Open Forum

Season Schedule

  • 1.  Season Schedule

    Posted 05-19-2020 12:39

    I have a question for all the season veterans out there.  I have seen some of you post that you have 3 shows a season as well as one acts.  I am just curious what your calendar (year at glance) looks like.  Currently, I have 2 shows a season and we attempted one acts this year but had to cancel due to Covid19.  We also had 2 weekends of shows for the first time at our school which was very successful but not sure if our new principal will allow us to continue with 2 weekends.  We rehearse Mondays, Wed, Thurs from 5-8 and Saturdays from 9-12 (sometimes go until 3).  This was the schedule that was in place when I took over the program 4 years ago.  My auditorium and stage is on the larger side so it is quite popular with other departments in our school such as chorus, band, dance, sports and any award ceremonies.  Our school also allows outside dance companies and schools to use our facility for performances.  It is very hard for me to schedule multiple shows.  If anyone is willing to share I would love to hear from you.

    What does your rehearsal schedule with more than 2 productions looks like?
    Does your season consist of a combo of plays and musicals?
    Do you have large cast productions?
    Are you at the school 24/7?
    Do your shows overlap?
    When do you start your rehearsal for fall shows?
    Any suggestions on how I can advocate for our school NOT to allow other schools to use our space? (This one might be tricky)

    Thank you everyone in advance!!

    Kristen Bishoff
    Dircecter & ITS Troupe Advisor
    Chesapeake High School & Chesapeake Bay Middle School
    Pasadena, MD

  • 2.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 08:06
    I do 4 shows a school year. 2 for Middle School, a play and a musical, and 2 for High School, a play and a musical.  We rehearse Mon-Fri 3-5 or 6-8 depending on the other activities the students are participating in. For the musicals we add Saturday rehearsals, 9-12.  During tech week, rehearsals run 3-4 hours each depending on the show and how much work still needs to be done.  My casts usually range from 20-35 kids.  I try not to overlap shows too much but usually in January and February, when we are rehearsing plays during the week, we will have musical rehearsals on Saturdays. I cast my fall show in late September/early October but don't start rehearsals until late October since so many of my students are in Marching Band.  My show schedule usually runs MS musical in late November/early December, HS play in late January/early February, MS play in late February/early March and HS musical in late April/early May.  Sometimes depending on the amount of rehearsal time I will switch the MS play and musical but I try to avoid back to back musicals.
    I use High School students to help as musical directors and student directors for the Middle School shows and hire a musical director and sometimes a choreographer for the High School musical, I have student directors for the High School shows as well.
    I also share my stage with my band and choral directors and every spring we sit down together and play our following year, who will need the stage and when for concerts, rehearsals, etc.  We then submit our calendar to the school in late May/early June so that the school can schedule around us or they will contact us if they need to schedule something in the auditorium at the same time.  When the stage is being used for other things, I use our music rooms in the High School and Middle School for rehearsals.
    I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any more questions.
    Shannon Ordakowski
    High School Tutor
    Drama Club Director

    "Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says I'm possible". Audrey Hepburn

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  • 3.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 08:37
    Good morning Kristen,

    Yikes, that is a lot of moving pieces. We do a three show season, occasionally a four. Two MainStage musicals and a play that we stage with the audience on the stage. Pretty fun. We are the first to get our schedule into the school so we get the stage when we want it. As for your other questions, see below...

    What does your rehearsal schedule with more than 2 productions looks like? We have a 6-8 week rehearsal process. Usually 3-4 days after school from 2:45 - 5ish. That may vary due to the size of the show. We build in the evenings and on the weekends. As it gets to tech week we dry tech on the sunday and then run in the evenings from 6 - 9 p, maybe later. 
    Does your season consist of a combo of plays and musicals? Two full musicals and one play. Sometimes three musicals, with hone being a smaller one. This year we did Once on This Island, My Fair Lady, The Addams Family and Anatomy of Gray.
    Do you have large cast productions? We always try to include as many students as we can without going crazy. We average 50-60 for our large musicals. 
    Are you at the school 24/7? No, but we do work in the evenings and on weekends sometimes. I have been here seven years and at first I spent a lot of time at school. Now the planning is the key. Lighting is always at the end so I have spent late nights on occasion. 
    Do your shows overlap? Performance, no, but occasionally we may be ready to produce one show and rehearsing another. This is only on the three musical years. 
    When do you start your rehearsal for fall shows? We usually do our first show in November so September is when we start rehearsals for the Fall Musical.
    Any suggestions on how I can advocate for our school NOT to allow other schools to use our space? (This one might be tricky). So we have made it , with the help of administration, that all facility requests for the auditorium comes through my producing director. We have upgraded the facility and have so much invested, that not just anyone can come in and use the space. If an outside vendor rents the space, we always have one of us there and we require the renter to pay for the staff member to be present. It has worked out nicely and we have a variety of outside dance companies, community events and even political debates take place on our stage.

