FEBRUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER

A MESSAGE FROM JASON

I will never forget watching the 2004 Tony Awards as Ms. Phylicia Rashad accepted her Tony Award for her brilliant performance in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. With this win Ms. Rashad became the first African American Actress to win a Tony for Best Actress in a Play. This was 2004!?!?! Her words were simple but spoke volumes to a larger picture and met the moment of a female African American Actress in the American Theatre finally being recognized. In high school the month of February was dedicated to the celebration and study of Black Theatre History. I was introduced to the works of August Wilson, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin to name a few. I was obsessed with The Piano Lesson. Years later I was given the chance to work with George C. Wolfe, Savion Glover, Audra McDonald, and Billy Porter in New York City on a new musical, Shuffle Along. With each experience I grew as an artist and, unbeknownst to me, also grew as a human. I am happy to celebrate Black History Month with the amazing articles in this newsletter, contributed by very talented artists who were gracious enough to share their voices with us.

A big thank you to PwJ friend Scot Reese for his insight and connections and Vanessa Martinez for cultivating this amazing group of authors.

I ask us all to continue to listen, learn, and grow. The arts are always the voice of change and we can make that change happen together.

Also, the rumors are true, and I do indeed turn 40 this week! I have to thank all of you for being on this crazy journey that is life with me! I am humbled to still be collaborating with so many gifted people and to have met so many incredible educators and students over the many years of doing this. Big thanks from me for your continued support of educational theatre and creating these one-of-a-kind opportunities. To the PwJ Team you have my love and respect for all you do.

Until next time,

Jason

Watch Phylicia Rashad’s Acceptance Speech

 



 

IS THE EQUITY AND INCLUSION IN THEATRE YOU ARE TEACHING NATURAL AND NECESSARY?

 

Author: Goldie Patrick

When I was 19 years old and a wide-eyed and radical acting and playwriting major at Howard University, a professor introduced me to a play that would dramatically change the trajectory of my career ambitions in theatre and challenge what I believed about the 11 years of theatre I learned in schools. We were in playwriting class. I excitedly presented my idea of writing a play about hip hop where the characters would rap and DJ on stage. I was connived this was revolutionary. I was right. But, I was also late to the idea. Instead, my professor, Sybil Roberts gently let me know that it had already been done before and by persons not that much older than me. I was elated and stunned.

Why hadn’t I heard of this hip hop theatre before now? How do I get more of it? Where can I find it? The answer was simple. It was being made in real-time around me and that meant I had the opportunity to grow and learn with and inside this budding genre of theatre. I sought out the founders and pioneers of hip hop theatre and sat at their feet as they built and developed this amazing genre. This genre of Hip Hop theatre is what my artistic life has largely been dedicated to since that one playwriting class. I’ve since been a professor of hip hop history and culture, sat on countless panels and workshops, worked in the nonprofit world around funding it, and I’ve written and produced several hip hop theatre plays. But, perhaps most importantly, I have worked with young people helping them learn and develop hip hop theatre of their own.

Now imagine what would’ve happened if instead when I announced my idea, my professor insisted that I try to model my work to be more like August Wilson (with whom I’d studied most of my life). or even worse, steered me in the direction of adopting more classical templates and works like Ibsen, Williams, or Shakespeare, so that I can have a “successful” career in playwriting.

Why am I telling you this story? Because as a teacher, mentor, or professor you have the opportunity to grow the possibilities of your students and their love and voice in theatre. You can do it by resisting the urge to prescribe the antiquated ideas of assimilation that have plagued most drama programs at every level across educational institutions in this country. White American theatre is not the normal, goal or blueprint that all theatre shall be made from. That idea is the basis for too many of the stolen dreams and creativity of BIPOC students in theatre. Now, this is the part where you read the rest of this article with your students out loud.

