[Image description: The Projects with Jason logo with a hand-drawn turkey around it. The website adress: www.projectswithjason.com. Following that is, "November 2020 Newsletter, Welcome" on a background of brush strokes. Below the text is a photo of J. Jason Daunter, the Founder and Artistic Director of Projects with Jason. He is wearing a black button up shirt, sitting on a staircase next to a brick wall. Jason has dark brown hair and blue eyes. End image description.]
 

Founder and Artistic Director J. Jason Daunter welcomes you all to the November Newsletter and shares his thoughts on being thankful, even in such uncertain times.
 

 
 

A PLAYWRIGHT’S PERSPECTIVE

Writing DISTANCE LEARNING
By Carey Crim,
Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence & Playwright
 
In my early twenties, I went through a period of trying to do something every day that scared me. That was a lyric to a spoken word song called Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen that, at the time, most radio stations seemed to have on repeat. One thing that truly terrified me was improvisational comedy. So I auditioned for The Second City Detroit. I was cast in the touring company and worked with them for a couple of wonderful years. Though it ultimately wasn’t my calling, my time there taught me so much about comedy, writing, and life.
 
One of the first and most important lessons improv teaches is, Yes, and. Basically, that means when your scene partner gives you something, you affirm it and then add to it. If they say, “Look at that enormous meteor headed towards Earth,” you don’t respond with, “That’s not a meteor, that’s a bird,” because it stops the scene and gives you nowhere to go. You might say, “Yes, and I have a bunker that I built for just such a catastrophe! Let’s get inside!” Now you can create the world together. Okay, so my improv skills are a little rusty, but you get the idea.
 
Saying yes, and has become a very important part of my life. That doesn’t mean I say yes to everything (healthy boundaries and all of that), but when the right people and projects come along, yes, and has brought an abundance of good into my life. So, when someone I had never met, asked if I would be willing to write a short play for Laurie Metcalf and about six high school students, my answer was yes. First, as a theatre geek, I was never going to say no to writing for the brilliant Laurie Metcalf. Second, I had heard only wonderful things about Jason Daunter and was really excited about what he and his team were doing for kids. So that first yes and the subsequent ands were the beginning of the incredible journey that has been Distance Learning.
           
Jason and I talked about what the play might be. I decided to write it specifically for the online format. We wanted it to be “of the moment” and not shy away from the issues high school kids were dealing with every day. But we didn’t want it to be so issue-heavy that it wasn’t real. We talked about the idea of isolation and finding connection even in this time of total disconnection. We discussed the future and how these kids were still so full of hope despite all the chaos.
 
The first version of the play was about ten minutes long. Laurie and six high school actors, directed by Guy Sanville, performed it online. The first time hearing a new play out loud is always a thrill, and this one did not disappoint. These kids were fearless and Laurie was, well, Laurie. What an amazing person and actor. She was so humble and instantly helped create a company. She didn’t want to be treated differently than any of the other actors. She gave, and they gave right back. Even in the new and strange world of online theatre, connections were made and so much truth was told. It was one of my favorite theatre moments. 
 
Jason and I spoke again. He and the team had been talking. They were so excited about what had taken place with the short play. What if we turned it into a full-length one act? What if we could offer it to high schools all over the country? I was a little nervous to expand the original. I didn’t want to ruin what we already had. One of Jason’s big ands was to bring together a group of high school kids to talk to us about what they were going through. I thought we might really have to lead the conversation, but once they got going, there was no stopping them. We went way over time because they didn’t want to stop sharing and we didn’t want to stop listening. Much of what they shared with us ended up in the final play in some form. When we performed the longer version, this time with Scot Reese directing, we were able to do so with many of them in the cast. 
 
Jason has a knack for getting people to say yes. Once you’re part of the
Projects with Jason family, the many ands become evident. I have received so much more than I gave on this project. After we did the second reading, we “hung around” online for a bit and talked with the cast again. If adults could talk to one another the way these kids do, we’d be in a much better place in this country. They are smart and opinionated and come from different backgrounds and belief systems, but they completely supported and trusted one another. Theatre kids, right? But I think most kids would rise if given the chance to be heard. I think that’s why this project speaks to me the most. I may have written it, but it’s their voice. They didn’t just inspire the play… they ARE the play. As will be all the kids who perform it from now on. For that and them, I am incredibly grateful. Jason, thanks for giving me the chance to say yes, and. I’m so honored to be here.

