Open Forum

creating a theatre program

  • 1.  creating a theatre program

    Posted 24 days ago
    After years of non-existence my high school is finally deciding to create a Theatre program. I am being tasked with creating said program to present to the administration which is to include different classes, time frame for integrating the program over the next couple of years, etc.  I am starting literally from scratch. I would welcome suggestions on how to start other than just Beginning Acting. 


    David Greaney

  • 2.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted 23 days ago
    We do the following for our program.  It has it's shortcoming but overall works well.
    Fundamentals of Theatre (Open elective) *Survey of theatre through lecture and project-based learning

    Acting 1 (Intro to Acting)
    Acting 2 (Techniques and Styles)
    Advanced Drama 1 (Playwriting and Directing)
    Advanced Drama 2 (Production and Creation) *Basically take all the skill from 9-11 and they have their own "company"

    Tech 1 (Intro to Tech Theatre and Design) *Lecture and projects
    Tech 2-4 (Practicum-style production work) *Designing and building class and department productions

    I would recommend separating Acting as a class and having Advance Drama as your production class where students have to audition to get in.  This will help you weed out the kids who just get thrown in because they can do tech or acting while your students who are dedicated to do productions can be in the advanced class.

    I would start with 1 of each intro level and 1 advanced and see if you can build the program from there.  Advanced could be audition only.

    This is all tied to what your school and district decides is okay for you to use but it's a place to start.

    Joel King
    Woodstock GA

  • 3.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted 23 days ago
    Congratulations! Here are a few suggestions:

    Grade 9: Intro to Theatre
    Beginning improvisation, pantomime (I like to call it space work), a bit of Theatre history, Theatre vocabulary and etiquette adapting narrative into script format, beginning acting exercises, scene study, maybe reader's theatre, text analysis, children's theatre

    Grades 10/11: Intermediate Theatre
    Improvisation, scene study, character creation, acting in one-act plays, social justice theatre, plays from different cultures, play reports, Shakespeare, stage combat

    Grades 11/12: Advanced Theatre
    Advanced (possibly long form) improvisation, advanced acting exercises and scene study, writing the one-act play, directing, classical text (other than Shakespeare), individualized senior projects

    Best wishes!

  • 4.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi David! As an EdTA member, you also have access to our Mentor Match program. There are quite a few mentors available who have expertise in building theatre programs and they would love the chance to help. Take a look and feel free to get in touch if you have questions or would like a recommendation!

    Ginny Butsch
    Community Engagement Manager
    Educational Theatre Association
    Cincinnati OH

  • 5.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted 2 days ago
    Hi David,

    Creating a theatre program is a fun and scary adventure! As much as I hated taking over a program with four production classes, I quickly realized how valuable it was in getting a wonderful cross section of the student body-including three season athletes-involved in our program.

    I would highly recommend a Children't Theatre class. I've team taught an entry level musical children's course for the last 27 years with my MD, and the class was in our program for at least 25 years before I came.

    We use it as a great skill builder and recruitment for our advanced audition only Musical Theatre course (2 shows per year, also team taught), and our CT class produces a wildly successful children's musical each April. All vocals, scene work, and choreography is learned during class. Only the three dress rehearsals and five shows are outside of class time.

    We send a 25 minute preview to each of our elementary schools, and a flier goes home with the over 4,000 k-6 kids in our district. A majority of the kids in our program talk about seeing those previews and shows as kids, and that is when they got interested in theatre.

    Over the years this class has become a very welcoming place for some of our more severe SPED kids, and we set up lots of big buddies to assist those students. It's been a great place for them to succeed.

    In the last 8 weeks after the show the class adapts fairy tales around a theme and 300 2nd graders walk to us during our two hour final. By that point in the year the seniors serve as directors for each segment, sophomores and juniors are the ADs, and the kids are very independent. They also research and pitch the children's show for the following year so we can announce it as part of our season at our June banquet. We usually have about a 60% return to the class each year. Some of our kids who are very active on campus love this class as they can still be in a show that requires little outside of class time.

    Feel free to reach out if you'd like some other recruiting and community outreach ideas.

    Krista Carson Elhai
    Educational Theatre Foundation National Board of Trustees
    CA Educational Theatre Association, Past President
    CA Thespians Director of Membership & New Teacher Outreach
    Theatre Chair Claremont HS
    An International Baccalaureate World School
    Claremont CA

  • 6.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted yesterday
    As you plan, don't forget about all the beyond-curriculum items, from sharing space and competing for electives students, to handling concerns of parents and community about show (and casting) decisions, to fund raising and field trips...the list goes on.

    Real-World Theatre Education is written just for you, the theatre educator starting out to build a new, strong program. It includes an A-Z of templates to save you from reinventing the wheel, from sample curricula to control booth rules to a full audition packet, ready to download and customize.

    If you need it, Educational Stages also now offers both Teaching Tech You Never Learned and a Theatre Safety Guide.

    Congratulations on this wonderful challenge.

    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA

  • 7.  RE: creating a theatre program

    Posted yesterday
    You may want to consider offering acting classes only up front, since that's where the primary interest seems to be. Also they don't require anything in the way of tools, materials, equipment, money to buy them, space to work and store stuff, specialized technical knowledge, and considerations for work safety. All the tech stuff can come later as the program develops.

    Theatre is about stories, and many many stories can be told without any need for the ancillary stuff.

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer