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1.  Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

Another topic which surfaced in one of the Best Practices sessions at TF 2014 addressed the topic of: How can secondary theatre training be improved in regards to prepare the student about the "real world" of gainful employment after obtaining a college/university degree with an emphasis in any of the following: Acting, Arts Ad, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Musical Theatre, Playwrighting, Technical Theatre, Theatre, Theatre Education, Theatre History, etc.? What are your best practices for Schools to Careers, Jobs, Being your own business manager, realistic survival skills, etc? How do you prepare them for a profession in which jobs are scarce, and pay may be low? What are your best resources? Looking forward to your ideas. ------------------------------------------- Gai Jones Ojai CA -------------------------------------------

2.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

I always tell the kids to have an and theatre option.  I have not been teaching long but most teachers are lucky to have a few kids make it on to professional careers and support themselves doing just theatre.

I think theatre is great but does not always have to be the career and tell kids to prepare for that outcome.  Study business and theatre.  Study education and theatre. Study communications and theatre.  Maybe they can find a career in the theatre world they were not expecting but they can also find a job where they can also participate in community theatre or other local theatre options in their free time.

Even for those kids who have the chops to make it professionally, we've seen and heard from various professionals how important it is to have a more comprehensive view of what needs to be learned, that accidents or injuries happen or you'll need to make that smart money focused choice and you'll want that economics class you took in college to help you out in making the right choice.

There are plenty of opportunities out there for people in theatre, its up to the kids to find what is right for them.
Alan Strait
Henderson NV

3.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

When I was studying acting in college, we had a professional join us for a class who drew up a diagram of priorities. Several small circles filled with valued, though less important items, looped around the perimeter of one large circle which contained the priority of highest personal value. Career/Job was not it for her, but it may be for some. I think it is vital for students to identify (as best one can at 18) their priorities in life. What does success look like to them? Is it making it on Broadway? As a successful regional actor? As a wife and stay at home mother? As a high school theatre teacher? Whatever it may be, students should be encouraged to own their dream. There should be no shame in desiring a bustling life in NYC as opposed to a cozy life in the suburbs, but there should be a solid sense of reality available to them. Students need to be made aware of how incredibly difficult yet fulfilling the pursuit of a professional acting career can be. They need to know that they will have to have a day job. One that allows them to make rent, pay for food and get to auditions.  They also need to understand that there are many other careers in the field of theatre that will allow them to remain immersed in the art form they love without making certain sacrifices. I have found that Acting Professionally by Robert Cohen is a good text to use, however, there is really nothing quite like first hand testimony. Bringing successful individuals from many different theatrical careers into the classroom will help students to see what the possibilities look like for them. I think it's also a good idea to bring in individuals who tried their hand at a life in the theatre but then found success in other fields, encouraging tunnel-visioned students to remain open to other possibilities.  

Chelsey Cavender
Membership Service Specialist
Educational Theatre Association
Hamilton OH

4.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

There is a LOT here to comment on - books have been written... I will say this in response to the idea that you should council kids to have a back up plan.  I tell them to follow their heart, if they need to act (and you should only go into this profession if it is a NEED, it's too hard for anything less) then they should go for it no holds barred.  That means getting the best training you can and committing 100%.  Most won't make it as actors - that's the reality, but I think if you go in giving it less than 100% you are pretty much guaranteeing that outcome.  If you don't have another passion - say being an architect- then if you don't make it as an actor you will be entering the job market at the entry level position - and for that, nobody cares what your degree is in. My experience is they even like the theatre degree because to them it means you are comfortable public speaking etc.  The other choice at that point in your life is to go back for a MA in something else.  If you do have another passion, then you should probably do that.  Most of the jobs in the world do not require specialized training - the ones that do - arts, engineering, medicine, law, etc. you need to dedicate your life to.  If a kid double majors or minors in acting to "hedge their bets" but they plan on being an actor, then they are really just hurting themselves by not training as hard as their competition.  Doesn't mean they won't succeed, but it seems to me like they are stacking the deck against themselves.
So that is the advice I give to students and parents.  To prepare them for that strong secondary education, I stress professionalism in my training.  I try to be sure that they move to that next level of training with strong professional habits in place already.  The rules of professionalism that actors live by are highly valued in every career.  Being on time, hard work, etc. - that training will help them even if they don't make it.  
As for what I would like to see in secondary ed... I obviously like immersive programs with acting training, movement, speech, tech, stage combat, the works!  I would like them to also stress professionalism (most do) but also classes in marketing yourself, the business end of theatre.  I would love it if students left a program with a fully vetted headshot and resume and a good idea of what to do with them.  

Anyway, that's my .02
Jeffrey Davis
Plainsboro NJ

5.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

I read this blog yesterday and was reminded of this thread. I found it really thought-provoking.

Cora Turlish
Metuchen NJ

6.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

Honestly, I'm not sure it is our place to prepare high school students for the world of professional theatre. We are not conservatories (well, most of us are not) and we are not universities or colleges. I see our role as three fold: allow our curriculum to be guided by the standards (national, state) as those were created and worked on by theatre educations professionals who understand adolescent development as well as the pedagogy of theatrical education; offer our community (which is disparate in its ability to offer students a wide variety of theatre--I live in the Twin Cities which has the highest number of theaters per capita than any other city, including NYC) of both students and their families exposure to what theatre involves (it's not just "I've got some costumes in the barn" kind of thing); and provide a method of education for those students who have interest in and excel at various intelligences. While our district's Advanced course (and the corresponding Capstone requirement) involves a unit which asks students to explore a career in the arts other than performance, I am not sure there is a necessity to do more than that when there is so much other brilliance that students of drama can take away into other areas of their lives and learning. Besides, even if they don't all become professional theatre artists, they could all become audiences...enlightened, appreciative (and funding) audiences.

Lori Constable
Teacher; director of Drama
Independent District 112
Chanhassen MN

7.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

We talked about this very topic at conference in Minneapolis last year in a small group meeting at the Guthrie and the conscientious among the group was to put forth professionalism by being professional. That doesn't mean that our goal is to produce theater professionals, rather to honor the work at hand and allow students to experience a professional atmosphere (as best we can) so that in their latter years in college and career they have a referent to compare the current to the past. I think in this way we honor the students who see theater as an avocation while providing an experience for students who may wish to pursue the Art Form as vocation. ------------------------------------------- Michael Johnson Trinity NC -------------------------------------------

8.  RE: Best Practices for Classes, Rehearsals, Etc Question 2

My focus has never been on "You could get a job in the lucrative career of ACTING!" but rather, I focus on the benefit of self discovery, and I focus on the cross-career skills of stagecraft, which several states see as a CTE area, and the benefit to the students placed at-risk. I received a grant to hold a summer school session of stagecraft, as our school doesn't have it yet. Of my 11 kids, 9 were low SES, 8 were not involved in any extracurricular activity, 2 were from our alternative school; in fact, many took the class only because they needed to make up credits, and our class was the only free option (due to the grant). However, every student learned more than just about stagecraft, and we were able to take them to see Wicked, and Young Frankenstein, which they would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. One of my students in his reflection said it best... you can see his reflection here . He's 18 and given me permission to use it, (also included in each of the three groups listed above). He was geared to working construction, or plastic part manufacturing (two largest employers in our area) and now, he's thinking broader... but even if he does go into construction of manufacturing, he has found a new interest, and that might help him stay out of "trouble" which is the the largest reason people loose their jobs in Atlantic. ------------------------------------------- Matthew Smith Director Atlantic IA -------------------------------------------

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