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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.

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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


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


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, 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 ( 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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