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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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We continue our series of conversations with some of our better-known Thespians by talking with the man who gave voice to Elphaba and a host of other memorable characters. (View a list of other distinguished Thespians.)

Grammy- and Oscar-winning songwriter Stephen Schwartz
Godspell, Pippin, Wicked, Pocahontas
Mineola High School, New York, 1964

Stephen Schwartz, who currently serves as president of the Dramatists Guild, has written numerous scores for stage and screen, including two musicals currently on Broadway. (In 1976, he had three shows running simultaneously!) He was recently inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement, which began fifty years ago at a Long Island high school.

“The best thing about [drama teacher] Dan Wargo and the way the troupe at Mineola worked was that the students were given a lot of autonomy over the shows, so that it was a great learning experience. For instance, in my senior year, I directed a production of Agatha Christie’s

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Did you know that you can have all of the answers in your pocket? You can with the Theatre Education Community App! It’s available on iTunes or Google Play, perfect for any tablet or smart phone. Search for “theatre education community” in your app store or click on the appropriate link below to get it:

Google Play

iTunes

The first time you use the Community app, you’ll need to log in, using the same access codes you use for the website. If you’ve never created an account on schooltheatre.org, you’ll need to do that first before you can log in to the app.

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It’s the dog days of summer, but not for long. Soon, if not already, the new school year will commence and you’ll begin thinking about what plays to produce, lessons to devise, sets to build, rehearsals to plan, and how to ensure that each and every one of your students gets the best possible experience in your classroom and on your stages. And, oh—you’re likely also thinking about how you’ll manage to get everything done in less than twelve hours a day. Still, you love your job, your students, and your school and it is a new year so I know you’re gearing up with energy and optimism. Here’s something else to think about if you haven’t: The new National Core Arts Standards, including theatre, were release in June (www.nationalartsstandards.org). You may be thinking, “My state already has standards and I like them just fine.” Or you may not like your state standards or any others for that matter. Please reconsider—these new national standards may or may not look like your state standards (and it will take time for them to be adopted by individual states), but here are a couple of things that I think are worth bearing in mind about them:

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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 plan to shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.

Our latest Spotlight Member is Alexandria Bagwell, a Junior at North Forsyth High School in Cumming, Georgia. Alexandria is an Honor Thespian and Vice President’s List Scholar of Troupe 5368 and a frequent blogger in the Community. I asked Alexandria to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about her.

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When we were working on the new YouthPLAYS catalogue, we decided to include a section at the front that explained the major points of rights and royalties.  Below is a modified for the blog version:

Playwrights' plays and musicals are protected by copyright, which means there are rules about how you can use them. Here are the ones you need to know:

1. You must obtain permission and pay royalties any time you perform a play in whole or in part in front of an audience (anyone outside of the cast and crew), regardless of whether admission is charged, whether the production is being staged for profit, whether anyone is being paid, whether the play is being performed for educational purposes (e.g. school assemblies) or whether the performance is billed as an "invited dress rehearsal."

2. Performing a play without prior licensing and payment of royalties is copyright infringement. Infringement is a serious matter, subject to statutory damages of up to $150,000 per incident plus legal costs. At minimum, expect to pay a penalty in addition to the rightfully owed royalties.

3. You may not make cuts, changes or additions to any play (including changing the gender of a character) without permission from the author or author's representative.
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Leadership Summit 2014

After my over night­into the early morning journey through airports and over countless states, I

found myself in the beautiful city known as, Cincinnati. It was the first time since Thespian

Festival that we, the 2014­2015 ITO had gotten to see each other. Over the next couple of days

our already existing bonds of friendship would become unbreakable. Learning how to effectively

work as a team and planning out our goals and workshops for the year, I find out that I am

among some of the most passionate and driven people in the world. The way each of us

communicated our ideas and personal goals opened my eyes to the inner beauty of all the ITO.