    Hope this helps. Would be glad to chat if you have any further questions.

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 4.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 08:57

    You are in a tricky situation. As for the schedule, I would ask that you be able to block out dates before anything else is scheduled. Explain that it is very difficult to hide the sets and props and that when your lighting is set for your show it requires hours of work to reset them (assuming you are running an analog system-either way, time is money).

    Our rehearsal schedule is the same for each show. We typically rehearse three days a week for 2 1/2 hours a day for every show. Sometimes, I will bring them in for a choreo rehearsal on a Saturday or a holiday. These extra rehearsals are always scheduled in the master calendar in the beginning of the year so other programs cannot use the space on that day.  I also have chorus, dance, or band concerts; and other programs like STEAM and other awards nights that I have to balance.  I usually sit down with the chorus, dance, and band teachers before submitting my schedule and we create a calendar that works for all of us.

    The way I handle three shows and a one act is a little balance and some overlap.  I cast the first show (a play) in the spring from the year before. I hold read throughs of the play through zoom or some other platform several times over the summer. This way, when they come back to school, they are memorized and I only have to focus on blocking and sets/props. It goes very quickly when they are memorized. We have this show for one weekend (3 shows) at the end of September. At the beginning of September, I audition and cast for the fall/winter musical. I use a different day of the week to do this and I usually hold them in a classroom so I don't take up the stage. After casting, I hold a read through in my classroom and pass out scripts.  After strike of the play, I begin rehearsals for the musical.  We usually hold the performance in January to avoid all of those winter concerts.  When they come back from break we have tech and dress the first two weeks and run three shows over one weekend.. In December, I will hold auditions for the spring musical. After casting, I will hold a read through session and pass out materials. After strike of the previous show, we begin rehearsals. Sometimes, I have rehearsals start early and have the music director run them to teach them the music of the show. This only works if we are not in tech or dress rehearsal. We usually hold the spring show at the end of April or beginning of May.  As for the One Act, there are two ways I have done this.  Either it is cast with my advanced (Thespian) theatre students and is our focus in class at the beginning of the year (This is the One Act we take to Thespian Competition.) I have also held after school one day a week, we do this on Mondays. This was stressful and required me to cancel everything in order to rehearse for a full week prior to competition.Personally, I like the classroom rehearsals better. We keep rehearsing the one act once or twice a week or just do it reader's theatre style to keep the memorization fresh.  I host a Thespian Showcase the weekend prior to competition at State which is usually directly after the first musical. (Sometimes we perform with the musical's set in place.)  Our full productions rehearse on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. I use Wednesdays for tech rehearsals to build the set and source costumes and props. Once we have the costumes pulled, my costumers come to a regular rehearsal and fit the cast.

    Am I at school 24/7? Sometimes. Mostly, I am able to leave by 5:30 each night. It only gets hectic with late nights close to show dates and competition.  I will say that I am ready for winter break when it comes! If you have any further questions, please let me know.  Good luck!

    I will also mention that we have a rehearsal space that is not our stage.  This helps open the stage up for others to use.  I do, however, block off the stage a a month before show dates, so the actors can acclimate to the sets and I can fine tune blocking and choreo.

    Amanda Dierking
    Drama Director
    Lake County Schools
    Minneola FL

  • 5.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 09:32
    Hi Kristen,
    My school produces six shows a season! MS one act plays, MS Musical, US Musical, US Fall Play (which I direct), US Winter Play (Student Directed and run) and our Fundraiser Cabaret. The Fall is lite, after the first of the year, we all hit the ground running. I have to block out our auditorium for set load in, how long set will be in place, strike and then the load in of the next show. Our school too, rents out our space, however, they rent based around, what the school has programmed. I kept asking "are we a rental facility or school?" I teach at a private school but I have worked at public schools and know that they rent their auditoriums to outside groups. I do have a little more control teaching in a private school.