Theatre is yours (students). It is not for the elite and meant to be easily digestible. Quite the contrary. It is supposed to be delicious and irresistible but, at its very best, theatre is the most uncomfortable healing space one can imagine. The question is who is supposed to be uncomfortable? The answer is radical but my sincere belief. The forces of power whether delusional, stolen, or oppressive powers should be constantly uncomfortable in theatre. The rigid ideas of how to write a play, how to behave in a theatre, and what is deemed valuable or classical work must be interrogated at every level until the heavy hand of white supremacy is vetted and edited out. Then we can all find ourselves and our voices in theatre.

I would even boldly suggest that as educators our greatest job is not to teach or prescribe, but rather to learn; from your students. Studies have shown that younger generations are living with more inclinations towards inclusivity and cultural competence and compassion. So, now we have the chance to put the next generation in head of the evolution of theatre to create the most innovative art imagined. Your duty is actually to believe in the power and genius of your students enough to never inhibit their journey. What does that look like in practice? I have some suggestions. They all bloom from the foundation that it’s time to create anew.

Lean into discomfort
Start but don’t center your realities. If you are white…you must say “I am white”. If you are CIS, you have to say, “I am CIS”. The list continues but in this way. This creates the space for the student who has been shamed for being “other” to find power in owning their identity. Once you say this, move out the way. Age and education don’t alway equal cultural understanding and knowledge, so if you don’t know, ask for suggestions on learning. And even if you learn more, be careful to not assume the role of expert from your research.

Modeling the, “We see you white American theatre” how can teachers move past their own inherent racial biases to leverage discomfort as the impetus for creation for the next generation of theatre-makers in February.

Learn yourself
Ask your students to candidly suggest “what they feel you need to know?” Ask your student to honestly express “what they believe they as students need to know?” Ask your students to define “what success means for them”, “what makes a play worth their time” and what stories and characters they know in their lives but have yet to see on stage. Once you get these answers search the vast cannon of Black theatre to find these plays. Remember Blackness is global.

Go beyond August Wilson, Hansberry, Nottage. These icons have a rich and valuable lineage that is recent and poignant. Remember racism is systemic in America so if you don’t know the playwrights that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. That means you haven’t found the source to find them. Think outside of traditional playwriting as inspiration and pick fruit from music, and blogs, and film and other Black creatives that are storytellers. Theatre is evolutionary so find new voices and inclusive voices.

Use politics as a premise
Have students contribute prompts for making new work based on the socio-political realities of their own lives. The Black Arts Movement is a great example of how politics of the Black community shape and inform the content of the theatre created.

Inclusivity is beyond showing up – it includes equity
No one story is more important than the other. So, make a home for devising in your teaching. Move beyond the culture of teaching that was used to teach compliance and order and instead see what your students create under the culture of liberation. There are several forms of devised, protest theatre, and guerrilla and ritual theatre aesthetics that are great blueprints for this. Encourage your students to create collectively and let it be messy and weird and unconventional.

History is a mixture of studying and radical imagination
Ask your students to imagine what this moment they are present in looks like when its discussed 20 years from now, 30, 40, and 50.

Don’t be whack!
Trust the judgment of your students. If they don’t like something don’t dismiss it easily, ask the difficult questions of why? This also helps them develop constructive analysis and critique for their work and their peer’s work. Create opportunities to develop articulation around aesthetics that they find engaging and interesting and culturally relevant. Theatre is historically uninviting and disenfranchising for Black, Indigenous and Persons Of Color, so honor and work to understand any positions or resistance around engaging in traditional theatre.

My genuine hope is that every student experiences a Professor Roberts. A teacher who listens and believes in them and their idea enough to lead them to the revolution happening around them. Professor Roberts is still in my life. She is a close friend, commrade and I have had the honor to produce several of her plays in my theatre company for Black women and girls. But, Professor Robert’s was able to have that impact on me because she lived and learned the very ideas of innovation, intersectionality, and revolution she was teaching. I encourage you all to do the same. As we live more in our own individual practices of inclusion, equity and social and racial justice, teaching it in theatre is both very natural and necessary. Onward.



 

 

BAD TEACHER

Author: LeVonne Lindsay

“After I received word of my promotion to full professor this past June — a day after my 39th birthday — I decided to text my friends rather than post the news on Twitter. One of them asked how I was celebrating. I told her that I wasn’t yet. Instead, I was making a list of all the people who had tried to destroy my career.” –​Marlene Laut,​ ​Becoming Full Professor While Black​.

