“Plan your work and work your plan,” it may sound simple, but a theatrical schedule can be a challenge to create and navigate. Throw into that mix all the demands of a public school classroom, student needs, parent communication, curriculum development, record keeping, and a full day of teaching and all of a sudden running a theater program can be quite overwhelming. Last week, arts teachers from Seminole County Public Schools joined us at Orlando Family Stage for a professional development seminar on building a sustainable calendar for their programs that makes the most out of their resources.
Orlando REP’s Engaged Learning Through the Arts (ELTA) program provides teachers in Central Florida professional development in arts integration and arts education. With over ten years of commitment to serving classroom teachers through Arts Integration we also get excited to dive into sharing our processes as art and theater makers!
Our Behind the Curtain: Setting Your Production Up for Success seminar led by Chris Brown, Orlando Family Stage Executive Director, and Tramaine Berryhill, Orlando based scenic designer, started with the question of “why”? A strong WHY can help you make decisions along the way and keep you focused. Your “why” can determine where you put your strongest efforts and which things you may put less resources into. Hearing teachers talk about their “why” was a rich conversation, acknowledging that no “why” is wrong and that our “why” might be different for each show or from year to year.
The seminar included reviewing production calendars, rehearsal schedules, various organizational paperwork examples, and breaking down the phases of production. “Whether you are performing on Broadway or in the parking lot, the process is the same,” explained Chris Brown, “and whether the meeting is with colleagues, students, or even just with yourself, taking the time to review or consider these elements, almost like a checklist, can ensure that nothing is forgotten.”
“This is exactly what I’ve needed as I take over the theater program at my school!” Tackling this topic at the beginning of the school year proved a useful tool for the teachers in preplanning. Whether you have been teaching for 15+ years or are just starting out, taking it back to the basics and revisiting your production process is always useful. “This session allowed me to see any items that I may be missing in my scheduling,” commented a high school theater teacher. This was also a great opportunity for the teachers to share their expertise and experience with each other. Experienced teachers shared some of their tried and true process as well as the things that always seem to take them by surprise or trip them up in the process.
“When we have our schedule and logistics effectively planned, we are in a much better place to handle the unexpected things that inevitably come up,” explained Orlando Family Stage Senior Director of Education Jennifer Adams-Carrasquillo. “Plus, we have more ability to focus on what really matters, our students! They are the reason these teachers devote themselves to this work, so any way we can help teachers have more time to connect with students is beyond valuable as a community partner.”
“Bravo! It’s lovely to be welcomed to your space! Seminole County Arts loves this connection!” –Middle School Chorus Teacher
Dr. Lindsay Williams, K-12 Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist, is always looking to invest in his teachers, “I wanted to provide our Performing Arts faculty with an opportunity to work with active professionals in the field within the confines of a successful professional theatre organization. So frequently teachers are in the role of “teacher” and it is important to be able to change perspective and be a “student.” My teachers came back for their field trip energized and with take aways they can immediately implement with their own students. We are so fortunate to be in an area that has resources in theatre and, more importantly, with organizations that so readily give back to promote and enhance the arts as an endeavor to be valued and pursued.” It was a great day with our friends in Seminole County and we are so thrilled to expand our professional development for teachers in this way.