    In the fall, I rehearsal the play three days a week for 2.5 hours, Sundays if needed. All shows have a week of run thrus/tech on the set, a week of dress and a weekend of performances. All the shows share rehearsal spaces. I will use our dining hall for large cast rehearsal or my studio for small group numbers or scene work. For our US Musical we rent the theatre at St Joseph's University, we have been doing that since 1993. All of our other shows take place in our small school auditorium. I have student stage managers for  every show. The US winter play is totally manned by students and directed by a Senior, which rehearse simultaneously with our MS Musical. As soon as the US winter play closes we audition our spring musical and then I am rehearsing two shows at the same time for a while.

    When I was young and single, I pretty much lived at rehearsal, now I set a schedule for myself that fits my life now and all the work gets done. The students also know my work method and will stay a step ahead of the game, and rehearsals fun efficiently. I have a fantastic staff that I have been working with for over 20 years. This September I start my 34th year at school. Our US Musical was cancelled due to...which just premiered our Virtual fundraiser Cabaret this past weekend. I am meeting with the school next week to see what next season will look like, as we have been told we may be in and out of school next year. Just when you think you finally have your program running smoothly......

    If you need help getting the school to hear you, get some of your active theatre parents to speak up. The bottom line is the programs we run are that child's sport. That is the philosophy my parents use.

    If you need any other help or want to see a copy of my rehearsal schedule let me know, I will be happy to share. The best of luck to you for a great season!

    Dewey Oriente
    Bryn Mawr PA

  • 6.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 07-05-2020 18:44
    #Dewey Oriente


    I would love to see your Virtual Cabaret Fundraiser & year how you did it. 

    Maria Stadtmueller 
    St. Augustine School 
    Kendall Park, NJ

    Sent from my iPhone


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  • 7.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 11:56

    Avoid 24/7  by only doing what only you may do. Delegate everything else: it empowers kids (oversight is so much less time consuming than doing it yourself), takes advantage of parent/faculty talent if you choose to (I don't)...and here's the new idea: hire a parent as an Assistant Coach (plenty of sports precedent for that!) that becomes legally able to supervise kids as they paint, build costumes, rehearse under your stage manager/student director, etc. I found it was worth slicing off $100 from my meager coaching stipend to have someone I could call on (they were willing to volunteer but couldn't be hired without getting some pay) so I wasn't there 24/7.

    We've gotten extra rehearsal time from the musical groups by proving we can strike and re-set their class-time [orchestra] setup after school and ready for that night's concert while leaving behind no trace we were ever there (with organization, practice and a small army of theatre kids, one can spike and strike a 60-piece orchestra setup in under 5 minutes and re-set in 5-10...easily worth the 2-3 hours of rehearsal.

    The notion that the auditorium can not be used the afternoon when there's a speaker, awards, etc. at night is just ludicrous. Fight that battle. Those events can be set up by theatre folks in moments to minutes. NO need to cancel a full stage rehearsal for a lineup of chairs, a podium and a working mic on the apron!

    I figure about 1 hour of rehearsal for each minute of performance.
    Our theatre shares space with hs & ms including all band/orchestra/chorus performances (both HS & MS of each). We do a full length straight play in the fall, the MS does a full musical in the winter, we do a full musical in the spring. We also squeeze in 4 TheatreSports county-wide tournaments.
    Our administrator has been good about not renting out the theatre to outside groups, at least not without checking with me first. You MUST document any and all incidents from things that break or get moved unnecessarily to nastiness with our student technicians, to build a case against outsiders using your facility.

    We do have a Black Box. After the spring musical we have student-directed short plays in there.
    All other small projects (conference and Thespian performances; Shakespeare festival; district/regional/state competitions) come as class projects, with a few extra rehearsals thrown in as needed.

    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA

  • 8.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 07-05-2020 18:53
    Edited by Ginny Butsch 07-07-2020 16:09
    Yes, Chip, the 2 nights of Set/up before each school function of 5 chairs & a podium means I lose 3 nights rehearsal for every activity. Most things I can’t fight but I have been having rehearsal AROUND the risers for Christmas & Spring Concerts and I have been known to move the manger on occasion. We also have a big dance that they hang a huge banner across my stage for weeks so I can’t close the curtain or move our rolling walls: super frustrating!

