Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

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22 Musicals in 12 Minutes

April 10, 2021

Lin Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, James Corden

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Arts Education Month

March 2, 2021

YAHOOOOO and Happy Arts Education Month!

I know this March is a bit different than other years but we as visual and performing arts educators still have important work to do – celebrating and raising up the voices of our students in the arts. The creative minds of arts educators are serving you well, as you plan and implement a way to recognize the accomplishments of your students in the arts. CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU to all the educators who provide an excellent arts education and access to it for learners of all ages. I know that you are proud of your students and I encourage you to take advantage of this month designated to celebrate arts education. Whether you do it in a small or large way, please let me know about the work you are doing so I can include your story on this blog. Your good ideas should be shared so others can learn from you! I appreciate your ongoing commitment to providing THE BEST visual and performing arts education!

Take advantage of Arts Education Month to engage others in the conversation of why a quality arts education is essential for all students. Use the Commissioner of Education Pender Makin’s message, posted on this blog yesterday, to help others understand what we know to be important.

If you’re looking for resources each of the national professional organizations below have a plethora of information on their websites. Check them out and consider becoming members to support their good work.

NAEA

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The National Art Education Association has been celebrating Youth Art Month since the 1960’s. Check out what NAEA has to offer on the topic. The purpose of YAM is to emphasize the value to children from participating in visual art education. 

CFAE

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The Council for Art Education provides tons of resources to help you plan. They have ideas on their site that teachers and students are engaged in across the country. The ideas range from school based to community, both large and small. You can sign up for their free newsletter and receive information on a regular basis.

NAfME

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The National Association for Music Education has been recognizing Music in Our Schools Month since 1985. The idea started in 1973. You can learn what NAfME has to offer on MIOSM by CLICKING HEREThe purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that schools is where all children should have access to music.

EDTA

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The Educational Theatre Association and the International Thespian Society and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) all provide resources for theater educators. Their resources are directed towards Thespians, schools, and educators. The purpose is to raise public awareness of the impact of theatre education and draw attention to the need for more access to quality programs for all students.

NDEO

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The National Dance Education Organization celebrates the artistic and academic achievements of exceptional students through the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NAHSDA) by teaming up with the US Department of Education during March. Learn more about their advocacy work by CLICKING HERE.

As you’re contemplating your March celebration checking out a blog post from the past with more resources. CLICK HERE

AFTA

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Americans for the Arts envisions a country where everyone has access to—and takes part in—high quality and lifelong learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community. Their arts education council represents a cross section of the country so all voices are represented. The Americans for the Arts website has a plethora of resources on arts education. Check them out by CLICKING HERE.

ARTS ADVOCACY DAY

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We know that arts-rich schools benefit everyone. It is our responsibility to help others who may not understand this statement. Arts Education month provides that opportunity and in the near future the Maine Alliance for Arts Education will be sharing a video of Arts Education Advocacy Day that took place on February 17, 2021.

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Tabernacle Choir

December 25, 2020

With a story

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MALI Becomes MAEPL

December 8, 2020

Teacher Network Rebrands its Commitment to Arts Education

The Teacher Leader network known as MALI, or Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, has taken on the new mantle of MAEPL, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership, with the revised mission to develop and promote high quality arts education for all.” Leaders of MAEPL say the new name and mission statement better encapsulates what this community of arts educators has been and will continue to be. The process evolved as a result of bringing in new staff and expanding the organization’s leadership structure. Jake Sturtevant, music educator at Falmouth High School, longtime MALI member and Chair of the MAEPL Vision Team, said, “We are still committed to partnering with each other to be resilient, compassionate, and curious Teacher Leaders for our students and in our communities.”

2014 Summer MALI Institute

MALI, now MAEPL, a program of the Maine Arts Commission, is a unique teacher leader development program specifically for preK-12 visual and performing arts (VPA) educators from across the state, one of the very few in the country.  Led by active educators, they focus on the emerging needs of the field.  Components of the year-long program for both classroom teachers and teaching artists in all arts disciplines include community-building, an annual Individualized Professional Development Plan, structured mutual accountability, and leadership development. Over 120 Maine VPA teachers, as well as teaching artists, have participated in the last ten years.  

Even before the pandemic, teachers of the arts often felt isolated.  School district-level trainings are often geared towards general or “core” subject teachers.  “I’m only one of two in my district teaching elementary music.  We are in our little islands, far from anyone else doing what we do,” said Kate Smith, 2014 York County Teacher of the Year and MAEPL Program Team Leader.  “MALI changed all that.” 

