Posts Tagged ‘theatre’


The Addams Family Musical

October 29, 2017

Messalonskee High School Players

‘Buh buh da do *snap* *snap*’… The MHS Players bring that classic tune from The Addams Family to the stage on Nov. 17, 18, and 19. The dark humor of this dysfunctional family reminds us that love conquers all. Wednesday trades her pigtails for an engagement ring and hilarity ensues when her boyfriend’s Ohioan family meet the dark and sinister members of the Addams clan. Storms, ghostly ancestors, rhymes, the color yellow, and love?! It’s all there for the older fans of the 1960s t.v. show to reminisce over while introducing younger members of the audience to the darkly comedic family. The performance by the Messalonskee High School Players is under the guidance of the new director, Shelby Thibodeau, herself an alumnus of Players. In addition, the Players are pleased to welcome as the new musical director, Mike Peterson, a long time music teacher in the district.  The actors are currently honing their singing and dancing while the crew hand craft the ghostly costumes of the living and the dead and build the Addams Family mansion on stage at the Messalonskee High School Performing Arts Center.  All are welcome on Nov. 17 and 18 at 7:00 pm and on Nov. 19 at 2:00 in the afternoon. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults.










Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Rick Osann

April 4, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the sixth blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 76 posted to date. Thank you Rick for sharing your story!

Rick Osann teaches grades 9-12, Theatre, Film & Video at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish. He has been teaching for 13 years, 11 at Bonny Eagle. His courses include Theatre 1 and 2, Stagecraft, Film History, and Video Production. The theatre classes are all experiential learning classes. In Theatre 1 students produce a children’s play that tours the elementary schools. In Theatre 2 students write their own play and perform at an evening at the high school. In Stagecraft students design and build the scenery for the main stage productions. The Stagecraft class has won a “Set Design Commendation” at the One Act Festival for the last several years! Rick has about 80 students per term between four classes.

In addition to classes, Rick serves as Drama Club and Thespian Society Advisor. Thespian Society is a dramatics honor society sponsored by Maine Educational Theatre Association. He directs two main stage productions per year, a full length play in the fall and a one act play in the winter, taking part in the Maine Drama Festival, and Rick serves as Producer for their spring musical. In addition, he  volunteers as State Chapter Director of the Maine Educational Theatre Association.

What do you like best about being a theater educator?

I often tell my friends I get to go to work and play every day. Now, this is not saying I don’t work hard. I spend more hours working and work harder each of those hours than I did before I was teaching. The difference is that I totally believe that what I am doing is important and meaningful. When I was in high school I was totally passionate about theatre and I love having the opportunity to share this passion with students. Theatre is a place to create magic- we bring into existence whole worlds out of our imagination, and then we invite the public to live in our world for a couple of hours. It is a life-changing experience to create a moment of extraordinary beauty on the stage!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  • Be passionate- We need to be passionate about our art and believe it is the most important study that our students will experience in school. I often tell my students that our theatre class is the best place to learn the skills they will need to succeed in the modern world. We study and practice collaboration, creativity, communication- all the 21st century skills- and we do them with a strict deadline. Business leaders are recognizing this!
  • Love- We need to love our students and support their own passions. Sometimes this isn’t easy!
  • Learn- Keep learning something new every day.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

It is so important for students to understand what they are doing well and where they can improve. Traditional grading methods average out student strengths and weaknesses. Proficiently Based Education (PBE) identifies for the student each individual strength and weakness and how to improve.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Getting a handle on PBE is challenging! Working with MALI has forced me and helped me to make my own assessment practices more genuine so they’re meaningful for my students.

What are you most proud of in your career?

We just won the Maine Drama Festival Class A State Championship!! This was pretty darn exciting. I am incredibly proud of how well my students worked together and supported each other to reach this goal. It was an honor to help these students grow and mature through their years in high school. A long time ago it was pretty spectacular working on the film, “The Muppets Take Manhattan”!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

There is never enough time to do all the things we know we should do to help our students. I struggle to get my priorities straight to balance home, family, classes, theatre, and volunteer work. There are so many important things we can do to help our students and sometimes I worry I’m not doing any of them well enough.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I still consider my first teaching job to be my greatest moment of “luck”. Sylvia Pease, Superintendent of SAD #55, will always be my angel for hiring an inexperienced teacher and giving me this chance. I would like to think she recognized in all of my “non-teaching experiences” something that might be of value to students.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Believe in what you do and the importance of every moment you share with your students. You are making a difference in many lives. Be confident that what you do and say MATTERS, even when it looks otherwise.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Create more opportunities that would encourage students to get involved in theatre. Open a theatre somewhere? We went to London over February break and saw that the upcoming London production of “Hamilton” is enabling them to renovate and open a theatre that has been closed for over 50 years. Awesome!