    Maria Stadtmueller
    Kendall Park, NJ

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 9.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-20-2020 15:31
    Hi Kristen,

    Does your department get together to discuss dates that work for all of you for your various needs? Within the Fine Arts department at my school the performing arts group gets together to go over potential dates for the upcoming year; and we usually do this in January. We share a google calendar and put in our dates so everyone can see all the performances and tech rehearsals for the year. I had all my dates in to the vice principal who handles scheduling the areas on campus by the middle of February. I'm not sure what your scheduling is like but, for the most part, it is a first come first served at my school. Most of our big performances occur the same time every year, so the entire campus has a pretty good idea of when our shows will be.

    I have 2 main stage shows a year (one each semester), a night of one acts each quarter (2 are nights of student directed pieces and 2 are nights of pieces I direct), 5-6 improv shows,  and our ITS awards, honors, and induction night each year. Our entire department also hosts a night of the arts in addition to the other performances.

    I am a loner on my campus and usually do a musical every other year since I am responsible for everything except music direction for them and they are TIRING (or I'm getting old...). I do use plays with music sometimes but I do not count that as a musical in my season since it doesn't have the same level of music or choreography that a full musical does.

    My main stage shows rehearse Mon, Wed, and Fridays (my improv team gets Tues/Thurs) for about 2 months. Basically, I have auditions the 2nd week of school and start rehearsing about a week or so after that. We then have our fall for 2 weeks and head right into tech. I used to hold rehearsals during the breaks but it was a logistical nightmare and I no longer do. Then I repeat for spring.

    If anyone knows of a way to put one of us first for the stage I would love to know how. I'm finishing my 11th year at my school and I still don't have the ability to guarantee my space on the stage; and several years ago I lost the ability to leave a set up over the weekend as the space is rented to a church on Sunday's.

    Sorry if this answer is a little all over the place. I started working at my computer around 6:30 this morning and took a "break" to help my daughter with her schoolwork.

    Shira Schwartz
    Chandler Unified School District
    Chandler AZ

  • 10.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-21-2020 02:14
      Hi Kristen,

    I work at a school of about 800 students. My department is approximately 20-30 kids large, with maybe 10-12 of them who fancy themselves actors.

    I do four shows a year:
    • A Fall show (a straight play; Main Stage)
    • A one-act (Advanced Theatre)
    • A Spring show (alternate between a straight play and a musical every other year due to my department being a bit small; Main Stage)
    • A student-produced showcase. (Advanced Theatre)

    My Fall Show is done before Thanksgiving. We perform One Act first week of February. We start Spring Show rehearsal in January. There's a little overlap for about a month with One Act and Spring Show. Advanced Theatre rehearses during their class period as well as for a short time after school. I give all of my Main Stage rehearsals study hall time to knock out homework/destress from the school day before we get into rehearsal. During one act season, I rehearse with advanced theatre for 30-45 minutes after school while main stage members who are not in Advanced Theatre are in study hall. There is some overlap, so some kids don't get a break, but those kids usually enjoy it anyway. Spring Show goes up in mid-April. After One Act, I have Advanced Theatre rehearsing during class for their showcase at the end of the year. Once Spring Show finishes, I hold rehearsals after school with Advanced Theatre until our showcase at the end of the year.

    January is a little hectic, but after that it's business as usual. I hope this helps a bit.

    Gavin White

  • 11.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-21-2020 02:19
    I missed your other questions:

    1. I hope my first response helped with this one.
    2. Musical every other year.
    3. My department is maybe 30 students, school of 800.
    4. Yes.
    5. For one month. Advanced Theatre rehearses during class.
    6. September-ish. I usually pick the weekend two weekends before Thanksgiving and count 10 weeks back and call that my audition workshop. Next week is auditions.8 weeks of rehearsals. One weekend of four shows (Thurs, Fri, double Sat)
    7. Personally, I don't have to deal with this. I'm sorry :( I would find out if they're paying to use the space... if they pay for it, it might be harder to leverage it away from them.

  • 12.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-21-2020 10:07
    What does your rehearsal schedule with more than 2 productions looks like?

    We do six shows (plus at least one project).

    24-Hour Theatre Project (early to mid September
    Fall Play (early October)
    Black Box Play (third week of October)
    Winter Play (third week of November)
    Holiday Play (second or third work of December)
    One-Act Plays (first or second week of January) -- student directed
    Musical (late March/early April)

    Does your season consist of a combo of plays and musicals?
    Yes. See above. Sometimes we will do two musicals but that is very hard on the infrastructure. The music department will not support two so we are on our own if we do.

