.  I owe every one of those teachers a debt of gratitude.  I was amazed and impressed by all that I saw & read & learned - not because of what teachers did or didn’t have, but because of how successfully they used what they did or didn’t have.

And although I often had precious little for resources in the states, I saw teachers who had less - for there will always be a teacher who has less.  Now that I am in Mongolia, I work with teachers who have even less than the most desolate teacher in America…almost every teacher in this country falls into this category.  And a

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Thespian Alums Win Big at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards


CONGRATULATIONS!


We’re very proud of the International Thespian Society Alums who received 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards in some of the most prestigious categories. Congratulations, too, to the Thespian troupe directors who helped them set the foundations for their success! These alums and their theatre teachers exemplify the Thespian Motto: Act well your part; there all the honor lies. 

 

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It is official: Summer is over, and school has started (or will be starting very soon in a county near you)! I will trust that you have taken some well-needed time to rest, recharge, and be inspired by the time away from our full-time jobs. I have been slack in keeping up with my blog entries, noting that I haven’t posted since May. A sharp slap on the wrist, and now I’m back. It’s not for want of things to do; since last posting, I have finished National Board certification (and now wait until December to hear about the results), sat in on an exciting project related to End of Course prototype Theatre exams coming out of Florida (and at the same time got to enjoy some great time with my wife and kids in the afternoons and evenings at the fine hotels we stayed in for the duration), ran a two week drama camp for Middle and High school students, and took an entertainment job at a very well-known Floridian theme park. It is an amazingly different job to teaching; the amount of positive affirmation I get from 99% of everyone I met in my entertainment job is incredible, and not a little addictive. You can fill in your own amusing comparison to teaching here (“Wow, everyone’s happy to see me!” “Wow, people are telling me what an awesome job I’m doing!” “Wow! My pay is not determined by how my guests ‘score’ on their happiness quotient for the day – they’re just having a good time!”).

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One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.

 Our latest Spotlight Member is Jared Grigsby, troupe director of Troupe 1810 at Hebron High School in Hebron, IN. Jared is a frequent contributor to the Community, always quick to advise others or pose thoughtful questions.

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Last Saturday I got an opportunity to go to a recording studio with a few members of my mom's band. They are music majors from Tennessee! Many of them have decided to teach music to youth in their older years. I've never had the opportunity to actually speak to them until that Saturday. They asked me about what I want to do after school and I told them theatre. THEY WERE SHOCKED. They didn't understand how a student was involved in theatre at a young age without it being community theatre.  I told them there's an entire association dedicated to theatre education in schools! I spoke specifically with one that is a percussionist teacher.  I told him all the opportunities I've gotten from EdTA and all the great people I've met. He was extremely excited about getting his students involved!  So basically I'm here to tell you that advocacy works and inspires people! So get out there and tell your story! Someone will listen!  And please tell me your advocacy tales. I adore hearing them. 🎭
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