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GIVE YOUR THEATRE PROGRAM A BOOST!
Recruiting & retention strategies to boost your theatre program, plus, your weekly round-up of theatre news you may have missed!
Welcome to The Scene, your weekly round-up of theatre news you may have missed. In this week’s email:
THE BROADWAY BEAT: How America’s Playwrights Saved The Tony Awards - How Does the Cast of Broadway's Kimberly Akimbo Ice Skate Onstage? - Will Broadway's Leopoldstadt Become a TV Series? - The Orchestrators of & Juliet Were Invited to 'Mess With' Max Martin's Pop Songs. They Took the Challenge
HOT TOPICS: Kimberly Akimbo to Give 3 Real-Life High School Show Choirs Their Broadway Debuts - California's Pasadena Playhouse Named 2023 Regional Theatre Tony Recipient - Into the Woods leads winners of 2023 Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards - Roundabout Theatre Company, and New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Create the Theatrical Workforce Development Program -Music Legend Tina Turner Passes Away at 83
POLL: Cast your vote for Best Play, Best Musical, Best Revival of a Play, and Best Revival of a Musical at the upcoming 2023 Tony Awards.
THE BIG IDEA: Give your Theater Program a Boost with Recruiting & Retention Strategies
SHOWS YOU SHOULD KNOW: Community Garden – A Contemporary, Comedic, and Environmentalist Play for Highschoolers
The Broadway Beat
HOW AMERICA’S PLAYWRIGHTS SAVED THE TONY AWARDS - The screenwriters’ strike threatened next month’s broadcast, a key marketing moment for the fragile theater industry. That’s when leading dramatists sprang into action.
HOW DOES THE CAST OF BROADWAY'S KIMBERLY AKIMBO ICE SKATE ONSTAGE? - They may be wearing real ice skates, but there's no ice onstage.
WILL BROADWAY'S LEOPOLDSTADT BECOME A TV SERIES? - Reports are circulating that a small screen adaptation of the 2023 Tony-nominated play is being shopped around Hollywood.
THE ORCHESTRATORS OF & JULIET WERE INVITED TO 'MESS WITH' MAX MARTIN'S POP SONGS. THEY TOOK THE CHALLENGE - Tony-nominated orchestrators Dominic Fallacaro and Bill Sherman combined the synthesizers of pop music with a Broadway pit orchestra.
KIMBERLY AKIMBO TO GIVE 3 REAL-LIFE HIGH SCHOOL SHOW CHOIRS THEIR BROADWAY DEBUTS - The 2023 Best Musical Tony nominee has invited performing groups from NYC-area high schools to perform a song from the show onstage at the Booth.
CALIFORNIA'S PASADENA PLAYHOUSE NAMED 2023 REGIONAL THEATRE TONY RECIPIENT - The honor includes a grant of $25,000.
INTO THE WOODS LEADS WINNERS OF 2023 BROADWAY.COM AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS - See the full list of this year’s honorees.
ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY, AND NEW YORK CITY MAYOR’S OFFICE OF MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT CREATE THE THEATRICAL WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM - The theatre industry’s first workforce development program to train and place young adults in professional technical theatre careers.
MUSIC LEGEND TINA TURNER PASSES AWAY AT 83 - Considered the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Ms. Turner was the subject of the Tony nominated bio musical Tina.
Tony Awards Poll
We invite you to take part in our Tony Awards Poll and have your say in selecting the winners for Best Play, Best Musical, Best Revival of a Play, and Best Revival of a Musical at the upcoming 2023 Tony Awards. Don't miss out! Cast your vote before Friday, June 2. Results will be announced in next week's edition of The Scene.
The American Theatre Wing’s 76th Annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air LIVE on Sunday, June 11, 2023 from the historic United Palace in Washington Heights, in New York City from 8:00-11:00 PM, ET/5:00-8:00 PM, PT on the CBS Television Network, and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+*.CBS and Pluto TV will present The Tony Awards: Act One, a pre-show of live, exclusive content leading into the 76th Annual Tony Awards. The celebration commences at 6:30-8:00 PM, ET/3:30-5:00 PM PT, on Pluto TV, the leading free streaming television service (FAST). Viewers can access the show on their smart TV, streaming device, mobile app or online by going to Pluto TV and clicking on the “Pluto TV Celebrity” channel (no payment, registration or sign-in required).
The Big Idea:
Give your Theater Program a Boost with Recruiting & Retention Strategies
Theater is an incredible art form that has the power to enrich students' lives in countless ways. It fosters creativity, enhances communication skills, and promotes teamwork. Moreover, it opens doors to history, literature, and various other subjects. However, maintaining theater programs can be challenging, especially in areas where the arts are not given priority.