Pamela Kinsey, Lori Spruce, Kate Smith, Pam Chernesky, Julie Richard, Winter Retreat 2020

This past year the group took a deep dive into their own organizational structure, assessing and clarifying their policies and processes. Even through the pandemic, the Leadership Teams met and solicited input from the entire membership, and determined a new name, a refined mission, and a new logo. “We chose the whirling maple seed pod as our new symbol because we felt it reflected the best of what we do – taking new ideas, learning and sharing together, then planting them throughout our school communities,” said Jennie Driscoll, visual art educator at Brunswick High School and Vision Team member. “It’s got our energy.”  

In 2020 they also delivered a virtual Summer Institute to 50 VPA educators, addressing the social and emotional resiliency needed this year. In addition, many members led efforts to support and connect with other teachers quickly adjusting to online instruction, leading virtual seminars through the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission.

Group exercise at Winter Retreat, 2020

 “MALI grew a wealth of resources and committed members over the years,” said the current Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas, referring to the online Resource Bank and Arts Assessment Resources website, available free to all teachers. “We wanted to build on those strengths.” In addition to the professional development programs, next steps include creating an advisory council, streamlining their web presence, and continued advocacy for the sector. 

The group formed in 2010 to focus on student assessments, an emerging need for visual and performing arts teachers at that time. After learning from other states, a small group of educators led by Argy Nestor, the former Director of Arts Education at the Commission, Rob Westerberg, Choral Director at York High School, and Catherine Ring, former school administrator and art teacher, created the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. They established the multi-day Summer Institute, sharing a framework and best practices for successful arts assessment in the classroom. “We quickly became the assessment experts in our schools,” said Sturtevant. 

Hope Lord and Adele Drake, MALI Summer Institute 2017

In 2015 the group added “teacher voice” and advocacy to their mission, becoming the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), again addressing emerging needs of the sector. “I never would have thought to seek out leadership positions, continue my graduate studies, or have presented at conferences without the support and influence of MALI,” said Iva Damon, visual art teacher and Humanities Department Head at Leavitt Area High School.    

For more information about MAEPL, and to learn about how to get involved, contact Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas at martha.piscuskas@maine.gov. Arts education resources developed over the years are accessible through the Maine Arts Commission’s website, https://mainearts.maine.gov/pages/programs/maai.

The Maine Arts Commission is a state agency supporting artists, arts organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers to advance the arts in Maine since 1966.  www.Mainearts.com


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Maine Theater Fund

November 27, 2020

Awards $76,000 in Grants

PORTLAND & ELLSWORTH—The Maine Theater Fund of the Maine Community Foundation has awarded 17 grants that total $76,829 to support professional and community theaters in the production and presentation of live theater.

Grace and Jenny of Bana Mboka lead the audience in Congolese dance during a 2019 performance at Mayo Street Arts. Photo Vanessa Marcoux, MSA

GRANT RECIPIENTS

  • Everyman Repertory TheatreRockport, to present the 2021 season of plays that celebrate the arts in Maine and the state’s history
  • Friends of St. Lawrence ChurchPortland, to supplement operating funds for maintenance of the Parish Hall Theater
  • Mayo Street ArtsPortland, to renovate the box office and concessions area to ADA standards
  • Acadia Repertory TheatreSomesville, to replace the theatre’s 40-year-old lighting system: $3,000
  • Arts & Cultural Alliance of Freeport, for the purchase of a sound system for Meetinghouse Arts:  $5,000
  • Chocolate Church Arts CenterBath, to replace ticketing and donation system: $5,000
  • Community Little TheaterAuburn, for the theatrical rights and expenses for the production of AR Gurney’s Love Letters: $4,000
  • Crowbait ClubPortland, for “King of Crows IX,” the yearly production of the winners of the monthly Theatre Deathmatch for 10-minute plays: $2,000
  • Dramatic Repertory CompanyPortland, to fund the 2020-2021 season, including two Maine premier productions: $5,000
  • Everyman Repertory TheatreRockport, to present the 2021 season of plays that celebrate the arts in Maine and the state’s history: $5,000
  • Friends of St. Lawrence ChurchPortland, to supplement operating funds for maintenance of the Parish Hall Theater: $3,000
  • Marsh River TheaterBrooks, for new lights: $5,000
  • Mayo Street ArtsPortland, to renovate the box office and concessions area to ADA standards: $5,000
  • Midcoast Actors StudioBelfast, to provide quality year-round theatre opportunities in the new performance space at the former Waldo County Courthouse    $5,000
  • Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation, to help offset the costs of COVID-19 personal protective equipment and safety upgrades for the 2021 season re-opening: $5,000
  • Portland Lyric Theater, to install an air purification system to improve indoor air quality, preparing for safe opening: $5,000
  • Saco River Theatre, to complete construction of staff/performer restrooms in the basement of the building           : $5,000
  • Terra Moto Inc.South Portland, to produce MAINEUSA: The History of Maine from the Ice Age till Now in July 2021 at Portland Players Theater followed by statewide performances: $5,000
  • Theater at Monmouth, to produce TopDog/UnderDog by Suzan Lori Parks as part of TAM’s (R)evolutionary Season Redux: $5,000
  • Waldo Theatre Inc., to purchase and install essential flame-retardant stage masking curtains and the required stage rigging: $4,829

An anonymous couple who recognized the connection between vibrant communities and support for the arts established the Maine Theater Fund in 2005 to strengthen and sustain theater performance throughout the state. 

