What’s happening this summer?

It is already June, and I am soooo behind. My goal for this summer was to publish four handbooks, charging very little for them, so you could have a kind of road map to how a more productive and active summer than might be usual for those of you who just want to chill out for a few months.

Handbooks for the summer on Kindle

So how am I doing? I do have two handbooks finished and published in the Kindle bookstore. Two more scheduled now for late summer, but I take heart that maybe they won’t be so late after all because one of them is about what you can do to prepare for fall, whether you are in school still or not.

In case there is still time for performing arts career direction, even though you might already be immersed in summer activities, here they are:

You can check them out by following the links to my Kindle bookshelf.

Online Theatre Repertory

What is it that has made these handbooks so late? Yes, I do live within walking distance of the beach, but at my age, sun is not my friend. No, I have been indoors, at this computer, writing original dialogue for what I call podcasts, but which are audio versions of theatre repertory. The dialogue ties together pieces and cuttings from novels and short stories, poems, plays, and essays around a theme. This next podcast is about the Summer Olympics in Rio. George wants to go to Rio. Martha, his wife, just laughs at him, knowing he expects the Girl from Ipanema will materialize on the beaches there.

I bet none of you know who the heck that is. Ask someone older.

So the podcast involves finding a theme, then finding and cutting pieces we can use (without infringing on copyright), rehearsing with me directing and acting, and teaching what I know about the techniques of oral interpretation of literature. Then we record it all and edit the recordings,

We’ve done three so far. You can catch the latest on www.theatrefollies.com.

I am also preparing a workshop for my community theatre on how to do Readers Theatre, a form of theatre I really enjoy because it makes good use of the voice.  It will be ready this fall and I plan to make it available online. You teachers out there may want to check it out on www.theatreowl.com.

If this issue sounds like a pitch to sell, or as the Car Talk brothers call it, “shameless commerce,” it is. Lots have gone into these projects and I would like to know that maybe some of it is useful or instructive, or merely entertaining for you.

All of this is going on in what are the hottest and most humid days and nights of the Florida seasons. But no sweat! I’m doing theatre!

What are you doing?

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Hit record

For a while now, I have been working on a pet project: online coursework for high school performing arts classrooms. It would reverse the classroom model: Students would take the core part of the class on their own time and online, but would use scheduled class time to work with the teacher and each other on projects that would reinforce what they were learning.

Coming up with projects has forced me to face the reality that in spite of the timeliness of online coursework, I have been relying on outdated models for the assignments.

But. I have been preaching to my niece that it is her generation who will innovate, who will see the possibilities between old theatre and what will be. She is the future, I tell her. My role, I tell her, is to help her see the possibilities.

So. I read about a new television network in The New Yorker in an article by Emily Nussbaum, the television critic who I like a lot. Pivot the network is called. It’s supposed to be for the younger generation and even though the likes of me watches it, I guess it is. I’m hoping it will get me to see things differently. Explore the possibilities.

I now have an idea to include in assignments where students make performance works of art using the internet and all the production tools available to almost everyone. And to do it through collaboration with each other in one theatre class, or several in one school, or – what-the-heck- students in other schools all around the country. Each class would contribute part of the whole project. It would be managed and directed by the teachers – or even me – who would help students put the project together into a unified and exciting whole.

Guess what? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is already doing it, though on a professional level. On Pivot. He has a production studio called HitRECord that draws from contributors all over the world. His studio puts it together and the results are new, fresh, innovative, and fascinating.

So there you have it. The future is already here and why couldn’t this online class of ours do something innovative? Or maybe something that brings together live performance mixed with technology?

One of the modules I’m developing introduces the designers who work in the theatre to the students and one of these designers is a Media or Digital Media designer. Who knew? In my day there was no media to design and theatre people made the sets by putting pieces of lumber together, covering them with heavy canvas, and painting these pieces to look like what they were supposed to be. Back in the day (don’t you love that expression?) the only time I saw media on stage was in a new play by Grace McKeaney at a theatre near Chicago. She had video playing on screens behind the live actors and it was exciting. But it didn’t become a trend.

But now, whole sets are digital or have digital accompaniments. Happens all the time. Can we do this? Is it something anyone out there would like to work on? Can it be something that we would need a Digital Media designer for? Or do you know a student or two who would know exactly what to do?

Any thoughts or observations?

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