Professor Laut’s opening paragraph from her article in The Chronicle of Higher Education hit like a direct punch to the gut. Her experience was a painful reminder of my tenure process at a primarily white institution in Central Virginia. Unfortunately, there was no moment of triumph at the end of my story.

I will admit, I was ambivalent about becoming a full-time academic in the mountains of Virginia, but I was desperate to get back to Washington DC after spending five years teaching in rural Georgia. I thought a two-hour commute might just be close enough. I couldn’t shake the feeling the job was setting me up for failure. I was the only woman of color in the theater department, and the only faculty member asked to teach classes outside of their expertise. I was a costume designer with a background in fashion teaching Intro to Theater to non-majors. One of my design courses required an entire section on both scenic and lighting design. Unsurprisingly, I was not an exceptional lecturer on subjects I had cursory knowledge about. However, it was clear that some of my students held highly racialized perceptions of my intelligence. My student evaluations were abysmal. I was labeled as a “bad teacher” for talking about the history of racist practices on Broadway, Black theater, or even deducting points on papers for poor spelling or grammatical errors.

My tenured colleagues offered little support. One professor who came to observe my class claimed I had no control over my classroom just because I chose not to close the door. In production, he accused me of failing to meet non-existent deadlines. When I pushed back on feedback that I could prove was unfair, biased, or demonstrably false, I was reprimanded for being uncooperative. A committee member blatantly confessed she would not have been granted tenure if held to the same criteria and invited me to dinner at her home. ​Yet she signed the letter assessing all my contributions as unsatisfactory just the same. ​I was working under the good faith that my peers would evaluate me on the merits of my work and as a new instructor almost entirely out of her element. I had been wildly naive.

The process of applying for tenure at that institution nearly broke me, so I resigned. It made me question everything I knew about myself and the measures of success. Until that moment, I was fundamentally unfamiliar with the concept of failure. I graduated high school at the top of my class, went to college on a full academic scholarship, and then five years later, my graduate application to the University of Maryland, my top choice, was accepted immediately. After that, I won a distinguished fellowship at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and was awarded for showing exceptional promise and leadership in my field. Despite all of my accomplishments, I currently work in a staff position with a base pay of $40,788 in Philadelphia, the country’s 6th largest metropolitan area. In a good year, with additional adjunct teaching and freelance work, I might clear just over $55,000. I take full responsibility for the choices I made based on the knowledge, resources, and opportunities available to me at the time. When I see tenure-track positions open in red areas across the country, I don’t regret how my situation played out for a moment. What I am saying is that I have been some places, I have seen some things, and I know this much is true:

If you are a Black student in a theater department with no full-time or tenured black professors, you are bound to run into some problems. If your administrators hire but cannot retain BIPOC full-time professors, it is most likely because they are not making adequate space for them to succeed in your department. They may be allowing saboteurs to derail their success or putting them in situations where they are almost certain to fail. If they refuse to acknowledge the unique challenges facing you as students at primarily white institutions and cannot provide the support they need, remain steadfast in believing that hiring more BIPOC teachers will alleviate that problem.

It is undeniable there are fewer BIPOC in theater design and technology who are also pursuing careers in academia. We are also apprehensive about relocating to unwelcoming or unsafe areas where many of these jobs are located. Your administrators will translate this predicament into the belief they cannot find qualified candidates. Often they are holding them to higher standards than white professors with equal or inferior credentials. If you ask for better representation, do not allow them to offer you this excuse without demanding greater transparency about their hiring and recruiting practices. I served on numerous search committees and diversity councils when I was an assistant professor. When you check off two boxes for them as a woman and an ethnic minority, that is what you get assigned to do. I have seen people hired by manipulating recommendations in favor of our preferences. I have served on a committee that preferred a guest artist with Asian heritage and an Ivy League education over an equally qualified Latin-American candidate to direct a Lorca play. I have witnessed white faculty begrudgingly accept promotions delivered by organizational shifts in the department with no job search conducted whatsoever. What I have never seen is I have never in my life seen a BIPOC candidate in a tenure-track position who got there with a questionable resume.