Awards are typically between $2,500 and $5,000. The next deadline for applications is September 15, 2021. Guidelines, application and a list of recent grants are available at www.mainecf.org. The 2020 grants are also listed below.

If you have questions please contact Carl Little, Communications Manager, Maine Community Foundation.

Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockport, and Mars Hill, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.mainecf.org.

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Morse High School Theater

November 25, 2020

On the lawn performance

Our Town was performed by Morse High School students in October outside on the school lawn. Kevin O’Leary teaches drama teacher, 9th grade English and is responsible for the drama program at Morse High School.

Kevin explained the situation for performing this fall.

We had five platforms, distanced 14 feet apart (think of the black dots on dice). When an actor was on the platform, he/she/they removed the mask. When the actors were on the periphery, they kept their mask on. In a word, all masks stayed on until the actors stepped onto the platform. No actor was ever closer than 14 feet from platform to platform. We allowed only 25 audience members per show. All audience members (4 or 5 per side of the squared acting area) were masked and were at least 14 feet away from the unmasked actor on the platform. It’s a good thing we did the show prior to the new guidelines. We would not be able to do this now. Here’s to better days ahead.

I couldn’t agree more with Kevin – better days ahead! If you have questions for Kevin please email him at koleary@rsu1.org

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Support the Theatre

November 20, 2020

I LOVE this and hope you will also love this! Filmed London’s West End the song is from The Greatest Showman and is reminding us that the theatre community needs our support.

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Freeport High School Theatre

November 3, 2020

Antigone Now

At the end of October Freeport High School theatre program created something pretty special! Everyone felt the success and benefits from students and staff to administration and the community.

I met Natalie Safely about 3 years ago when she and dancer Nancy Salmon worked together after receiving a dance grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Natalie is the theatre teacher at Freeport High School. I had a chance to chat with Nancy last week and she mentioned the work that Natalie did this fall. I was impressed!

At our first meeting in the spring of 2019 I visited Freeport High School to learn more about the dance residency and the teaching and learning underway. I immediately noticed Natalie was an outstanding collaborator! This fall Natalie worked with Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino, and Ben Potvin and Freeport students and in five weeks they put together and performed the play Antigone Now. It is a GREAT example of the amazing work that takes place when we collaborate and focus on the pathway and possibilities! Looking at the file of photos taken by parent Ingrid van Duivenbode illustrates the magic of the performance. It was performed outside practicing appropriate pandemic safety abiding by the CDC guidelines.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Antigone Now, by Melissa Cooper was performed by Freeport High School’s Theatre Arts program on October 23, 24, 25. Nancy Salmon was fortunate to attend and she said: “My husband and I saw the 2nd night of Antigone Now at Freeport High School, tucked into a U-shaped alcove outdoors. We were SO impressed by and proud of the students (on “stage” and tech), the directing staff and the administration who made this COVID-safe, live performance of quality, resonating theater a welcome relief from Zoom.

They had to keep the cast and crew under 50 in order to be able to rehearse indoors.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

I am grateful to Natalie that she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

How did you come up with the idea to perform outside?

When schools closed last March, we were working on two different productions. As the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, we soon realized that our stage, like thousands of others, would remain dark. We didn’t know when we would be able to perform again. During a socially distanced walk with a friend, I was explaining how we couldn’t do a musical, how we can’t dance, and on and on. She said, “Natalie, why don’t you do a play with masks?” I was too close to the situation. I was focused on all of the things we couldn’t do instead of focusing on the things we could do! Sometimes, we get in our own way. When we are able to look outside ourselves: other perspectives, other options, other interpretations, the impossible becomes possible. With perseverance and flexibility we were able to create a live piece of theatre that six months ago seemed impossible.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

What did it involve taking the performance out of doors?