 

[Image Description: Photo of Carey Crim. She has long, dark hair and blue eyes. She is smiling with her teeth showing. She has a pendant necklace, and is wearing a blue shirt. End image description.]ABOUT CAREY CRIM
Carey Crim is an East Coast based playwright and resident artist at the Purple Rose Theatre Company. Her play Never Not Once was the winner of the 2017 Jane Chambers award and a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Conviction premiered at Bay Street Theatre starring Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt and Elizabeth Reaser. It was nominated for an Ovation award for best new play. One of her earlier works, Wake premiered at the SeaGlass Theatre in Los Angeles where it was a critic’s pick. Carey adapted it as a feature film, which stars Jo Koy, James Denton, and Myndy Crist. It has won numerous festival awards and was released October 8th on Amazon Prime. Carey is a three-time finalist for Miami City Theater’s short play competition and won the competition in 2011. She has been a finalist for The Heideman award and a three-time finalist in the Samuel French OOB festival. Carey is a graduate of Northwestern University.

 

For information about producing
DISTANCE LEARNING, please contact:
 info@projectswithjason.com

 

PERFORMERS

Auditioning Series, Part 2: College Edition
Prescreens & Digital Live Auditions
By Christine Riley,
Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence
 

Welcome back to our audition segment! I hope everyone found the time to do their homework this month. We are going to focus on college auditions today (‘tis the season), but most of the information should apply to all types of auditions.
 

If you are a junior this year, now is the time to start doing some research! What type of college or university are you looking for? An urban setting or rolling green hills? A big state university or a smaller college? A conservatory program or a liberal arts school? Visit school websites, take a look at their social media pages, ask friends and teachers and gather as much information as you can. Although visiting schools is difficult right now, many schools have virtual tours and open houses. Take a look! If you are able to travel locally, take a campus tour if they are being offered in person. Take the next 6-8 months to learn about different programs so that by next summer you have a solid list of schools you are interested in. As part of your research, look at the classes that you will be taking. All programs are different and it is so important to find the balance of classes that works well for you!
 

If you are a senior this year, you probably have already started the application process and hopefully have started filming and submitting your prescreen videos. A few reminders: not all schools require prescreens and each school may have different due dates. It is helpful to keep a spreadsheet of all your dates and requirements! The good news is that Papermill Playhouse has created “College Musical Theatre Common Prescreen Criteria.” Many schools have adopted this criteria so that you can use the same video submissions for a number of schools! You can find all of the information here:
Papermill Playhouse’s College Musical Theatre Common Prescreen Criteria

 
Now – let’s talk about self tapes and digital auditions. The reality is that this year, almost all of your auditions for college (and elsewhere) will be digital/self-tape submissions or virtual “live” auditions. Both of these require some technical preparation and practice as well as the typical work you would be doing on your material. So first, equipment:

  • Camera: A smartphone works well for self tapes – just make sure you are shooting horizontally and not vertically! For digital “live” auditions, a computer/laptop works best.
  • Lighting: Front light and a little side light are ideal – try not to stand directly under an overhead light (it creates shadows). For front light, a ring light is best. If you get one on a tripod that has an attachment for your phone, you are set! It will keep the camera steady and light your face.
  • Background: A plain wall behind you is great! If you don’t have a plain wall, you can hang a plain sheet (color of your choice). Make sure you get out the wrinkles and make it as taut as you can.
  • Tracks and Speaker: You will need a piano track of your accompaniment unless you have a pianist available. If you are using a track, you should play it from a speaker so that you can get a warm, full sound and are easily able to adjust the volume. Please play the track on a separate device from your camera to get the best quality sound. Whether you use a live pianist or a track, you should do a few sound checks to make sure the balance is good for you as a performer as well as for the recording. You may need to try placing your speaker in a variety of locations in the room as well as adjusting how close you are standing to the camera to find the right balance.
  • Sound on Zoom: If you are doing a virtual live audition via Zoom, find the Audio Settings under Preferences. Go to “Advanced” (underneath all the regular audio settings) and check mark the box that says “Show in meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone.” Once ticked, 3 more boxes appear underneath. Click all 3 boxes. Using “original sound” while you are singing will let both you and the track be heard on Zoom. When you are back in the Zoom meeting, you will see an option to “turn on original sound”.  You will need to click on this to turn on the original sound option. Here are the steps laid out for you:
    • Menu Bar > Zoom > Preferences > Audio Settings
    • Audio Settings > click “Advanced”
    • click “Show in meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone”
    • click all 3 boxes that appear 
    • in Zoom meeting > click “turn on original sound”