The reality is that most BIPOC in academia are required to be ​more​ accomplished than the average white candidate just to get their foot in the door. We have all been told to be practitioners of the “twice as good” philosophy. ​Black men and women account for less than 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States​. Yet, we continue to see a great deal of hand-wringing over the possibility that somebody may hire a less qualified Black candidate over a white one. The decades of mediocrity created by departments where the vast majority of the faculty is white rarely comes into question. White administrators repeatedly ask BIPOC candidates to meet on an equal playing field while turning a blind eye to all of the hurdles placed in their path. None of us want to be hired based solely on the color of our skin. We are only asking for the much-needed perspective an all-white faculty cannot provide, including the implicit bias ingrained in their hiring and promotion practices.

Despite what you may see, the BIPOC adjuncts, guest artists, and staff members who make their way to your campus do not want to be paraded around as proof of your department’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are not there to photograph so that your school’s promotional or recruiting materials can give a false impression of their workforce’s racial composition. It is appalling for others to take credit for our visible presence while subjugating us to minor, temporary, powerless roles. Hiring POC as guest artists, lecturers, designers, and directors to work on your designated productions featuring marginalized people’s struggle is quite frankly ​the very least​ that they can do. Universities that are genuinely committed to their Diversity and Inclusion statements must start investing their money and efforts into engendering real and immediate structural change. Until that happens, all that they are offering is lip service. Until we begin to see progress, BIPOC students, staff, and faculty alike have the right to call them out on their fraud.

I don’t know how my story ends or what big news I’ll have to post on Twitter one day. I could have let my situation break me, but I picked up my pieces and persevered instead. ​Continuing my professional and artistic development is instrumental in forging the way for others to follow. As a Black woman, educator, and designer, it is my responsibility to pave the way for others to break down the barriers that stood in my way. My constant objective is to inspire those who feel unseen or undervalued in the theater industry. I want students to use their creative skills not only as a means for careers as successful theatre artists but also as tools that can ultimately change the world. The revitalization of the theater arts weighs upon our shoulders. We stand at the precipice of an era that could induce sweeping, radical changes in our power structures. It is time to take that final leap.

 



 

CREATING DURING THE PANDEMIC

A Recipe for Art & Devising with the
Local Community

Author: Anastasia Wilson

COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on the arts. Many artists found themselves without work, without an artistic home to frequent, without human contact, and without an outlet to share. Citizens found themselves adapting quickly and frequently to an ever changing climate with no sign of a conclusion to the shifts. Modes of relaxation and community were largely unavailable to people. The world seemed as if the flames of isolation were smoldering. Underneath all of the ash of 2020, citizens still had a need for community, and artists found themselves with an ember that would not extinguish and that is the impulse to create and feel alive, no matter what. My long time devising colleague Rachel Hynes and I knew there was an opportunity here.

Rachel and I have both created, devised, performed and trained all over the globe, and we were eager to get back in touch with our devising roots and explore what was evolving into the new age of theatrical experiences. We formed Joy & Pang Productions and got to work. We sought a virtual performance that embodied the visceral, energetic, and multi sensory experience of seeing a play and being in the space with others. We then devised Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses.

Love Story: A Meal in five courses was our ​opportunity to connect to people during the quarantine. The Covid-safe, online performance, invites the audience to collaboratively tell a multi-sensory love story through a fine dining experience. We had a test run as part of the Interface Lab in the summer of 2020. We sold out in 14 days. We extended. We sold out again within 48 hours. Because our performance was virtual, we connected with people all over the globe. One thing was clear, people were longing for the live experience and for connection. We had uncovered a way to augment the live theatrical experience and still make it every bit as palpable to the audience. Not only that, the audience became a crucial performer during this virtual experience. Based on its initial successful run, we decided that Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses needed another run. We decided to enhance the production and find a way to involve the community in more unique ways. D​evised theatre typically involves the performers and designers creating a piece from nothing but an idea or impulse. No script. No text. Nothing but an idea. Often the designers and artists are in the room creating together, from day one. Our enhanced “couture theatre” experience, Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses does just that.