In two words: Ben Potvin…It was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The first challenge was agreeing where on campus we could put up a set that had access to power, where cars would not drive by and where we would not be competing with sporting events and practices. When we finally agreed on a location, then came the logistics of building a moveable set. Once we got into tech week the lighting and sound had to be set up and taken down each night. We set up the soundboard in a classroom that acted like a booth where the stage manager called the cues, sound board op and spot operator ran their cues from there, however we had to set the light board up in a different location because we couldn’t keep social distancing with four students in the area we were using as a booth.  The sound was our biggest challenge. There were so many outdoor factors that came into play: airplanes flying over, sound from the traffic on I-95, masks and mic placement, sound signals cutting in and out for a variety of reasons. When I approached my principal, I said, “No problem, we can do it outside!” It took a knowledgeable tech director (Ben Potvin) to work through a lot of logistical challenges.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

How did you keep the students safe while practicing, creating set, and performing?

Everyone had to use hand sanitizer before entering the space and throughout rehearsal. Longer rehearsals everyone was reminded to take a moment to wash their hands. Masks were worn by all inside and out.To keep the actors safe during rehearsal we put tape marks on the floor indicating 6 feet distancing, no actors shared props–we did have one prop that needed to be brought on by one actor and then used by another–as a cast we figured out that he could wear rubber gloves to bring it on stage. The actors did not wear makeup, they executed their own hair design, put on their own microphones and did not have any costume changes. During tech calls, all tools were sanitized before and after each use. Techs wore masks when working inside and outside as well as maintaining social distancing.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Tell a bit about the support and from who to make it happen

Our principal, Jen Gulko, is incredibly supportive of our program. After explaining to her how we would adhere to all guidelines she approved our pursuit of producing a fall play. 

We have an amazing artistic team: Ben Potvin (Technical Director), Nate Menifield (Music Director) and Zoe Konstantio ( Choreographer) and myself as Director and Producer.  These positions were in place for the fall musical, however we quickly transitioned our roles to put on a play in 5 weeks.  It took each member of the team to make this happen! Nate focused on the text analysis and vocal performance, Zoe and I focused on staging and movement, and Ben focused on the tech. With each one of us able to focus on one area, the students were more focused and remained on task.

I hope that this blog post provides you with inspiration to figure out how you also can perform with your students. I’ve included the Press Release below so you can get the full impact and hopefully take away some ideas that you can adapt for your own work this year.

Antigone Now, FALL PLAY, PRESS RELEASE

A battle for honor takes place in Freeport High School’s upcoming production of Antigone Now, a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, written by Melissa Cooper.

Contact: Natalie Safley, 207-865-4706 ext. 801, safleyn@rsu5.org

October 12, 2019

Freeport, ME– “Theatre artists have been wearing masks since 400BC, so why can’t we?”  said Natalie Safley, Theatre Arts Director at Freeport High School, when discussing their upcoming fall play performance. When schools shut down last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of theaters also went dark, cancelling shows across the country. Once Safley learned that RSU 5 was going to return to school this fall under a hybrid plan (where students attend in person part of the time), she immediately reached out to FHS Principal, Jen Gulko, to discuss doing a fall production.  Maine CDC guidelines prevent musical performances at this time, and currently limit outdoor gatherings to 100. Safley and Gulko determined that a small-cast fall play – produced outside and in accordance with all current safety guidelines – could take place. Safley rushed to choose a script, gather her artistic team, and conduct auditions.  Of the experience, she notes, “Putting together a show in 5 weeks instead of 10 is an unbelievable undertaking, but FHS accepted the challenge!”  

Playscripts, Inc. describes this adaptation as a “…contemporary response to the myth of Antigone…” Antigone (played by FHS junior, Ella Vertenten) strives to bury her brother, Polyneices, with honor, defying a decree from the king (who also happens to be her uncle) that, “No one may bury him, no one may touch him. It’s against the law.” Drama ensues as the characters fight to preserve the laws of the city while keeping the family intact.  

All performances will be held outdoors, Friday-Sunday, October 23-25, at 7PM, adjacent to the entrance to the Joan Benoit Samuelson Stadium (30 Holbrook St., Freeport, Maine). Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. All patrons must wear a mask, practice social distancing, and should bring a blanket or chair to sit on. 

Purchase tickets to live performances here:http://bit.ly/FHSAntigone

Direction: Natalie Safley, Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino

Technical Direction: Ben Potvin

* Patrons must bring their own chair or blanket to sit on

*Masks and Social Distancing in place 

Contact Natalie Safley, safleyn@rsu5.org

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Helpless

October 23, 2020

Hamilton

Hamilton is a story about hope, revolution, and love. The original cast of Hamilton singing “Helpless” will have you moving and smiling. How might you incorporate this into your curriculum this year? Let me count the ways!

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Virtual Theatre Game Night

October 21, 2020

Maine high school students are invited to participate in a virtual theater game night. The Maine Thespians officers will lead participants in an interactive workshop at no cost. Mark your calendars and join teens from across the state – Sunday, October 25, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. This event is provided by the Maine Educational Theater Association.

For more information CLICK HERE! To register CLICK HERE!

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