Tips on recording/auditioning on camera:

  • Slate: Speak right into the camera and let us see you! It is your opportunity to speak directly to your audition panel. For self-tapes this can be a separate take that you edit together with your songs.
  • Focus: Set your imaginary scene partner just beyond the camera (this can be slightly above or just barely to the side). Make sure the camera is at your eye level so we can look right at you.        
  • Frame: Set the camera so we can see from your chest to the top of your head.
  • The box: Don’t worry about playing to “the box.” Act and sing as you would in a typical audition! It is not a “less than” situation!

Self tape editing:

  • Program: iMovie works well and is very user friendly. If you are an Android user, there are many free or low price video editing apps available as well!
  • Editing: Your video should begin with a slate (typically your name and song – some institutions will have specific requirements) and then move from that into your song and/or monologue. For college auditions, you are often asked to upload each song separately but there may be occasions when you need to edit the songs together back to back. Please remember to check the requirements for each audition. A final slide with your name and contact information can be nice but is not necessary!

 
That is a lot of information! So what is next? Homework of course! For this month, make a self tape and practice turning on original sound on Zoom. I truly believe that we learn best by doing, so let’s do this! Be kind to yourself during the process. You don’t have to record your song 30 times! Limit the number of takes you do – it is not about finding perfection. Play with your sound levels, lighting and space to find the right place for you to do your best work. Next month we will talk about choosing repertoire and preparing for your college auditions!

 

[Image Description: Photo of Christine Riley. She is smiling at the camera. Her head is tilted up to look at the camera. She has dark red hair, and dark eyes. She is wearing a red shirt. End image description.]ABOUT CHRISTINE RILEY
Christine Riley is a Music Director, Vocal Coach, and Arranger currently residing in NYC. As a music director, she has worked Off-Broadway, on national tours, and regionally in the US. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Marymount Manhattan College, where she serves as the instructor for Fundamentals of Musical Theatre, Musical Theatre Song Portfolio, Professional Preparation: Musical Theatre, Music Director for many productions, the faculty recruiter for Musical Theatre, and the program director for the Musical Theatre Pre-College program. In addition, she is a Music Director for Camp Broadway (performances at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Rocktopia), and maintains a private vocal coaching studio in New York City. Ms. Riley is the author of Music Fundamentals for Musical Theatre (Bloomsbury Press 2020) and received her Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College, and a Master of Music from Arizona State University.

 

OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

It was a busy month here at Projects with Jason! October saw a number of unique member privileges that presented perfect virtual resources and activities for students and educators. Here’s just a quick recap of all the exciting opportunities Projects with Jason members had last month:
  • Members were invited to the live taping of a new Tech Table episode, with the Tony Award-Winning scenic designer David Zinn. The taping included opportunities for educators to engage with David Zinn, and for students to participate in a design challenge and receive feedback from this talented artist!
  • We held a Members-Only MasterClass with Broadway makeup artist/hairstylist, Brian Strumwasser… just in time for Halloween! Students observed, collaborated, and asked their own questions. Projects with Jason Members who couldn’t attend have received the recording and resources from this exciting session.
  • Projects with Jason member school San Juan Hills High School in California performed Love/Sick, live streamed from each student’s home! Projects with Jason was able to support their work by providing an opportunity and forum for the cast to virtually meet both the playwright, John Cariani, and actress Dee Roscioli who starred opposite Mr. Cariani in a New York City production of Love/Sick.
A Projects with Jason membership not only welcomes you to the Projects with Jason family, it opens doors to additional creative opportunities like these. For more information on the membership plan that’s right for you, please visit www.projectswithjason.com.

