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Producorial Responsibility #2: An Emphasis on Arts Education

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  1. Douglas D. Fox says:

    1) don’t insult teachers as you did many times in this article. To teach theatre in those states that certify you for it you will be amply trained.

    2) time for you to get out of ivory tower of Manhattan and see the good thing happening in high school theatre elsewhere. A good place to start: the International Thespian Society’s annual Thespian Festival at the end of June. (look it up, easy to find info and you WILL be impressed with what the students do!)

    3) a major part of the problem lies with funding and testing. No funds but for testing and the classes that are tested. Arts are seen as a “frill,” a “nice to have, but expendable” not a necessity. Change the perception and commitment of the boards of ed and administrations.

    4) one thing that any producer could do immediately and every theater could too — have AFFORDABLE (best free considering students have to pay for transportation) MATINEES that start at 9:30/10:00 AM so schools can bring students to see shows. Experiencing live performance goes along way in building the desire to do performance. With careful selection of plays can get English and history classes too (ex.: Crucible hits English, history, theatre and psychology – mob hysteria. And then all the classics read in classes: Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Death of a Salesman, Oedipus Rex, A Doll’s House, Our Town) Students who can barely read and decode a script will “get it” when they see it. Far better to see a live production than to view a film from ages ago (as in gag – Zefferelli’s Rome & Juliet)

    5) Run summer camps, Saturday camps, after school camps.

    6) VOLUNTEER time in the schools after school to help them mount a show

    7) LOAN GRATIS set pieces, props, costumes, lighting/sound equipment to help mount the show.

    8) Don’t condemn and dismiss the teachers — bring them in as interns or in some way provide professional development that raises their standards and abilities (they have to get PD to maintain renewal and it is sorely lacking for theatre folk)


    • Sorry if you felt I was condemning, insulting, or dismissing teachers – certainly not my intent – I work with teachers every day of my life and come from a family of teachers – I would consider MYSELF a teacher. Any chance you could let me know where specifically you felt I was insulting teachers in this piece?

  2. Blake Wilson says:

    Ron— Great article and one that really puts its finger on many of the things I’ve witnessed in my own work with schools and students. Our schools are full of people who DO care and who DO have opinions and ambitions. And it’s incumbent upon theatre artists to help tap that potential (even if others are unwilling or unable to).

    The long term health of the performing arts in this country depends our our ability to grow our audiences…but you can only do that, in my view, by widening the field of stakeholders.

    As with any civic activity, participation goes up when people begin to believe that their involvement will actually matter (either to themselves or to the ultimate outcome). And that’s where arts educators come in.

    For me, the most powerful experiences I’ve had in the theatre have taken place in the creation of theatre rather than in the viewing of it. That’s why I feel so strongly that theatre artists should engage with communities and engage with young people as much as possible.

    But that’s a tough issue for a lot of theatres…true engagement means sharing the power and giving others a seat at the table. That’s tough to do when a theatre has been locked into particular ways of working.


  3. Arts Education – ArtsNFashion Magazine Winter Issue 2011 (Page 45)
    HOW I LEARNED TO LOOK AWAY FROM THE MONITOR BY DAVID WIENER
    “Do some stretches at least once an hour.”
    “Don’t get locked into staring at the screen.”
    “Look away from the screen every half hour or so.”
    Very good advice from occupational health-care professionals. The question is, what do you do while you ’ re looking away? I started looking around and what I saw were plenty of arts and theatre programs running into plenty of money trouble, resulting in plenty of cutting back and cutting down. The reasons for these money troubles are many and
    various and they aren’t likely to change any time soon. I decided to leave the debates and fist-fights to the
    accountants and the politicians and just concentrate on what I could do to help while the shouting goes on (and
    on). What I found was “educational voluntarism;” in my case, offering my services as a lecturer in theatre, writing, and related subjects. It definitely requires an investment in time, effort, and research – but the experience is well worth it. Basically, you create a multi-media monologue on a specific topic tailored to a particular age group. The youngest group I’ve lectured to was a combined class of advanced theatre students at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California; the oldest would probably be late-career professionals at the Lipinsky Institute at San Diego State
    University. I’ve also donated lectures to UC Irvine and the Osher Institute at UCSD (the most recent was June 2012). The wide variety of arts-volunteer activity going on all over San Diego County is recognized each year by the San Diego Performing Arts League with their SDPAL Star Awards. Scores of people have received this award over the past two decades, which says a lot about volunteer involvement with the local arts (I received a Star Award in 2010 for my education and outreach work with the San Diego Shakespeare Society). As a supplementary activity to playwrighting, I’d have to say that lecturing is one of the healthiest ways to “look away from the monitor.” It also provides help where it’s badly needed – and will almost certainly be needed for some time to come.

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