Immersing ourselves into advocacy, leadership and countless other important projects that will

be displayed this year, the 2014­2015 ITO became invincible and ready to conquer our term.
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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY SUMMIT WAS! It was such a privilege to get to meet all the faces that put this incredible organization together! From teachers, to state chapter directors, and everyone in between it's so interesting to see the gears that run such a well oiled machine. The real summit of this trip was the realization that I'm now a part of this. Being an ITO is still a very surreal thing for me to wrap my head around, but I recognize that I now have the opportunity to give back to this organization that has given me so much and I get to see how much it has given so many other people, and I thank Thespis constantly  for this opportunity. I'm thankful for the wonderful adults that are shaping me and preparing me for this journey, I'm thankful for the former ITO's and the foot prints they left, and I'm so thankful for my current ITO board and that we get to expand these foot prints. And we won't see the finishing products, but the most rewarding part is just that. It keeps going, this organization will continue to strive and it's because of these incredible adults that I met on this trip. Thank you all for your dedication and your love for this art because it inspires
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This year I had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit in Cincinnati, OH, and let me just say that it was packed with information!

Because I am one of the six incoming ITO, along with two student liaisons, we all spent most of our time learning about being student leaders. From the six outgoing ITO, we learned what their duties were and what it meant to be travelling to many different conferences throughout the year. The outgoing ITO were extremely helpful by helping us to understand the reality of their positions and by being brutally honest with us. They let us know that there are times when it will be very hard for us, but we just have to remember why we signed up for this position and to be true to ourselves.

The new ITO and the two liaisons also worked to create our group goals and values for the year. Those both will help us to stay on track with our mission and to drive us to do our best. Along with this, we've got a decent skeleton for both our leadership and advocacy workshops which are both looking quite awesome! 

Be sure to follow all of our social media sites because this new board will be taking over soon! We want everyone to be up to date on all of our endeavours throughout the year, and we want to hear from you too!
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A looking glass. A mirror. A view into a reflection that is opposite of what is normal or expected. Remember that classic Disney cartoon where Mickey Mouse awakens from a groggy nap to find himself faced with a mirror that isn't quite right? It bends, it enchants, and ultimately allows Mickey to step into an alternate world where nothing's as it seems. Just a week ago I found myself in a similar situation to old mouse-eared friend. For those of you that don't know me, my name is Matthew Reindl and I was one of this years ITO Chair candidates. As you may have figured out by now, I lost the election... But much to blissful surprise I was soon contacted by Mrs. Diane Carr. I was offered an advisory position to the board as the Arts Advocacy Liaison. I was then given a chance at a dream I thought was lost... I was invited to join the board at this years 2014 Summit. Much like our pal Mickey I found myself standing infront of the mirror, afraid and cautious. Alas my curiosity and desire to seek fulfillment took over! I took a leap of faith and hopped on a plane to CVG! I was nervous for what could be awaiting my arrival on the other side. Would the board resent my presence? What would
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Day 1: Everything has a beginning and an end. Last week in Ohio was a time of new starts and remembering. I arrived at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in Cincinnati, Ohio after an 18 hour drive from Tampa, Florida. I got to tour around the beautiful city with my family until I was needed. Around noon, I said good bye to my parents and hello to some of the incoming and out going ITO. We all met in our meeting room for welcomes and a Q&A session with the outgoing ITO. It was nice to learn about their experience and throughout the meeting all our delayed friends made there way in. Finally when we were all together, we headed out to eat dinner together. Following dinner can the reception where we met some of the chapter directors.

Day 2 was full of new starts. Matthew and I got to learn more about our liaison positions and expectation. Then throughout the day we had different meetings about leadership, advocacy, values and goals. After a long day of learning and growing with each other, all the directors and ITOs got a special treat. Our lovely Ms. Carr, EdTA member, hosted a pool party where we were able to just hangout and get to know each other better.
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3:30 a.m.
Mom: "Liz, wake up, it's ITO time."

7:30 a.m.
Mom: "Liz, wake up, we're in Chicago. What do you mean you don't have your ID? You know this means you're going to have to answer security questions. QUICK, what is the Iowa state bird?"

10:40 a.m.
Alex: "You dyed the tips of your hair pink? You've gone rogue."

Here are the first three things I remember from this trip. After those, I experienced a whirlwind of information, growing friendships, and anticipation.

After a giant hug party with Alex Minton (ITO Chair) and Rachel Gatewood (Region III Representative), we found Scott Wilson (Swils, for short) and drove to our final destination, the lovely Netherlands Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati.