    Do you have large cast productions?

    Sometimes. The point of doing so many shows is to provide opportunity for diversity including the size of the show. I think kids will often have a more meaningful experience with a smaller show.  Our black box is rather small so this requires smaller, more intimate material.

    Are you at the school 24/7?
    I have a long day but go home when it is over. I hire a guest director for at least two of the shows -- sometimes four. The parent booster group helps to pay for this.

    Do your shows overlap?
    Performances, no; rehearsals, yes!  This is why it is important to hire additional directors.

    When do you start your rehearsal for fall shows?
    We typically have a five-week rehearsal schedule -- more for the musical. Rehearsals for the fall play start the week before the kids are in school. This allows a longer rehearsal unencumbered by other school responsibilities.

    Any suggestions on how I can advocate for our school NOT to allow other schools to use our space? (This one might be tricky)
    This is tricky, isn't it.  We do not have as much problem with this as I thought we would in the new building. We are lucky because we have a dedicated (but small) scene shop, a dance studio, and a black box theatre. Outside groups use the auditorium occasionally but rarely the black box so our work can go on even if someone is using the auditorium. By choice, we generally rehearse on the stage one week per show to be performed in there. Juggling rehearsal spaces is tricky.

    Mark A. Zimmerman,

    Theatre Director
    Akron School for the Arts
    Firestone Community Learning Center
    470 Castle Blvd
    Akron, Ohio 44313

    Troupe 5570

  • 13.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-21-2020 10:36
    Thank you everyone for all your responses.  It has given me so many ideas on where to take my program.  I do have a great group of parent volunteers that help monitor students and run my carps shop but I am the only teacher on staff.  We do not have a theatre arts class in our school. It is a shame and I have been trying to get one off the ground for a few years.  No black box theatre either.

    If anyone has a calendar with their rehearsal schedule they are willing to share I would love to see that.  I am a visual learning :)

    Mark- I would love to hear about your 24 hour Theatre project too!!

    Thank you everyone!!

    Kristen Bishoff
    Dircecter & ITS Troupe Advisor
    Chesapeake High School & Chesapeake Bay Middle School
    Pasadena, MD

  • 14.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-24-2020 11:23
    i was where you are 29 yers ago and now we are building an arts building that we move into this school year. What you are doing matters in kids lives and will bear fruit!

    We have classes that are foundational, classes that have  Mainstage and Blackbox Performances, And we have performances that are intra-curricular (I always use that instead of extracurricular because  I believe arts are key to a student's learning.) All told  with theatre, music, media, dance and visual arts we produce 15+ events a year.

    i have years of production schedules -- musicals, full length plays, one acts, student run coffee house shows ,  and concerts I am happy to share.  Give me some specifics of what should be helpful and I am  glad to send to you.

    Paula Flautt
    CPA Artistic Director
    Nashville TN

  • 15.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-23-2020 16:12
    Hi Kristen!

    I am the Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator, which basically means I do all the scheduling for the facility in addition to running events, maintenance, and working alongside classes.  I'm also the Technical Director and Designer (scenic and lighting).  Having someone in my arts management position is uncommon, but the schools around me that do have some sort of auditorium manager find it easier to book things closer together, and with more forethought than schools around me that don't.  I help relieve pressure on teachers that are trying to schedule things, and can notice when things are or aren't going to work well in tandem.

    Our basic season looks like:
    Fall Production (musical) at the end of October/beginning of November
    Occasionally Fall Concerts around the musical (1-2 concerts, not a full season)
    December Concert Season
    Winter Mainstage at the end of February/beginning of March
    March Concert Season
    A few concerts in April, maybe one at the beginning of May, and a smaller children's show at the end of the April
    Spring Black Box production, in the middle of May
    End of the year Concert Season from middle of May until middle of June when school is over

    There are maybe 8-12 assemblies during the day, over the course of a year, plus a few awards ceremonies, usually at the end of semesters.

    The arts are the primary reason for the facility, and while they do need to play along with other high school events, they do take precedent over all other non-high school events, including middle school concerts (of which we host around 8, 3 times a year) and rentals.  I book high school arts events in May for the following year, then middle school events in August/September, and rentals are interspersed, but usually not until August/September.  I know what to expect from most of the rentals now, and they can only book during non-school day times, so if they're asking for a date that I haven't ever booked for a concert or production, like a random Sunday afternoon in December, then I can book earlier.  If they're asking for a Tuesday night in June, the answer is almost certainly no, though they could wait and see if it's available after everyone else has taken a swing at it.