Rachel and I asked ourselves, how do we reconnect people with not only themselves, but their community? The next iteration of the show (opening March 2021) will now involve a collaboration with the business community. We seek a partner restaurant to whom we will drive business. The goal is that they will supply a curated box to all audience members that will be delivered to their doorstep just before the performance and incorporated into their interactive sensory experience. Devising requires the designers and performers to be creating together. Being able to make the community a part of the artistic process and performance is another way to continue to expand upon not only what devised theatre can do, but also redesign how it can connect people. The new stage is digital but every bit as connected and immersive as live theatre.

Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses brings the theatre to the comfort of your home and shines a gentle and inviting spotlight on the audience. Involving local restaurants allows people to connect with neighborhood vendors. It also supports another industry that saw devastating effects from the pandemic. Through art and this unique piece, people are able to share, support one another, and give back to their community. This is the expansive power of the arts. There is magic in developing a production for stage and film, but when a production is created through devising, it is alchemy.

Find out more about Love Story: A meal and Five Courses by following Joy & Pang Productions on Instagram @Joyandpangproductions. Learn more about Rachel Hynes, Anastasia Wilson, and ticket information.



 

A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS

Author: Joshua R. Lamont

There are a million reasons to pursue a career in the arts. Many of those reasons often deal with what “I” can get out of it. Fame. Fortune. Meeting cool people. Being seen…. Ahh there it is. Being seen. A lot of the reasons why I first started acting was because I wanted to be seen. I wanted people to see me. See my talent. See my work ethic. See that I’m valuable. The theater has and continues to provide that for me. But there was another thing that working in the theater provided. It allowed me to see the community I serve.

While studying at the University of Maryland, College Park, I had a professor tell me that as actors, we give voice to the voiceless. I never understood what she meant until I started producing my own work. In 2011, I collaborated with Company of Angels on the piece FATIGUED. FATIGUED looked at the repercussions the Iraq/Afghanistan war has had on American soldiers, their families, and the communities they lived in. The piece targeted military veterans and included several talkbacks with service men and women. During one particular talkback, a young man dressed in all black with hair covering his face rose his hand to speak. He was soft-spoken but intense. He said that this was his first outing with his friends and that he could finally tell them about what happened when he was overseas. He had been deployed but never really returned. He couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about his experiences because it was too much, but after seeing our play, he wanted to talk.

In 2016, I helped to produce the Los Angeles production of #Every28Hours. The production was a part of a nationwide initiative that was spearheaded by the One-Minute Play Festival, The Ferguson Movement, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. #Every28Hours had 72 one-minute plays and included more than 60 artists from Los Angeles. #Every28Hours looked at the statistic that every 28 hours, a black man, woman or child is killed by someone employed by the US government. This production was first presented in Watts, California and then moved to California State University Dominguez Hills. It was here that I heard countless stories on the pain and frustration that comes with the devaluation of black life. Today, I am the Development Manager of The Actors’ Gang, a nonprofit theater organization in Culver City. While my accomplishments there have been plenty – touring in the United States and to Italy, performing for over 2,000 guests, premiering new work, raising loads of money, I am most proud of my work as a teaching artist in K-12, continuation high schools, inside California state prisons, reentry facilities, and juvenile camps. This work is most fulfilling because I get to watch our students unlock their emotions, share their authentic voices, and see their fellow players in a new light. I can’t tell you how many incarcerated people have told me, “If I had just had this class growing up, I don’t think I would be here now.”

As Black History Month continues, I know I stand on the backs of giants. People who fought and died for my freedom as a black man, as a creative. Believe it or not, they fought and died for ALL of our freedoms. I believe as artists we have the power to speak for those who cannot. We have the power to see solutions where there were none. We have the choice to open our hearts so others can open theirs. And I sincerely hope that gives you purpose and meaning beyond the stage lights and audience applause.