 

SAVE THE DATE

Saturday November 14th @ 8pm (ET) / 5pm (PT)
Artists in Conversation: Savion Glover
 
Thursday November 19th @ 8pm (ET) / 5pm (PT)
Bloomfield Hills High School Virtual Cabaret Part 1Friday November 20th @ 8pm (ET) / 5pm (PT)
Bloomfield Hills High School Virtual Cabaret Part 2
 
Sunday November 22nd @ 7pm (ET) / 4pm (PT)
Projects with Jason Virtual Cabaret

 

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

Arbender Robinson
 
[Image Description: Photo of Arbender Robinson. He is facing straight-on to the camera. He has dark eyes and dark hair. He is smiling wide, with his teeth showing, sporting beard stubble and a blue button up shirt. End image description.]
Arbender Robinson is an actor. Credits include: Broadway: Hairspray, Hair, The Little Mermaid, Ragtime (revival), The Lion King, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Les Miserables, Shuffle Along, In Transit, and The Book of Mormon. Arbender is a graduate of Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a native of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living in NYC. He is a huge advocate for education and mental health awareness. 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Funny, I never really knew. I was not one of those actors that knew at a young age. In fact, I fought the idea for years. The universe had a different plan and kept putting [me] back in the path of theatre. So now, many years later, here I am.

What is your dream role/job?
Well the role does not exist because I want to be part of creating it. Hopefully it has something to do with mental health and Schizophrenia.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Outside of making my Broadway Debut or performing on the Tony Awards? I would have to say it was the first time I was awarded the Legacy Robe (1- see NOTES  below). That is the moment that it finally hit me that I was actually a Broadway Veteran. I have now been presented with the Robe 3 times. So cool.

What career advice would you give your younger self?
Know that the road will never look the way you planned. The career will never look the way you dreamed. However, the more you put in, the more you will get out, and it will be an amazing journey. Enjoy it.

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
I am not totally sure I understand the question. I guess NEVER. Right? Each goal simply opens the door for the next goal and hopefully that journey never ends. So I will never “make it.”

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
Gardening or doing DIY home projects.

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
Music. Any form of live music can take me from the lowest of low to the highest of high. Instantly!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I once worked at a fast food restaurant called Rax Roast Been. WORST JOB EVER! It should have been called RATS Roast beef. I didn’t last long at all. I was 16.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Rudeness. It angers me to the core when I see others being rude toward another human. Nothing bothers me more.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
I love to decorate for the Holidays and love shopping for new Holiday decor. The day after every Holiday is like hitting the jackpot. Everything is on “Final Clearance” and I will easily wipe out my bank account buying things.

What’s the phone app you use most?
Does my camera count as an app? I use it daily. Does the Google search count as an app? I also use that daily. Next in line would be an app I use for texting called Mood, followed by Facebook Messenger.

Current obsession?
This may sound cliché, but it is learning new music. Every day I seek out and learn a new song. Not to perform or make perfect, but to expose myself to something new. One new song leads to another and then I am down the rabbit hole of music. Smiling from ear to ear because music makes me happy.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Sky Diving (Never Again)

What makes you feel at peace?
Am I able to say music? Nothing calms me more than having a conversation with my baby sister. She is 4 years younger and so wise and strong. Otherwise, just taking moment to sit in silence is very peaceful and calms me as well. Or just a really big cry. Sometimes crying is healing and refreshing. I can cry at the drop of a hat. Any holiday commercial- and boom, waterworks, so that works too.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Teleportation for sure. I can be anywhere at any time. Yeah, bring it on.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
I want to eventually say I have been to EVERY continent.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
YUCK. Favorite ice cream? Something Arbender would NEVER say. Not a fan at all.

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
So I must admit, I am known to eat everything in sight for a midnight snack. Sour Patch Kids is my biggest “go-to”. Next would be cake. Please cake. Funny, sometimes I order two meals at dinner just to put one in the fridge for midnight. Really, midnight eating is a nightly thing for me. Healthy? Not at all, but I actually love it. Nothing beats a full meal as I wake from the first half of my slumber.

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?

“No, you will never make it as a professional actor.”
This was all the inspiration I needed to try harder, fight, and prove them wrong.

NOTES

(1) The Legacy Robe

“The ritual of the Legacy Robe takes place on opening night on the stage of every Broadway musical that has a chorus. It began in 1950 when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, persuaded Florence Baum, a chorus member, to let him have her dressing gown. As a lark, he sent it to a friend, Arthur Partington, in the chorus of Call Me Madam, on opening night, telling him it had been worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties. Arthur added a rose from Ethel Merman’s gown and sent it to a chorus member on the next opening night of Guys and Dolls. It was then passed from show to show in a haphazard way and was often presented to a friend of the previous recipient, or awarded to a chorus member based on popularity. Through the years the passing of the Robe became a specific ceremony with official rules stating how it is presented, worn and paraded on stage.

