Open Forum

Performance-based classes for next year

  • 1.  Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 24 days ago
    Hi All,
    While I have been in good spirits, those good vibes have been rapidly deteriorating as more and more events far in the future have already determined to go virtual. This brings me to the planning of my own classes, so I am coming to all of you to see what you are doing.

    While I know it is optimal to plan for every situation, and I am to the best of my ability, like many of your schools, my school puts out our academic bulletin now and students are picking classes for the fall term. I teach a class called Advanced Acting for Competition, which is exactly what the title suggests. The class prepares students to compete in Speech events at Speech and Debate competitions, and there are various local competitions. Of course, our big event would be to produce a one-act for our state chapter festival, but now that won't happen because the festival will be virtual.

    Here's my I keep the class and hope there are some opportunities to compete, even with social distancing, etc. or do I alter it to become something that can be completed online totally, like Playwriting? I have to make a decision and stick with it. I would much prefer to have the advanced acting class, and would regret it if I shelved the competition class unnecessarily. 

    What are you all doing? 

    Micki Kaplan McMillan
    Chair, Theater Department
    Solebury School
    6832 Phillips Mill Road
    New Hope, PA 18938

    215-862-5261 x101

  • 2.  RE: Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 24 days ago
    Would you be able (and comfortable) making it a class on auditions and self tapes? This is something that could be done either in the classroom or, if necessary, at home.
    Or maybe offer both ideas (adv acting and self taping) as a mixed class and, if things close again, adjust to making it the audition/self tape only.

    I'd try to keep it performance based as much as possible so, when things return to "normal" you won't have to readjust the class back to a performance.

    Shira Schwartz
    Chandler Unified School District
    Chandler AZ

  • 3.  RE: Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 23 days ago
    Hi Micki,

    I don't have the same class structure, but I am having similar questions. My immediate response to you is don't cancel the class. I am sure plenty of organizations are going to come up with lots of virtual ways to compete in a wide variety of things, including speech. I have been pretty impressed with the invitations to create over the last two months. I bet it will continue.

    Like I said, I don't have a competition class, but I am having to rethink classes too. I'll share my thoughts.

    If we have face to face instruction in the fall, that might the only chance my students have to rehearse together, because I am guessing that afterschool ensembles will be a "no." I don't traditionally produce shows in my classes. I draw a pretty distinct line between the classroom program and the after school program. Our after school program produces all of the public performances and my class instruction is really about skill building, performing for each other, performing for other classes, and occasionally elementary classrooms/special groups.

    So I am trying to think of how to most effectively use class time and have performances with those students from class.  Here are some things I am thinking.
    1) Having each class devise a piece. Devised theatre can respond in real time and to changing circumstances. I think I could use the devising process to teach the skills specific to each class.
    2) I have been struck by how important films, TV, YouTube, streaming services, etc. have been since we have been inside. If we continue to have limited contact in the Fall, these will still be important. So I think my acting/writing/producing skills might transfer to doing those things for screens instead of a live audience. It's not something I usually do more than touch on, but I think now is the time.
    3) "One person show" development. I am currently developing a "just in case" unit for 20-21 school year that focuses on the idea that we all have a show inside of us.

    I'd love to hear what you decide or keep talking it out.


    J. Harvey Stone
    Williamsburg VA

  • 4.  RE: Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 11 days ago
    Thanks so much for sharing this. My school has the exact same structure, and if my school follows suit with some others in my District, I won't have my after-school show production/community class. Grieving that for sure as that is where all the super dedicated theatre students go, where we have the most bonding, the late night scene painting know! Just really great to hear other peoples' thinking and planning on this.

    Fiona Coupar
    Drama Teacher/Theatre Company Director
    Panorama Ridge High School
    Surrey, B.C.

  • 5.  RE: Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 22 days ago

    Micki, I actually have a clsss for speech competition.
    we purchase/prepare pieces 1st 9 weeks, block and rehearse for a mystery play 2nd, 3rd-one act play,
    4th- they are required to participate in our spring show. 

    I am in a similar boat as you.... haven't heard any final decisions yet or need for adaptation.... so I'm just thinking I will plan as normal and adjust as needed. We are not doing online instruction but it could be a possibility for the fall.
    The unknown is tough!!

    Erika Trahan
    Kaplan LA

  • 6.  RE: Performance-based classes for next year

    Posted 10 days ago
    Edited by Josh Ruben 10 days ago
    Hi Ms. McMillian,
    I appreciate your dilemma.  Thinking your situation over has helped me focus more on potential solutions in my own program.

    Here are two arguments:
    First off, I'd recommend not cancelling the class.  Like you, I use my Advanced Acting classes for competition events. However, I am going to incorporate more dramatic writing into the class while still emphasizing performance.  If we get to compete, either in-person or remotely, we will be prepared.  If competitions are cancelled outright, students will still get to produce work for public consumption via on-line productions.

    However, for a variety of reasons, I have always taught classes that have been multi-purpose in their approach.  Doing a unit on playwriting while also preparing for monologue competitions is not new.  It takes a bit more planning, but it's worked out.

    Therefore, I would only suggest cancelling the class if you are not comfortable with a split-purpose approach.  While I hope I'm wrong, I don't see us getting back to normal any time soon.  Therefore, the safest thing to do is to cancel the competition class and focus on Playwriting which, as you know, is more conducive to remote instruction.

    Josh Ruben, M. Ed.
    Fine Arts Head
    Northwest Whitfield HS (dba, The Northwest Theatre Co.)
    Tunnel Hill, GA