When schools reopen, how will school theater programs reopen? Recommendations here.

You’ve probably heard of the International Thespian Association. After all, 2.4 million high school kids have been inducted into the program since 1929 (and I know several of you out there right now are saying, “I was a Thespian!”).

The core activity of the Association is performance festivals around the country, which if you haven’t attended, you should find your way into one. I went to my first last year to see this show performed by high school students, and I was just blown away by the talent, the energy, and the excitement about the theater. It made me realize how bright our art form’s future is.

While you may have heard of the Thespians, you may NOT have heard of its parent org, The Educational Theater Association, which provides educational opportunities for teachers, scholarships for students, and so much more. I had the pleasure of keynoting a conference for them years before and I remember thinking, “I can’t tell who is more excited about the theater . . . the students at their festivals, or these unbelievable educators.”

Thankfully, the EdTA is leading the charge on what happens with school theater programs as schools get back to their business in the fall (fingers crossed) while the world continues to battle COVID-19.

And being the leaders they are, they put together an extensive guide and handbook called, “Recommendations for Reopening School Theater Programs” . . . and they’ve generously allowed me to share it here . . . for free . . . whether you’re a member of the EdTA or not. Because they believe that anything they can do to help encourage more (and safe!) theater just helps make the world a better place.

Whether you’re in theater ed or not, you should read it. It’s one of the most comprehensive guidebooks I’ve seen about theater in a COVID-19 world . . . and we can all learn from it. I know I did. (Oh, and you can bet I’m working on getting them to speak about this at my conference this fall!)

Speak thanks to James Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy, and Julie Cohen Theobald, Executive Director, for their leadership and allowing me to share this doc. And if you want to support the EdTA as a thank you for the guide, you can do that here. I just did.

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FROM THE EdTA RE: THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REOPENING SCHOOL THEATRE PROGRAMS GUIDE   

The EdTA Recommendations guide is intended to serve as a support resource to help theatre teachers and administrators decide what is safely possible for their school and students—including in-person and virtual performance, curriculum, instruction, and resources. It is not a prescriptive document in which all suggested protocols are expected to be followed by every school in every state. Rather, it focuses on these three fundamental questions:

  1. How can you deliver instruction while adhering to social distancing?
  2. How can you adapt instruction for virtual teaching and learning?
  3. How can the social and emotional support that live theatre experiences provide be transferred to online learning environments?

Access the guide here: Recommendations for Reopening School Theatre Programs.

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Interested in hearing more about safety in the theater in a COVID-19 atmosphere? Click here to access an exclusive video conversation about this issue and two more top concerns for theatermakers in today’s climate.

 

Tonight on the Livestream: Tony Award-winning Director, John Rando!

Big thanks to Tony Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell (Hamilton, Ain’t Too Proud, “Harriet”) for joining me on the livestream last week. His convo had me watching that Hamilton stream in a totally different light! I mean, did you see those cuffs on Jefferson’s coat???

If you missed my chat with Paul, go over and watch the replay and learn about Paul’s process to designing some of the most intricate costumes . . . it’s how it’s all in those details!

And tonight, we’ve got a little ol’ A-list Director switcheroo!

Bart Sher had a last-minute scheduling conflict, so we’re working on getting him rescheduled for later in the summer/early fall.

In the meantime, my good buddy JOHN RANDO from Gettin’ The Band Back Together and the Tony Award-winning Director of Urinetown, as well as the Director of the new musical, Back To The Future (expect me to ask lots of questions about that), will join us for a convo about what he’s been up to since the pandemic began.

Also, joining us on the livestream tonight is a very special guest: Michael Merritt, an emerging TheaterMaker and a nurse, who spent the apex of the pandemic on the front lines at an NYC hospital!

I’ve invited him to be our special guest tonight to talk about how the experience impacted him and how it’s affecting his future, both as a nurse and as a TheaterMaker.

Set your reminder for tonight’s episode here.

 

And look who’s joining me over the next few weeks . . .

Thursday, July 9th – Altar Boyz Reunion *****  (Added livestream this week! Note the day!)

Tuesday, July 14th – Tara Rubin (Casting Director – SIX, Sing Street, Ain’t Too Proud, Dear Evan Hansen)

Thursday, July 16th – Sammi Cannold LIVE – Quarantined in Korea!!! (Director – New York City Center’s Evita, Ragtime on Ellis Island)

Tuesday, July 21st – Steven Pasquale (Actor – American Son, Bridges of Madison County)

Tuesday, July 28th – Danny Burstein (Actor – Moulin Rouge, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof)

Tuesday, August 4th – Norm Lewis (Actor – Phantom of The Opera, Porgy and Bess, Les Miserables)

Tuesday, August 11th – John Cariani (Actor/Playwright – Something Rotten; Caroline or Change; Almost, Maine)

 

You can catch me every TUESDAY at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, and on Broadway on Demand.

To learn more about our guests and the organizations for which we are raising money, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

[New Podcasts] The Producer’s Perspective: Live from The Pandemic

Recording my podcast has become a wee bit challenging over the last several months. That’s one of the reasons why I pivoted and started my livestream.

And after only three months of going live, we’ve got 60 episodes with some big ol’ Broadway stars. (Tomorrow’s is A-list Director of South Pacific and The King and I, Bart Sher, for example.)

But a few of my podcast listeners have emailed me recently asking about audio content instead of video, since they listen on their commutes (which are starting to come back, thank the lord) or on the treadmill.