When Robes are completely covered with artifacts, souvenirs and sketches, they are retired and a new one started. Three retired Robes are at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts; three at at the Museum of the City of New York; two are in the Smithsonian; and all others are with Actors’ Equity.

The supervision and guardianship of the Robes are under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA) and David Westphal, National Chorus Business Representative.

‘The Legacy Robe’ was chosen based on a survey, made available to all AEA members, to replace the previous name, ‘Gypsy Robe.’ That decision was made following the recommendations of the  Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA) and the National Equal Employment and Opportunity (EEO) Committee that the name should be changed. During the vote, Equity heard from an Equity member of Roma heritage, who said, ‘I am deeply grateful for this change. The Romani people worldwide still face unimaginable discrimination and institutionalized racism and violence.’


The Legacy Robe blesses every Broadway musical! Keeping with the tradition, here are the rules:

1. The Legacy Robe goes only to Broadway musicals with a chorus.

2. The robe goes to a chorus member only, whoever has the largest number of Broadway Chorus credits.

3. The Ceremony traditionally occurs half an hour before opening night.

4. The new recipient must put on Robe and circle the stage counterclockwise three times, while cast members reach out and touch Robe for good luck. The new recipient then visits each dressing room while wearing the Robe.

5. The new recipient supervises addition of appliques from their show to the Robe. Important rules for adding mementos: for wearability, durability and longevity, add-ons must be lightweight, sturdy and reasonably sized so each Robe can represent a full season.

6. The opening night date and recipient’s name is written on or near the memento, and cast members only sign that section of Robe.

7. The recipient will attend the next Broadway musical opening and will present the Robe to that show’s recipient.”

-Excerpt from Actors’ Equity Association website

 

60 Seconds With . . . KIMBERLY COLE

 

Founder and Artistic Director J. Jason Daunter introduces the new segment- “60 Seconds With…” Spend 60 seconds getting all the important questions answered about Kimberly Cole- Projects with Jason‘s Production Manager.
 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Dublin Scioto High School,
Projects with Jason Member
By Vanessa Martinez, 
Projects with Jason Social Media Manager
 
[Image Description: Logo of Dublin Scioto High School Theatre Program. A drawing of an Irish man wearing a green suit, a green hat with a 3 leaf clover on it, and holding a pair of comedy tragedy masks. The number 5440 is the Thespian troupe number, and is on the comedy mask. The man has red hair and a red beard. End image description.]
Dublin Scioto High School (Troupe #5440) is located in Dublin, OH, a suburb of Columbus. Dublin, OH is the home of Wendy’s Hamburgers. Almost two hundred students participate in DSHS’ theatre program every year. The program is co-curricular and offers a number of theatre classes. DSHS produces five full-length shows each year, plus a Talent Show and a Cabaret. At least three of our shows are musicals. We have many Alums who work professionally in the entertainment industry. Patricia Santanello is the Director of Theatre at DSHS, and has provided all responses below.
 

What makes your theatre program unique?
We can (and do) make a home and safe space for every student who wants to be a part of what we do. Because we invite elementary and middle school students to participate in our annual children’s show, we have high school students in our program who have been doing shows with us every year since they were five.

What about your theatre program makes you most proud?
Our theatre program is completely inclusive and accessible both on stage and for our audiences. Our theatre classes and shows have been inclusive for over 20 years. We work with a team of special education teachers, paraprofessionals, student peers, and parents to make the rehearsal and performance experience comfortable and accessible for every student who wants to participate. In class, our students work with paraprofessionals and student peers every day.

Our Sensory Friendly theatre offerings are a special point of pride. Sensory friendly theatre is designed to be welcoming to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other sensory processing disorders. Some of the features of sensory friendly performances include:

  • lowered sound levels in the theatre
  • reduction in special effects such as strobe lights or fog
  • house lights stay on during the performance
  • limited seating in the house to provide more space and patrons can choose their own seats
  • everyone is welcome to get up and move around whenever/however they want to
  • patrons may vocalize or do whatever makes them comfortable during the performance
  • trained staff is available to assist families
  • sensory break areas are available in the theatre lobby
  • fidgets, manipulatives, weighted lap pads, and ear muffs are all available in the lobby for patrons to use during the performance
  • video monitors are available throughout the lobby so that patrons who are using the sensory break areas can watch the show from a comfortable distance
  • a Social Story is available before the show to assist families with the unfamiliar experience of attending the theatre
  • Family Tip Sheets are provided ahead of time so that families know what the show is about, what the theatre is like, and what to expect before, during, and after the show

What was the last production you did before the shutdown?
Matilda, the Musical.