*In California, there are over 174,880 men, women, and children currently impacted by the justice system (CDCR Spring Projections 2020). Many of these individuals are people of color and come from communities that have been under resourced, devalued, and divested.



 



 

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…



What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I would have to say playing Anna. Liesl Tommy and the Disney family decided to break all the rules and cast a rainbow of colors in that original cast of Frozen. It was life changing. I got so many messages from young girls and their mothers telling me that they were insired to see me on stage representing them in such a great way. So many conversations with college kids and speaking with them about their goals and their futures.

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
“It’s going to be hard. It’s not suppose to be easy when you are doing what you’re doing. But you were born for this. So never stop.”

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
I’ve always wanted to sing. I’ve always loved it. I found theatre arts in Middle School when I first listened to the musical “RENT”. I was blown away. I wanted to play MIMI so bad at 14. My mother was terrified. But that show opened up my eyes to Broadway.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
Taking an Epsom Salt Bath with my Essential oils.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Watching “Married at First Sight”

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
Watching cat videos on YouTube

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate Malted Krunch from Thrifty Ice Cream

Current obsession?
The Crown

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who ask for help without doing anything to help themselves.

What is your dream role/job?
Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I sold computer print supplies

What career advice would you give your younger self?
Two ways actually. When Oprah knows my name or When i can switch all my bills to “auto-pay”.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Family Meals

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
The scariest thing I ever did was move to New York. I wanted to take the chance to see if I liked it. I didn’t really know anyone. It was a rough 7 months but then i got a job back in California and moved back. I realized just how much of a California girl I am. I love New York and I had to actually live there to try it out.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
If I were superhero, I would probably have some water/air bending skills. I love the ocean and I love the wind. I would be able to manipulate those two things.

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Chocolate Frosting… its always frosting. hehehe

 

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN
TO BE AN ACTOR CEO?

AUTHORED BY MICHAEL MORENO, HOST OF THE ACTOR CEO PODCAST

It’s a truly special thing to be in training as an actor. Whether you’re in a high school program, college or beyond, that growth and incubation period is important for developing your craft. 

But then you graduate…and immediately become a business. That’s right, you become a creative entrepreneur, the CEO of YOU – THE ACTOR, and your success over the years is based very much on you operating from that perspective. You are in charge of the marketing, pitching, relationship building, improvement and direction of your business from day one! And it’s hard to get that education in school. 

This education is where The Actor CEO Podcast comes in. With over 150 episodes with industry pros reaching 14K followers around the world, the podcast and ActorCEO.com are focused on helping actors treat their career like a business. It’s what has kept us rated as a Top Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks and has allowed me, Mike Moreno, to host the show, write articles for Backstage and Stage Milk, coach actors and bring these teachings to schools and programs around the country. 

One program I teach (now virtually) to college and university acting classes is called Actor to Actor CEO: 5 Keys to Building Your Acting Business. The 5 keys I think every actor must master to create a sustainable creative life (even in a pandemic) are:

  1. Know what you’re great at right now.

  2. Find your audience.

  3. Never be afraid to pitch yourself.

  4. Master your messaging.

  5. Build relationships.

I’ll dive into two of these keys, Know what you’re great at right now and Never be afraid to pitch yourself, in detail here. If you want more details and discussion on these 5 keys please feel free to reach out so we can share this program with your school or actor training program.

Know what you’re great at right now: Don’t be that actor who says “I can do everything.” It’s bad for business. It may be true, but you should find what one or two things you can do best right now and focus on them to build some momentum and foundational relationships with the people you want to work with.  The 80/20 rule works well here. Most likely, when you really think about all the roles you’ve been cast in or found that they came easy to you, there are probably about 20% of your roles that lead to 80% of your bookings, castings, rave reviews, and best results. That’s a profitable ratio and it makes things easier for you. You’re not wasting your time stressing over an audition, job, training, or trend that falls outside that 20% of roles that you can NAIL 80% of the time. You literally stop engaging, looking at or submitting for that work. It’s outside of your focus. You instead spend a year or two focusing and improving that 20% gold mine.