    My biggest thing for others using the space is that there needs to be someone managing the space.  It's tough that we host so many non-high school events, but the only way we can do it without absolute chaos is having handle all of the booking, and plan who needs to strike, and how much, and paying attention to when I need to have equipment on stage, and when things need to get cleaned.  If they want to play at the high school, they need to follow the rules (filling out the paperwork is a great first step), and take a date that's available to them.  If they'd prefer to play at their own school, the acoustics are probably worse, but they can have that prime night that they really wanted.

    Sydney Thiessen
    Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator and Technical Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR

  • 16.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-26-2020 12:12
    Hey neighborino!

    Our space, is a lot like yours (having been in yours MANY times) and the outside bookings can be a logistical nightmare. However, we (choir, band, drama, leadership, AND SPORTS) all get together each spring with blank calendars  for the folloiwng school year- and sit down and coordinate the theatre space usage.  And after doing this for over a decade with the same Leadership instructor, it has gotten way easier.  So - band/choir and I may negotiate a few dates - because of the rotation of hosting district events - but overall I know who and when, as do they in terms of bringing in classes to practice prior to concert nights.  Outside community groups are our "regulars" now - we also know when the ballet recitals, community orchestras, etc. will be asking for their times and facilities usage.  New groups will struggle to find a place - but that's just the way it is.
    When all parties work together for the good of the whole and the safety and welfare of each other AND the space - it is actually a meeting to look forward to going to.

    Janet Van Wess
    Theatre Arts Director
    Liberty High School - Troupe 6644
    Hillsboro, Oregon

  • 17.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-25-2020 11:01
    Hi Kristen,

    I'm in a high school with about 500 kids, and there's a big emphasis placed on sports. That being said, I don't need to build my rehearsal schedules around athletics schedules, except for performance dates, which coincide with the end of the athletics seasons. We do three full productions a year (one musical and two non-), two in our 450+ proscenium theatre and one in our black box that seats anywhere from 60 to 75 depending upon the production. We also do one smaller showcase for the seniors in our theatre program. We start in the fall with auditions during the second week of school. For our non-musical, in fall and spring, we rehearse 5 days a week, from 3:30-5:30, with an occasional Saturday morning three-hour rehearsal when necessary. Our tech week for all three productions begins on the Saturday (with Sunday off), 5 days before we open, and those rehearsals run from 3:30 until we complete the run (or until 9, when things invariably start to fall apart, focus-wise). Our first production is generally the end of the first week in November. I give myself a week between productions for strike, to gather props and costumes, and do a general clean-up. This is done by me and our tech director, with occasional help from the kids. Smaller productions generally have cast sizes of between 10 and 20. Our musical, which is always done in the winter season, has anywhere between 30 and 40, and we take everyone who auditions, so I tend to choose productions where the ensemble has a lot to do. We audition the kids before Thanksgiving so we can hit the ground running once we get back from the long weekend. Rehearsals before Winter Break are usually heavy on the music and character work, knowing that they'll forget about half of it over the two week break.We have about 10 weeks of rehearsal. We perform in mid-February. (There is a 1 to 1 1/2 week period, three weeks before we open, where we lose the stage and our musical director to the Intermediate School musical. I use this time to do character work and rehearse small scenes in the black box theatre. Every year, the Intermediate School petitions for more time on the stage- they rehearse during the academic day- and a later performance date. And every year, the tech director and I go through our rehearsal and build calendar to show the administration that we need those three last weeks without interruptions, so that we can finish the show.) Again, a week between closing and auditions for the spring.
    With the exception of Tech Weeks, I make it point to shut down and leave by 6 pm. When I started teaching, I used to never leave school. But I wasn't married. I didn't have kids, or a house or pets. So there wasn't any pressing need to get home. That all stopped about 30 years ago, and while it took me a few years to get myself organized enough to know that I could get everything done, I am glad that I did. (I still need to do an occasional prop or costume run in the evening or on weekends as the performances get closer.)
    I have made it a department policy not to use class time as rehearsal time. I like to keep my classes as safe spaces, with no performances coming out of the classes, so that my students are comfortable taking creative risks without worrying about outside judgement. (The exception is our final project for the seniors in our "conservatory"-style theatre program, who select materials and rehearse during the second semester of their senior year, with a performance during the last full week of school. There are between 2 and 6 kids in these classes, plus a couple of their techie friends who they wrangle in at the end to hang and focus, set up the black box, and run the show.)
    I think that you have to approach the administration with a rehearsal schedule, to show, on paper, your needs for the performance space. As someone else mentioned, if the school budget relies on these outside groups for rentals, it might be hard sell.