How has your program adapted to the quarantine?
We are making it work. We are proud of the season that we have put together and we are not approaching it as “less than” – it’s just different. This year we are assuming that we will be working remotely for shows, with the possibility of bringing small groups on stage to film the show in small pieces. 

Our 2020-21 season includes:
The Scioto Veterans Theatre Project – a collaborative, original Verbatim Theatre piece based on the Social Studies department’s annual veterans projects.
The Holiday Channel Christmas Movie WonderthonStay-at-Home edition by Don Zolidis.
The Alternate: A Musical Tale of Nikola Tesla – Written by the students and staff of Lovewell, Fort Lauderdale. A collaborative project with our school’s AP Studies class, AP Art, and Engineering.
Tuck Everlasting – Theatre for Young Audiences version.
Advanced Acting Ensemble Cabaret
Monty Python’s Edukational Show

If you could share one thing with theatre educators about teaching virtually, what would it be?
Find the positives! We are learning new skills that will serve us well in the future.

What are the biggest challenges your program has faced with the quarantine?
Not being able to rehearse in the building; concerns about keeping everyone safe and healthy; not having students in class more than twice a week. Our district is currently in a hybrid model where we have students with names from A-K on Monday and Thursday, students with names from L-Z on Tuesday and Friday, and we teach our Remote Learning Academy students on Wednesdays. COVID has changed things for everyone. The model of instruction is fluid based on COVID numbers for our area.

If you could share one thing with students learning theatre virtually, what would it be?
Embrace the crazy, go with the flow, and learn something new!

What are you most looking forward to when you are able to have all your students back in the classroom?
Seeing all of their faces every single day. I miss them.

What is the first production you will do when you are able to put on a live performance again?
Probably Something Rotten.

Any word of wisdom to share with Projects with Jason members?
Our students need our theatre programs – in whatever form they take – more than ever!

 

 

A short look of the work Dublin Scioto High School theatre program has done in the past.Video Credit: Dublin Scioto High School theatre students.
 

If you’re a Projects with Jason Member and would like to see your program featured in our newsletter, please complete this form: 

https://tinyurl.com/PwJMembersSpotlight

 

SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

 

“For Good”, from the musical Wicked. Performed by Alli Mauzey as Glinda and Nicole Parker as Elphaba, with Jason Yarcho accompanying on piano.

We celebrate the anniversary of Wicked, and reflect on the impact our relationships can have on our lives this Thanksgiving.

 

 
[Image Description: Photo of Alli Mauzey. She is wearing a polka-dot blouse. She has dark hair and dark eyes. The shot shows her from collarbones up. End image description]ABOUT ALLI MAUZEY
Alli was most recently seen on Broadway as Ernestina in the Tony Award winning revival of Hello, Dolly!. Before that, she starred on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked, a role she also performed to critical acclaim in the First National Tour and the San Francisco company. Other Broadway credits include Lenora in the musical Cry-Baby, for which she won a Theatre World Award and was nominated for a Drama League Award, and Brenda in Hairspray (both on Broadway and in the original company of the First National Tour). She has a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in drama and a minor in music. 

[Image Description: Photo of Nicole Parker. She is smiling with her teeth. She has dark hair and dark eyes. The photo shows her from the neck up. End image description.]

ABOUT NICOLE PARKER
Nicole starred on Broadway as Elphaba in Wicked from 2009-2012. She then went on to play Elphaba in the 1st National Tour of Wicked. Another Broadway role of hers was Red in the musical The People in the Picture. Nicole has also played roles in film and television throughout her career. Credits include: Jessica Simpson, Enchanted Princess, and Amy Winehouse in Disaster Movie, Dawn in Funny People, Penelope Pitstop in the animated series Wacky Races, and a cast member in the television series MADtv. Nicole studied Theatre and Voice at Indiana University.