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

When I was fresh out of graduate school, my wife encouraged me to try teaching public school. I thought it was crazy, when my degree qualified me to teach at the college level, that I would need to go back to school to teach at the high school level. What a fool I was! When I finally took the education classes after about 30 years in various careers, I realized how helpful and important they were. I don’t regret my other careers and learned a tremendous amount from the experiences, but I wish I had listened to my wife and started teaching sooner. The past 13 years have been my very best!


Playwrights Festival

March 18, 2017

Maine Educational Theatre Association

Please make a plan to join us on Saturday, June 3rd, for the Maine Educational Theatre Association’s seventh annual Maine Young Playwrights’ Festival, to be held at Portland Stage Company in Portland!

MYPF celebrates Maine’s high school writers and offers an opportunity for students to see and hear their plays on stage, in front of an audience, and with feedback from professional writers to help them improve their work. This year’s Maine Young Playwrights Festival will be held from 10:00am to 4:30pm on June 3rd and includes both theater workshops and performances of student work.

We’d like to see as many student scripts showcased in one day as we can! The format is open for student work at any level of development!  Plays will be performed in workshop settings and on the Portland Stage Mainstage.  Performances may range from seated readings of scenes to staged readings to fully produced plays, and from 5 minutes to 40 minutes.

The cost for this full day event is only ​$10.00 per participant.  Adults and members of Thespian Society troupes are ​$5.00.  You may choose to join us for lunch for $6.00 per person, or bring your own food for your group.

We’re open for submissions of student-written scripts for the festival right now!

*  Submit a student script by Friday, April 14, by completing the Script Submission Form (see link below) and emailing the script​

Maine Young Playwrights Festival Script Submission form

*  We will respond by Monday, April 24, to let you know how your play will be scheduled into the festival. You and your students can then prepare a presentation of the play at whatever level works for your schedule and participants (from a simple reading to full production).

*  Once your student script has been scheduled, you’ll then need to register participants by Monday, May 15 (We’ll send you a link to the forms after you submit a script. They’re really quick and easy)

Please contact Maine EdTA board members Dan Burson, or Rick Osann, with any questions about this year’s Young Playwrights Festival.

We hope you and your students can take part in this celebration of Maine’s high school playwrights this June 3rd!


Theatre in CA

October 15, 2016

Annette Bening Testifies in Support

The following was published on the California Alliance for Arts Education website on September 26, 2016.

Today, Governor Jerry Brown corrected a longstanding injustice in California’s arts education delivery system, and set the course for a brighter future for California’s students by signing SB 916 (Allen) into law, legislation that will establish single-subject teaching credentials in dance and theatre.

This is an issue that has burned in the hearts and minds of arts education advocates since 1970, when dance and theatre credentials were eliminated by the Ryan Act. Since then, teachers could only teach dance after obtaining a credential in Physical Education, and an English credential to teach theatre. Twice, legislative efforts to create these credentials were vetoed by the governor at that time.

Earlier this year, Senator Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, decided to take up the issue and introduced Senate Bill 916, the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!). This effort picked up many vocal allies along the way, including actress Annette Bening, who testified on behalf of the bill in the Senate Education Committee. SB 916 made it through both houses of the legislature without a negative vote, buoyed by the support of the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, and a multitude of organizations and individuals across the state, including 750 advocates who responded to the Alliance’s advocacy campaign and sent letters to Governor Brown in support of the bill!

We would like to acknowledge the support of Kathryn Lynch, our lobbyist in Sacramento, who has shepherded all three efforts to enact this legislation; as well as Gai Jones, former president of the California Educational Theatre Association, who has been fighting for this change since the seventies. We are also grateful for the contributions of individuals including Malissa Shriver, Donn Harris, Dennis Mangers, Tiffany Mok, Ginger Fox, Jessy Kronenberg and members of the California Dance Education Association, and Carol Hovey and members of the California Educational Theatre Association. Finally, we’d like to thank all the dedicated arts education advocates like you for your commitment and support for this measure.

Assembly Bill 2862 (O’Donnell) was also signed into law today, legislation that authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the Instructional Quality Commission, to recommend to the State Board of Education revisions to the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards. The bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt, reject, or modify any revisions by January 31, 2019.

California’s Visual and Performing Arts standards are one of the oldest sets of state standards that have not been revised or had a framework revision, and are in urgent need of an update to allow students to benefit from current curriculum, instruction, and instructional materials. This measure will enable California to update VAPA standards for students in grades pre-K through 12.