If you're a theater teacher in a school where the arts aren't prioritized, we have some friendly and helpful tips to help you recruit and retain students for your program:
Start early: To spark interest and excitement for theater, expose students to it from a young age. Consider offering theater classes to local elementary and/or middle school students. This not only lays a strong foundation for theater engagement in high school but also presents a fantastic fundraising opportunity.
Make it fun: Theater should be a fun and enjoyable experience for students. Engage them with classes that are both stimulating and entertaining. When students have fun, they're more likely to stay committed.
Get the word out: Spread the word about your theater program far and wide. Discuss it with your students in class, send home flyers, and share information on social media. Reach out to middle school drama programs, local dance studios, and arts programs, inviting students to attend. The more students know about your program, the greater their interest will be.
Partner with other teachers: Collaboration is key in theater. Partner with English teachers for plays based on classic literature or history teachers for productions involving historical events. While not all colleagues may get involved, those who do will be more invested in the success of the production and the program. They will also help spread the word.
Get involved in the community: Theater provides an excellent opportunity to engage with the local community. Collaborate with local organizations and participate in community events. Reach out to arts organizations, senior communities, and even local government officials. By inviting the mayor or local congressman to attend your show, you'll raise awareness of your program, attract local media, and program support. Also, you can guarantee that this will be one production your school administration will definitely attend.
Celebrate successes: It's crucial to celebrate the achievements of your students. Recognizing their accomplishments builds confidence and encourages continued participation in theater.
Recruiting and retaining students for a high school theater program can be challenging, but it's absolutely possible. By following these friendly tips, you can ensure the success of your program.
Additional Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Students in High School Theater Programs, Even in Areas Where the Arts Are Not Prioritized:
Be creative: Think outside the box when it comes to marketing and outreach. Partner with local businesses to offer discounts or prizes to students involved in your program. Consider creating a video trailer or social media campaign to generate excitement.
Be persistent: Building a successful theater program takes time. Don't give up if you don't see immediate results. Keep reaching out to students, emphasizing the amazing opportunities your program provides.
Be positive: Let your passion for theater shine through. Maintain a positive attitude about your program, as students can sense your enthusiasm. Your positivity will help them get excited and more likely to participate.
By embracing these friendly and helpful strategies, you can recruit and retain students for your high school theater program, even in areas where the arts aren't given priority.
Shows You Should Know
Community Garden – A Contemporary, Comedic, and Environmentalist Play for Highschoolers
By Justin Borak
As a writer, my background began and primarily been in comedy. Spending 5 years writing and performing on the Chicago comedy scene, it took a large leap to even fathom becoming a playwright. After heading off to graduate school for Acting, I ended up taking a different route then the rest of my cohort and began writing plays. I fell in love with contemporary playwrights like Annie Baker and Joshua Harmon and ended up writing my first full-length, A Writer’s Room, through a grant I received from West Virginia Public Theatre and Broadway Licensing. They read and saw the staged reading we did and become interested in writing style, but the Broadway Licensing team had an idea in mind I wasn’t expecting, and it involved their brilliant team that ran the Playscripts department.
After sitting down with the teams, they brought to my attention a want for the young, sitcom-like, contemporary style behind my playwriting in the Playscripts catalog. With new playwrights like Larissa FastHorse, Young Jean Lee, and Jordan Harrison gaining attention for their quick, snappy, relatable dialogue in theatre more geared towards adults, they thought having someone with a similar style writing for the high school demographic would be a new and exciting canon to add to the Playscripts catalog. After hearing their ideas, I was up for the challenge.
When I was asked by the Playscripts team to write a play for high schools, I had a few things I wanted to focus on. At the beginning, I wanted to write something that could be easily done with competition in mind, hence using the vignette structure made famous by John Cariani’s Almost, Maine. Another element I wanted to bring into the play was balancing an educational piece of the play within a fun, relatable script. When reading Community Garden, you’ll find that the play focuses on the community aspect of the neighborhood in Chicago, IL the play is set in, while also subtlety bringing up the small ways anyone could reduce the carbon footprint and help make their home greener and create more “good air”.
In my comedic writing era, I focused on political satire. Loving writers like Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Trevor Noah, I always admired artists who could say something and make change with what they create. In my time in Chicago, I lived in Uptown and the community garden that the play is based on became my haven during the pandemic for good air. In a city full of skyscrapers, huge trains, and smoke stacks, it felt hard to find the crisp, clean air you find in the woods of Ohio I grew up in. That community garden in Uptown, Chicago became my place I would walk every day in the pandemic to get a brief gasp of “good air” in a time where the world was afraid to breath.
My hopes writing this play is to bring a new style to high school theatre. I want to create a canon of plays with Playscripts that get high schoolers excited to dive into more contemporary playwrights. I also hope to have an underlying message with educational values in each play, and specifically with Community Garden, I hope to get teenagers excited to make our world a little bit greener every day.