 

PwJ TEAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

[Image Description: Photo of Jeff Hall. He is smiling with his teeth. He has green eyes, and dark hair with graying at his temples. He is balding, and wearing a plaid button up shirt. End image description.]
Photo of: Jeff Hall

The Art of the Possible
By Jeff Hall
Projects with Jason Production Education

When I began teaching at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon in 1991 (at the time, filling in for a theatre teacher who was taking a half-year sabbatical [it was my extraordinarily good fortune that he enjoyed his new pursuits and extended his leave…indefinitely]), the thought of one day starting my 30th year of teaching at that school never entered my mind, let alone how I’d be starting that year. The 2020-2021 School Year is obviously very different than any of us had imagined.While considering the global nature of the pandemic and how 2020 has impacted us all, my wife Koleen has become a fan of the observation, “We’re not all in the same boat, we’re in the same storm.” Suffice it to say that, as theatre teachers, our collective fleet has been tossed and tested in ways we had never dreamed, regardless of our individual circumstances. Whether teaching in person, remotely, or in some hybrid fashion; synchronously or asynchronously (truly a leading candidate for 2020’s “vocab word of the year”); and without even factoring in our individual personal lives (from working spouses and school-aged children, to studio-apartments-turned-classrooms), I believe that when theatre education emerges intact on the other side of this particular storm, it will largely be due to the fact that the armada was piloted by true believers and practitioners of precisely what theatre education teaches: creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and role playing.

 

“ I’ve decided to pretend that I’m taking
       a sabbatical from my regular job, like
       I’m teaching in another country or 
       something, working on some totally
       new project. I can try some new things,
       and then go back to my regular job
     
 next year.
                          ”
After navigating our way through a remote version of the end of last school year, and faced with more of the same as the new school year approached, my co-teacher here at Jesuit came to a Department Meeting in July with a brand new way to frame this year in a very different perspective.“I’ve decided to pretend that I’m taking a sabbatical from my regular job,” she said, “like I’m teaching in another country or something, working on some totally new project. I can try some new things, and then go back to my regular job next year.” I liked the outlook, if only as a role playing exercise.We decided to embrace the new adventure, and to stop focusing on anything we couldn’t do. Our focus would only be on what was possible. Yes, I know, easier said than done. I honestly don’t know if it was a Pollyanna-like approach, or a matter of survival. I mean, adrift in the ocean with a boat that is clearly sinking, you pretty quickly start reaching for anything that floats, right?I want to acknowledge that I’m writing today from a place of significant gratitude for being in a sound boat. From my safe and secure home-life to my working environment, at a school where my students and I enjoy an incredibly supportive community and administration, I feel very blessed and very lucky to be able to stay afloat, and to recognize – among the significant challenges – some meaningful and important learning opportunities.I’m so grateful to still be learning. Here are three things I’ve learned:

1.) SAYING YES IS NOT JUST FOR IMPROV

It’s the first rule of improv, right? Always say yes– accept all offers. Projects with Jason founder, Jason Daunter, is fond of describing the PwJ Team as people who would answer the phone and say yes when he called with some new project or venture or idea. While many would remain ideas (and believe me, Jason has a lot of them), being receptive to possibilities has been the secret sauce behind the PwJ  Team’s work.

Who better than Theatre People to develop new tactics in pursuit of our objectives? This is an opportunity to practice what we preach.

I have long held that a huge part of my job is to introduce my students to as many people who aren’t me, to create connections with other educators, professionals in the field, and as many perspectives as possible. In our current situation, this approach is paying off big time. I have developed a veritable fleet of supporting boats to surround me in this storm.

One silver lining to these cloudy times is that it has forced many of us to look outside our normal circles. This has inspired greater connection with online communities – platforms like EdTA’s Theatre Educator Pro, and team-based experiences such as the ones Projects with Jason is working to create. 

Your alignment with PwJ can create meaningful resources for you and your students, simply because you saw the opportunity and said yes.