Never be afraid to pitch yourself: Knowing exactly who you are, what you do, and having a succinct way of telling someone can open incredible opportunities. What is your elevator pitch? How can you answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with “I’m a (sarcastic best friend with biting wit and a heart of gold) who (stands her ground and always brings her best).  You can see how that immediately allows someone to know who you are and what you do best. Now they know how you can help them in the future and it took you six seconds to make that impact. 

Quick story – Elizabeth Maxwell is an actor I had on the podcast, and she started out as an actor in LA then moved to Austin and things were moving slowly, she felt, in her acting career. She started to get interested in voice over, made her own VO demo in her closet from scratch by researching the VO demos of other working actresses and recording stuff she thought worked for her, THEN she also went to animation conventions to meet the people who were creating the work she wanted to be a part of. She did meet some people, got connected, got some contact info to follow up and she did. FOR MONTHS. “Professional persistence.” And one of those contacts finally had the time and space to get her in on an audition for an upcoming project that she booked and that started her journey into the world of voice over which she has been doing consistently for the last 10 years, because she pitched what she did best – non stop.

No matter what happens in our industry (recession, pandemic, changing trends) the fundamental fact that YOU are the chief creative decision maker and do not have to wait for permission, acceptance or validation from another to push your career forward will remain true. In fact, with more content out there than ever before and more platforms making it accessible directly to the audiences who want to see it, there is less preventing you from reaching those goals than in our entire artistic history.  

So empower yourself to own your space, your voice and take action every day that builds your business and pushes your dreams forward. 

 

MICHAEL MORENO
Creator and Host – Actor CEO Podcast

 

Michael runs The Actor CEO Podcast and ActorCEO.com (a Top Rated Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks), connecting thousands of actors around the globe to industry pros, tools, and resources to help them treat their career like a business filling the gap between training and building a sustainable creative life. Michael empowers modern artists by contributing content to multiple online outlets, teaching industry business and marketing classes in drama schools around the country and coaches creative professionals.

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT –
CLAREMONT HS

Authored by Krista Carson Elhai, Theatre Department Chair

The Claremont High School Theatre department, currently celebrating our 59th year, is an award-winning program with over 500 active members and three instructors. We have performed our productions at the California State Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival. Our students have won honors at local, state, and national levels, including hundreds of awards at the California State Thespian Festival.

 

 

What was the last production you did before the shutdown?
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

What is the first production you will do when you are able to put on a live performance again?
None. I am retiring in June and won’t have any more live productions

If you could share one thing with theatre educators about teaching virtually, what would it be?
Temper their expectations about how much can get done and focus on community

If you could share one thing with students learning theatre virtually, what would it be?
This time will be a blip in your life. Consider a journal or photo collage about your time during remote learning and use that information to create future art.

What about your theatre program makes you most proud?
The wide range of students involved in our program-Special Needs Students, AP & IB students, and three season athletes. Also, we are heavily involved in a great deal of community service -from face painting to toy drives to canned food collection. This is a requirement of students in order to become Thespians.

What are you most looking forward to when you able to have all your students back in the classroom?
Hearing happy chatter in the theatre.

How has your program adapted to the quarantine?
We have transferred almost all aspects of our program to virtual including the 7 shows, community service, and attending festivals and competitions.

What are the biggest challenges your program has faced with the quarantine?
How to involve our technicians. We have three sections of technical theatre and hundreds of technicians who are missing all of the construction and hands on aspects of our program.

What makes your theatre program unique?
The size. We have 25% of the student body involved in some aspect of the theatre program.

Any words of wisdom to share with Projects with Jason members?
Never underestimate the impact you are having on students. Some of them won’t realize it for many years, but what they are learning in theatre will give them an excellent foundation for just about anything in their future.