We will be dancing—and quoting Shakespeare—in the streets tonight! Thank you, Governor Brown!

This youtube video is the recording of Annette Bening testifying.


Core Arts Theatre Standards

January 3, 2015

TYA/USA Professional Development
Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.42.15 PMSpecial Guest James Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy for the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
Wednesday January 14, 2015 Noon to 1:15 CST

This session will present an introduction of the purpose, structure, web-based environment, and state adoption strategies of the new Core Theatre Standards. The presenter will offer an overview of the creation of the standards, the philosophy and framework elements behind it, a tour of the website, and future plans around standards-based professional development, instructional resources, and advocacy. The session will also include periodic and concluding Q&A opportunities.

By attending this workshop, participants will be able to….

1. Understand the structure and purpose of the new core standards and their applicability to in and after school theatre education programs taught by certified educators and/or teaching artists
2. Gain literacy around the web-based environment of the standards
3. Learn how the Model Cornerstone Assessments embedded in the standards can be used to create reliable standards-based measures of student learning in theatre
4. Discover what role they can play to support adoption in their state

Click: TYA/USA MEMBERS – $5.75
Click: NON TYA/USA MEMBERS – $15.75

After payment, you will be redirected to the event registration page. If you are not redirected, email us, and we will send you the registration link.

Click here for further information on our Professional Development Webinars and to suggest topics and guests for future events.

Our Guest
Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.40.06 PMJames Palmarini is the Director of Educational Policy for the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), a member of the Leadership Team for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS), and executive editor of Teaching Theatre, the association’s journal for theatre educators that he co-founded in 1989. James was awarded EdTA’s Founders Award in 2005, and was recently inducted in the Ohio Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame.

James has written extensively about arts education, including articles on methodology, standards, assessment, and a wide range of theatre-specific subjects. In 2013, he interviewed assessment expert Jay McTighe in for Teaching Theatre, and wrote articles focusing on the rise of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in theatre education and the new wave of teacher evaluation models and their impact on arts educators. Most recently, he wrote an overview of teacher evaluation strategies for the journal.

As EdTA Director of Educational Policy, James serves on the Arts Education Partnership Advisory Committee; the Washington D.C.-based Arts Education Working Group; and the board of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. He has led or participated in presentations addressing the new National Core Arts Standards at conferences sponsored by Americans for the Arts; the Kennedy Center; the Arts Education Partnership; and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, among others. He tweets regularly at @edtadvocacy and blogs occasionally at
Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.33.12 PM


The Power of the Theatre

December 7, 2013

Theatre information

Below are the beginnings of very interesting articles on theatre education. So many good examples of how theatre education is empowering and providing meaningful arts education opportunities. The articles are located in the TYA News most recent postings. To learn more please go to the site at

Using Drama to Embody Social Skills – It’s all about empowering students. Taken from TYA/USA Next blog: Barrett Scroggs writes, “I am currently pursuing my MA in Drama Therapy at Kansas State University. According to the website for the North American Drama Therapy Association, Drama Therapy is defined as ‘the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals.’ The biggest strength of Drama Therapy is the use of embodiment.” And the link is

Youth Theater Tackles Complex Subject by Alyssa Harvey for the Daily News about how in a youth theater in Kenntucky students are facing difficult subjects through the use of theater. Click here for the entire article.

Amidst drugs and violence, art turns lives around in P.R. housing project written by Kristina Puga for NBCLatino. This is the story of how one young man who seemed destined to end up like his father or mother in a violent world of drugs found the arts as his ticket out. Antonio Morales was 15 at the time. Now 31, he found success in multiple ways through the theater. To read the entire article please click here

The Hoboken Children’s Theatre Company is bringing Stephen King- adapted Carrie the Musical to life. Broadway star Lisa Capp shares the stage with young people from the community. Read more at


Building Community Through the Arts

November 16, 2013

English and Science Classes at Bangor High School and Brewer High School Create Original Dance and Drama

IMG_0190Four academic classes from Brewer High School and Bangor High School have been working on original dance and drama pieces for the past several weeks, and will be performing them for the public on Wednesday, November 20 in Orono. The students’ creative work is part of “Building Community Through the Arts,” a program organized annually at these schools by the Maine Alliance for Arts & Education (MAAE). The artist residency program, now in its fourteenth year, brings professional Maine choreographers and playwrights into academic secondary school classrooms to help students create group works which combine curriculum themes with the social issues the students themselves choose to address.