2.) IF IT EXISTED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN, IT’S NOT
     TECHNOLOGY (AND IT DOESN’T SCARE YOU)
For a long time, my approach to new technology was to assign a student to learn it, and then teach me.  And while this sometimes felt like I was copping out, it invariably worked. And I’m still doing it! In our Fall production – a hybrid live/remote production – I knew we’d be relying heavily on video editing, so I added a unit at the top of my Tech Theatre class. This got students working on their iPads with Adobe Premiere Rush, a video editing software. They were amazingly adept- far more than me.My point here is that I’ve learned not to feel inadequate when faced with the rapidly changing technology in our field, or really in any field. Navigating the tech behind remote learning is a steep curve for anyone. It’s easy to not know something, get frustrated, and give up. Help is available! Your network of fellow educators is a good place to turn. The PwJ Team is here for you. But that grid of faces on your screen also represents a wealth of resources.In a recent PD workshop here at school, the presenter asked us to name technologies that significantly impacted our lives. Cell phones topped the list, along with expected answers like the internet, social media, email, etc. He then put up a picture of a light switch, and noted that none of us had mentioned it. Just an ordinary wall switch, not even a smart one. He showed us a sign from an 1880’s hotel room in New York, warning guests that the room was equipped with electric lights and they should not attempt to light them with a match. The sign directed them to a key on the wall- a new piece of technology: the light switch.Things we take for granted today were once a source of confusion and were often approached with trepidation. I’m not convinced that young people necessarily have a higher aptitude for understanding technology. They definitely don’t approach new technology with the same sense of caution or anticipated frustration that their elders often do. Harness their ease and familiarity- let it inspire you to experiment with technology, and to play.

3.) IT’S THE WHAT THAT’S IMPORTANT, NOT THE HOW

Finally, what I keep telling myself is that my job hasn’t changed. What I’m trying to do with my students is the same. What’s changed for all of us is how we do what we do. Of course, transitioning to a new how can be time consuming and daunting at times, but it can also create new possibilities. When focusing on what’s possible, I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on things that are newly possible – things we couldn’t do as a class in The Before Times. 

Our attempt at a hybrid performance this Fall (with a very small, distanced audience in person, and a larger virtual audience at home) has us looking for ways to engage both audiences, but in different ways. We’re looking to create elements of the performance that are enhanced by the virtual nature of the presentation, so watching from home is not a “less than” proposition. Yeah, I know, good luck. And the jury is way out on whether or not any of our ideas are going to work. But! The attempt is going to be interesting. And even if it all falls apart, we will have learned something in the process, which (I keep telling myself) is the whole point. And, regardless, this sabbatical will soon be over and we’ll be heading back to our regular jobs soon enough. Right? …Right?!?

Here’s hoping, when we return to whatever new normal awaits us, that we find ourselves with a renewed outlook and understanding, and new resources to carry forward. It’s going to take a yes approach. It’s going to take a willingness to try and maybe fail. It’s going to take a team. I am grateful to be on this team – that my boat is in this fleet – with Projects with Jason, and with all of you.

 

PROJECTS WITH JASON MEMBERS

PATRONS
Julia Cuppy
Gloria McIntyreCONTRIBUTORS
Jamie Brown
Lauren Carroll & Chris Herman
John & Jane Conover
Nick RobinsonPRODUCERS
Donnie Bryan
Debby Gibbs
Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, CA, Educator Karen Chandler
Carson High School, Carson, CA, Educator Marcia Barryte
Galt High School, Galt, CA, Educator Sonja Brown
Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School, Bethlehem, PA, Educator Amanda PascaleSUSTAINERS
Kyle D & Kimberly Cole
Matt Conover
J. Jason Daunter
Philip & Krista Elhai
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
Alma Middle School, Alma, AR, Educator Marti Jo Salisbury
Ashland High School, Ashland, OR, Educator Betsy Bishop
Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield, MI, Educator Mary Bogrette
Buford High School, Buford, GA, Educator Kimberly Staples 
Charter Oak High School, Covina, CA, Educator Nicole Pedroche
Claremont High School, Claremont, CA, Educator Krista Carson Elhai
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin, OH, Educator Pat Santanello
Gresham High School, Gresham, OR, Educator Jeff Schroeder
Jesuit High School, Portland, OR, Educator Jeff Hall
Liberty High School, Henderson, NV, Educator Sharon Chadwick
Lincoln High School, Portland, OR, Educator Jim Peerenboom
Munster High School, Munster, IN, Educator Ray Palasz
North Kansas City High School, Kansas City, MO, Educator Randy Jackson
Olympia High School, Olympia, WA, Educator Dallas Myers
Penn Manor High School, Millersville, PA, Educator Melissa Mintzer
Royal Oak Middle School, Covina, CA, Educator Nicole Pedroche
San Juan Hills High School, San Juan Capistrano, CA, Educator Cambria Graff

 

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