So, I’m taking all of my livestreams and converting them to podcast format for a special series called The Producer’s Perspective Podcast LIVE From The Pandemic.

 

Starting today, I’ll release an episode a week, starting with week #1 of the livestream. So if podcasts are your way to consume content, make sure you’re subscribed here.

Or if you want to see my face and my new #coronacut, you can catch the replays of my Livestream on my Facebook page or Youtube page.

 


We did a survey of the three things that are at the top of every TheaterMaker’s mind as we consider theater’s return post-pandemic. Their answers? Safety, Equality, and Streaming.

Because these three issues are SO vital to the theater’s survival, I had The TheaterMakers Studio curate a 3-part video series featuring experts on these subjects. The videos release next week. Click here to get them (they will not be made available to the public).

NEW Altar Boyz Video and Our Reunion: Take II

Ok, boyz and girls. Now we’re really getting the band back together!

Thank you for your patience as we rescheduled our previously announced Altar Boyz reunion – but we’re now set for July 9th at 8 PM!

And because you’ve been so patient, we’ve added some extra surprises.

We recruited self-proclaimed Altarholic and Broadway star-herself, SUSAN BLACKWELL, to host!  You know Susan from the original cast of [title of show], Now Here This, a whole bunch of TV, the incredible podcast The Spark Fileand lots more. (Watch her on our livestream and you’ll see how much fun she is on these things.)

AND . . . we’ve gathered about 40 of our Boyz from all of our different casts . . . New York, National Tours, and more . . . to record a special version of a signature ABz tune. Watch below!

And then make sure you set a reminder to tune in to our livestream on July 9th at 8 PM to see original cast members including:

Scott Porter, Matthew

Tyler Maynard, Mark

Andy Karl, Luke

Ryan Duncan, Juan

David Josefsberg, Abraham

Kevin Kern (“Wonder-study” #1)

Daniel Torres (“Wonder-study” #2)

As well as:

Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, Composers & Lyricists

Kevin Del Aguila, Bookwriter

Marc Kessler, Co-Conceiver

Robyn Goodman, Producer

Stafford Arima, Director

Christopher Gattelli, Choreographer

Lynne Shankel, Music Director & Co-Orchestrator

 

And you can count on at least one surprise guest, if not more . . . and maybe even another SONG???

So if you’re an Altarholic, tune in on Thursday, July 9th to The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! at 8 PM and hear all about how the show was developed, how we found that cast and much more.  And the Boyz will even take some questions!

Oh, and the more you donate to The Actors Fund, the juicier the stories get.

 

WATCH THE NEW ALTAR BOYZ VIDEO BELOW!

 

 

Click here to get a reminder for the Altar Boyz reunion on Thursday, July 9th at 8pm EDT / 7pm CDT / 6pm MDT / 5pm PDT.

And if you need an Altar fix now, listen to the cast recording: on Spotify, on Amazon, and on Apple Music.

 

Forget about streaming . . . what about this? Especially now.

Streaming is all the rage these days . . . whether that means an opportunity to watch a musical shot in New York City like this one, or whether that’s a blogger like me who turns his camera on weekly to talk to an industry hot shot.

And streaming has a very distinct place in our present and our future (although not exactly how you might think – keep your eye on this blog for more on that later this week).

But there’s another type of recording that I’m surprised hasn’t taken off in our world . . . and based on current trends AND the current COVID-19 crisis, I think it should.

And . . . gasp . . . this one is more suited for PLAYS than musicals.

Why aren’t more plays being podcasted?

Audio-recorded content has surged over the past several years.

So why aren’t more plays appearing on Podcasts or in audiobook format?

I know, I know, plays are meant to be seen . . . but ahhhh, not sure if you’ve read the news lately . . . people can’t actually see them. And since shooting a play on video is so very expensive and logistically difficult (and again, please check the news about why even that’s problematic these days), why not turn to the done-for-peanuts-and-in-one-day audio version?

The growth of consumers’ appetites for listening to recorded content on their phones, iPads, and in their cars has proven that they devour content that they love.

Audible is doing a bit of this downtown, but the rest of us just aren’t serving enough content to our audience.

And we should. (It’d also get some cash to our artists who could use it now, before we lose many of them.)

I’m not just talking about why The Hangmen, which canceled its Broadway run because of COVID-19, might think of putting out an audio version with that original cast. Or what about To Kill A Mockingbird?  

I’m also taking about EMERGING plays.

Podcasted or Audio book-ed plays could be the new “Demo” for emerging playwrights looking to get their plays produced.

It’s HARD to get people to read a script. It’s EASIER to get them to listen (evident by the growth in podcasting and audiobook devouring referenced above).

So doesn’t it make sense that if you were a new playwright and wanted a Producer to “read” your script, you might have a better shot of them listening to it?

Just imagine this query letter:

“Hi. I wrote a play. It’s 110 pages. Will you read it?”

Or

“Hi. I wrote a play. I recorded it with actors and you can listen to it on the treadmill.”

Isn’t the experience easier and the product better?

Selling anything, whether that’s a bar of soap or a brand new play, is about reducing the friction between the buyer and the seller, and having audio versions of what we produce does just that.

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I do have more to say on streaming later this week.  Make sure you get that blog (and get my free book – which you can also get in audio version, of course) by clicking here.

 

 

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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