At Bangor High School this year Susannah Owen’s sophomore English class has been creating a dance piece based on its reading of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” and Michele Benoit’s Introductory Chemistry class is creating a dance based on the behavior of elements. Both classes are working with Maine choreographer Katenia Keller.

At Brewer High School Michelle MacDonald’s two creative writing classes are creating works of drama with Maine playwright/ director Jeri Pitcher. For most of the students this is their first experience in creative theater and dance.

The public is invited to view the performances, which will take place at the Church of Universal Fellowship, 82 State Street in Orono. Admission is free. “Building Community Through the Arts” is funded this year with support from the Maine Humanities Council. Performances will run from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm; for more information visit the MAAE website,


Northeast Educational Theatre Festival

October 1, 2012

Hundreds of students will gather for a GREAT opportunity!

The Northeast Educational Theatre Festival, will be held November 30- December 1, at University of Southern Maine and Gorham High School.  The Northeast Educational Theatre Festival is sponsored by the Maine chapter of the Educational Theatre Association (ME EdTA), an organization that provides support and activities for high school theatre students and teachers.

Three hundred or more students from across New England will gather in Gorham for two days of workshops, performances and opportunities to perform for adjudication before a panel of professional judges. This year’s theme, “Once More with Sparkles; the Magic of Theatre”, focuses on the technical side of theatre.

The featured guest and keynote speaker is David Sumner, a scenic designer from NYC who has worked on productions around the world ranging from Broadway to the Olympics in Beijing. The festival is open to all students from high schools across New England, with information and registration forms available at For this great opportunity for students and teachers the deadline for discounted registration is October 26.

The Maine EdTA Board includes educators and professionals from the local theatre community committed to sharing a love of theatre with high school students, including:

  • Rick Osann, Bonny Eagle HS, Chapter Director
  • Keith Anctil, Westbrook MS & Cheverus HS, Treasurer
  • Pam Mutty, Brunswick HS, Board Member
  • Eileen Avery, Gorham HS, Board Member
  • Dan Burson, Portland Stage Co., Board Member
  • Michael Levine, Acorn Studios, Board Member

Last year’s Northeast Festival, including Heather Silva, teacher at Bonny Eagle HS, along with four BEHS students: Allison Fitzpatrick, Kim Larrabee, Meghan Wuorio & Taylor Morin

Thank you to Rick Osann for providing the information for this blog post!


Update on National Standards

July 16, 2012

Writing teams met

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) writing teams met (in person for the first time) in Reston, Virginia, June 19-22. The teams include dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. They gathered along with the leadership team of the NCCAS and had an intense productive four days.

The website to learn more is at where you will find video clips of team members providing information on the work. The meeting featured a live video broadcast session entitled Embedding Enduring Understandings, Essential Questions and Cornerstone Assessments into the new Core Arts Standards. You can view the recording of the session and learn more about the details of the development of the standards document.


US Department of Education

April 6, 2012

New study: Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

US Department of Education Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

On April 2, the U.S. Department of Education released a study entitled Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 1999-2000 and 2009-10. This study was previously published in 2002, prior to implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Arts education advocates are very pleased to finally see an update, even if a full decade later.

The report offers mixed results in support of arts education. According to the report, music and visual art are widely available in schools in some form in schools nationwide; however, dance and theater are far less available. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated, “despite the importance of providing equal educational opportunities in the arts, today’s report shows we are falling well short of that goal.”

Despite being designated a “core academic subject” in NCLB and being included in mandated elementary school curriculum in 44 states, this survey demonstrates that access to arts education remains elusive to a tremendous number of students across the nation.

From the Department’s announcement of the study we learned that:

  • 1.3 million of our nation’s public elementary school students receive no specific instruction in music, and nearly 4 million students receive no specific instruction in the visual arts.
  • 800,000 public secondary school students do not receive music, and 11 percent of secondary schools do not provide the visual arts.
  • Only 3 percent of elementary schools offer any specific dance instruction and only 4 percent offer any specific theater instruction. In secondary schools, the numbers improve somewhat as 12 percent offer dance and 45 percent offer theater.

Finally, this report found that the nation’s poorest students, the ones who could benefit the most from arts education, are receiving it the least.  A decade ago, the data showed that 100 percent of high poverty schools offered music instruction, but currently, only 80 percent offer music instruction. The percentage offering visual arts, dance, and theater is even lower.

In his remarks, Secretary Duncan called the disparity between high-poverty and low-poverty schools “deeply disturbing” and “absolutely an equity issue and a civil rights issue.”

For further details on this federal study, read this post on ARTSblog, “Ten Years Later: A Puzzling Picture of Arts Education in America.”

This information was provided by the Americans for the Arts.

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