    Break legs!

    Michael Bergman
    He/Him pronouns
    The Potomac School
    McLean, VA

  • 18.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-25-2020 12:21
    Kristen, I'll respond to your question about how to schedule multiple shows.

    The last school where I taught had a "grab your dates" system that was completely unworkable when I started teaching there.  Whoever got to the principal's secretary first when she decided to start filling dates for the next year swept up the dates they wanted, and the rest of us were left trying to fit our performances into whatever was left.  And the school would book rentals over our rehearsal times.  It was a mess.  As a teacher new to the school, I was absolutely bewildered at the lack of process.  The performing arts teachers were angry at each other all the time.

    It got so bad that the school system had to hire a mediator.  She was not much help, but at least the administration knew something had to change.

    We settled on a very simple system.  On a mutually agreed day in the spring, after the school system calendar had been approved, all of the performing arts faculty members and an administrator would sit around a table, calendars in hand, and request our dates from August through May.  We learned to be flexible.  We learned to give and take and to compromise.  We talked over the reasons why a certain date was preferable or necessary and found solutions together.  We began to function as a department of colleagues, and the administrator who sat with us took back the message that rentals had to take a backseat to school performances and rehearsals.

    So I recommend the process, obviously.

    Good luck.

    C. J. Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator
    Asheville NC

  • 19.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 05-31-2020 23:50

    Sydney covered how we do our scheduling of the space (we work at the same school), so I'll answer your other questions:

    What does your rehearsal schedule with more than 2 productions looks like?
    Typically we rehearse M-F for 2-3 hours, depending on the show and the cast, and some Saturdays.  I have put a practice in place that I won't work 2 Saturdays in a row, and I try really hard to stick to that so that at least every other weekend I get 2 full days off.  Pretty much when one show ends, the next show begins.  We rarely rehearse more than one show at a time (exception is when we're doing Shakespeare in the black box - we start really early with text analysis with that, and it does overlap with our winter play).

    We have a couple of weird overlaps.  One is in the winter, with our student directed one acts and the winter main stage play.  We've just created a culture that one acts get the first rehearsal hour, and I get the next two.  So one acts are guaranteed the time and space to rehearse from 3:30-4:30.  If there are scenes I can rehearse without interfering with one acts, then I do.  Otherwise, I start my rehearsals at 4:30.

    The other is the spring children's show.  We used to do it through a class, so students might be in both the children's show and the black box, which perform 2-3 weeks apart.  However, since the children's show is done through a class, they would only have about 7 days of after school rehearsal, so I just had to plan around that.  It was sometimes hard on the kids to be learning multiple scripts at once though.  At one point I had a student working on 5 scripts (2 one acts, the children's show, the winter main stage and the spring black box).  They definitely got a taste of what it was like to work for a rep company!

    This year, we decided not to do the children's show through a class, and instead one of my alumni was directing it for college credit.  In that case, we held auditions for the children's show and black box at the same time, then I cast my show and she cast from those left in the pool.  Unfortunately, neither show got to perform due to C-19.

    Does your season consist of a combo of plays and musicals?
    Yes, we have a fall musical in October or November, student directed one acts at the end of January, winter main stage play at the end of February, a children's play at the end of April and our spring black box play in mid-May.  Sometimes we have another children's show, and that's in mid January.

    Do you have large cast productions?
    Our musicals typically have 30-40 actors, 10-15 backstage, and another 15-20 in the pit.  That's our largest, for sure.  It goes down from there.  Our black box can be anywhere from 10-20, depending on the show, and that's the smallest.

    Are you at the school 24/7?
    Depends on the day! The closer we get to the show, the longer I'm there.  But no, I try to get out of there by 7 on a normal night.

    Do your shows overlap?
    See above

    When do you start your rehearsal for fall shows?
    Mid August, 2-3 weeks before school starts.  It's the same time that fall sports are allowed to start practice.