The first day, for me, was a day of listening. I listened to what the outgoing ITO said about their experiences at festivals, with planning, and with working together. We also got to attend a "Meet and Greet" with many State Chapter Directors. I had a really great time getting to know directors from my region, other regions, and, of course, from Iowa! Later that night we decided our three goals as an ITO board,
  1. Reinvent Advocacy
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I went into school on Monday to complete our theater inventory and set up our repertory light plot for the school year.  I was so tired from conference and having terrible flight delays, but of course, my students still have the crazy energy of teenagers.  They all had to know every detail of conference and what I learned.  But where do you begin?  The level of learning can't be quantified or tested...it has to be experienced.  

This was so true for my favorite masterclass on viewpoints.  Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what viewpoints was before I stepped into that room.  Then I found out other people in the room knew what it was, and I felt that dreaded feeling of "I'm going to be the silly person in the room who has no idea what they are doing and will make a fool of myself in front of all the other theater teachers!"

Before self-consciousness could completely overwhelm me, we started with exercises to put us in the moment.  Someone in the circle began with the phrase, "I am...," and finished it.  Then it would go to the next person in the circle who would also finish the statement, responding to what the person before you said and without pre-planning what you were going to say.  Our second time around the circle we had the phrase "I hope..." One of the guest high school students finished the statement "I hope to fail."  Boom. Immediate tunnel-vision on the high school junior in the room wise beyond her years.  Exuding the kind of energy, bravery, and fearlessness we try to espouse in our students every day.  Oh, the tables had been flipped on me!  Here I am, a somewhat seasoned teacher falling trap to the same feelings I fight in my classroom.  How could I have been so...well, I don't know what the appropriate adjective is, but stupid certainly comes to mind.
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It is hard to believe that the start of school is just around the corner! It seems that no matter what channel you happen to be surfing, there never seems to be a lack of back to school commercials. Grocery stores are filled to the brim with new backpacks and school supply lists. I would imagine many are secretly dreading the end of days spent at the pool and mornings without an alarm clock.
 

Not me!

I am ready for the new school year because in just one month I will get to witness the impact Thespians can make in their community. I know what you are thinking- “My Tony in West Side Story last spring moved everyone to tears, I think that meets my quota for community changing this year.” Think again, friends! You have the opportunity to show your community what it means to be a Thespian - offstage!  

 

TOTS-EAT

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Even though the clock read 4:00AM on July 22 I was as energetic as an eight year old. The sudden burst of energy was all because I was about to embark on my first trip as an incoming International Thespian Officer.

My parents walked me through their "Travel Survival Guides" as we drove to the airport. Hugs were exchanged, and I was off to my gate. Once I landed in St. Louis I met up with Rachel Gatewood, the incoming Region III ITO, and we boarded our plane to Columbus.


After a smooth flight we met up with Liz Coin, the incoming Region II ITO, and Scott Wilson (aka Swils, one of the ITO's adult advisory members). Swils drove us our final leg of the trip to Cincinnati.

The two hour drive was finally over and we arrived at the Netherlands Plaza Hotel. Once inside the elegant building we met up with the rest of the incoming and outgoing ITO. 23 days apart called for 23 seconds of shrieks and hugs.
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Leadership Summit was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. First and foremost let me just say, that is a BEAUTIFUL city. There was live music in the evening time and the day time was lit with excitement. Little did the city know that some great information was being spread in the Netherland Plaza Hilton Hotel each night that weekend! 

For the incoming ITO there was training everyday. Something that taught me much more than expected. The outgoing ITO were so informative and very wise. They gave us real tips from the heart. Tips such as, remembering why we ran for this position and how to take care of ourselves through the stressful times. They also told us that this isn't about us, but our service to our thespians. 

My board and I got to sit in on two informative lectures on the National Arts Core Standard. A big thanks to Jim Palmarini and Randy Cohen. Your information played a huge role in the ITO coming up with our goals and values for our term this year. We later got to have lunch with both great minds and they gave us tips that we all could take home to our troupes about advocacy. 


With all that said, I met a plethora of adults dedicated to spreading and advocating for the arts because they know how beneficial it is to everyone involved. To you all, I give great thanks. Without you none of this could be accomplished. You're heroes. 
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