    Any suggestions on how I can advocate for our school NOT to allow other schools to use our space? (This one might be tricky)
    This one can be tough, but I think the biggest thing is that the space is for the high school programs to use, and therefore they should get priority.  As Sydney said, we do have lots of outside people who use our space - middle schools, elementary schools, community choirs, dance companies - but we always get first dibs (and by we I mean the high school programs).  Most of us use the same general dates over and over - the fall musical is typically on the same weekends each year, the winter main stage is always the same general time, etc. That makes it easier, because even when I haven't given her my dates, Sydney has a good idea of when I want to do things.  That said, if I don't reserve it, I don't get it, so you know I get my dates in as early as possible!  Then if another group wants something around the same time as us, Sydney will approach the teacher of that program and see what compromises can be made.  We've had many times where someone wanted a middle school orchestra concert on a Tuesday between our show weekends.  I said that was fine, but they had to perform with my set still on stage.  Things like that.  We make it work.

    If you can create a culture of "this space is for the high school students, but we're happy to share when we're able" it can definitely help.  We also often have high school students who help work the outside events, running lights, sound, etc. so it's great for them to have that opportunity as well.  So perhaps you can approach it that way - that since the space is for high school students, they should get priority, but that once those events are scheduled others are welcome to schedule around it.

    Laura Steenson
    Theatre Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR

  • 20.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 06-01-2020 13:31

    The one thing you will find in these responses is that, yes, we all work crazy hours, but we all love it or we would not do it. You need to choose a rehearsal schedule that works for you. I don't decide mine until I know which cast members are in sports or MUN after school. Sometimes we start at 3:00 and sometimes 5:00 depending on the students. I ask for all of their conflicts at the audition, then create the entire rehearsal schedule before the first rehearsal so I can plan around it.

    The school schedule part is tricky. I request all of my dates in May for the following year, and I adjust a bit for band and district band events. I am also the activities director, so I plan all of those events around my show schedule. I do a fall play, spring musical and middle school one acts directed by high school students. I also do a middle school all-district musical and an all-district high school musical. I also meet with the other theatre teachers in the district so we can try not to overlap our shows. Our students all want to see each other's shows! The only overlap is fall play and district MS musical because I have another teacher directing that. We just have to work out rehearsal space...I have a very large classroom, so that makes it easier. I require the stage exclusively for two weeks before dress rehearsals to get the set built. We also have a church in the theatre on Sundays, but they are flexible and work around whatever I have built. In the summer I hold a 4 week drama camp for elementary students and we produce a Broadway Jr. play. It is a great way to "train" students so they are ready to do middle school and high school shows, and it help to earn some money for our program.

    Good luck with your season!!!

    Jodi Improta
    Whitney High School
    Cerritos, CA

    Jodi Improta
    Cerritos CA

  • 21.  RE: Season Schedule

    Posted 06-08-2020 07:50

    Hi. Sorry this took me so long! With the end of the year, zoom meetings are piling up, and more time at the computer is really difficult! So, I teach in a small (220 kids in good years, grades 7-12), independent, co-ed day school. We do three performances per year, each coinciding with the end of a trimester. My early to mid-November play is open to all students. The midwinter play is devised and performed by the middle school students (grades 7 and 8). The teacher who runs this performance is also a playwright. The spring play is also open to all. We rarely do musicals, partly because we don't have a pit, partly because we don't have the budget, and partly because I like to offer plays that all sorts of students can shine in, not just the singers and dancers. I never rule them out (we've done Pippin and Working when we had the right casts), but I often find plays that have moments of dance or singing when I have the talent. The program has grown over the years (I'm heading into year 29), so the cast sizes, originally around 8-12 are sometimes up to 25. It varies. We rehearse Mondays through Thursdays from after school (about 2:40) until the bus leaves (4:40). Our only Saturday rehearsal is a Tech Rehearsal from 9-5 two weeks before we open. We also schedule two work days per production, from 9-4, usually on the Monday holiday that coincides with each production and the Friday no school day when teachers are writing progress reports (I write mine mostly the night before). The only time we stay late is production week, Monday and Tuesday usually until 6, Wednesday until 8 (Dress), Thursday is dark. Students are expected to hang around for around an hour after we close to help strike the set.
    We also have two to three concerts in the space each year, and since we have built our new space, we have a lot more interest in outside groups. This means that we have had to change how we conceive of sets. We only get to put them in place the week before tech, and that has been a real challenge to do plays that have box sets.
    Negotiating the space is a constant battle. 

    Hope that helps!

    Elisabeth Ledwell
    Falmouth MA