 

GETTING FIT FOR THE NEW YEAR
Authored by Kristen Sutton-Traina MS, DPT, OCS, ATC

As we enter into the New Year, we may be looking for ways to make healthy lifestyle changes. First, we need to ask ourselves what does it mean to be “healthy.” There are a number of factors that contribute to being healthy, and the importance of each factor may differ for each person. Both physical and mental health must be considered when evaluating our overall well-being. Our mental health involves how we cope with stress and how we manage our emotions. Nutrition, exercise and recovery must all be taken into account when considering physical health. The food we consume assists in fueling our bodies to provide nourishment and energy. Movement and exercise throughout the day strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health.  Finally, recovery, especially sleep, allows our body time to heal and prepare for the next day’s challenges. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I specialize in movement and exercise. Although this is only one piece of the big picture, it is important, especially for performing artists. Exercising regularly, and in a healthy manner, helps prevent injuries, enhance performance, increase energy levels and even improve mental health. 

As a performer, movement is an essential part of life. However, exercise is different from movement. It is important for performers, dancers included, to cross train in order to maintain a healthy body. Cross training encourages the use of different muscles, which will promote overall stability and strength. There are four main types of exercise: cardiovascular (aerobic and anerobic), muscular endurance, muscular strength and power. Cardiovascular exercise can be divided into aerobic and anerobic training. Aerobic exercise, which is typically known as “cardio”, is anything that can be sustained for > 20 minutes and requires at least moderate exertion; this may include walking, steady running or biking. Anerobic exercise involves shorter bouts of more vigorous activities, resulting in a higher heart rate for shorter periods of time with longer recovery intervals and includes exercises like sprinting. Muscular endurance is a type of strength training, which includes resistance bands, weights or body weight, but is performed with higher repetitions and shorter rest periods. Muscular strengthening is performed with heavier weights, fewer repetitions and longer rest intervals.  Finally, exercises which train for power involve explosive type movements, such as plyometrics. To maximize the benefits, power driven exercises are performed with fewer repetitions, greater intensity and longer rest intervals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes guidelines to help inform the public on recommendations for exercise. (see images) Based on the ACSM guidelines, muscular endurance or muscular strengthening exercises should be performed 2-3 days per week and cardiovascular training should be performed 3-5 days per week depending on the intensity of the workout. 

Pilates is a form of exercise that has become very popular among performing artists. Pilates typically combines muscular endurance training with flexibility while integrating the concept of core stability. Depending on the equipment available, individuals may use a jump board to integrate low impact power training as well. Pilates is performed lying down or seated using springs as a form of resistance. Performers enjoy the low impact nature of Pilates, and the focus on proper form in combination with core stability. Pilates is a great form of exercise and can be performed using equipment in studios or at home on a mat. To maximize the benefit of this type of training, it is important to progress slowly through each exercise and do not attempt movements that are too advanced.  

Although Pilates is effective, it is only one type of exercise. Other forms of exercise should be incorporated into weekly workout routines to promotes overall strength and body awareness. Exercise videos and programs may be found in Applications or online, especially on YouTube. Circuit training is one great way to combine muscular endurance and aerobic exercise. A circuit may consist of performing any exercise you choose, for example, choose 4-6 of your favorite exercises (example: 15 squats, 8 push-ups, 8 lunges and 10 mountain climbers); then repeat the same exercises 2-4 times with minimal rest between sets to promote cardiovascular endurance. When focusing on muscular strength simply perform exercises using weights to increase the difficulty and perform fewer repetitions. Make sure to integrate adequate rest in between sets while performing muscular strengthening. Circuit training can also involve plyometric training to promote improvements in power. Circuits can focus on leg, arms, core or a combination of different body regions. Alternate days of focusing on muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular training for a healthy balance. 

Walk-run programs may be used for cardiovascular training. If running is a new activity make sure to start running using a walk-run program. Start by walking for 5 minutes, running for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total workout time of 20-30 minutes. Try to increase the time spent running as your fitness level improves.      

There are countless options of different exercise programs, especially with the use of the internet. The keys to a good exercise program:

  • MAKE IT FUN. Whether you add music or video chat with a friend, make workouts enjoyable.
  • When performing a new exercise, make sure to perform the exercise correctly. Exercises are only beneficial if performed with proper form.  
  • Start simple and progress to more challenging exercises. 
  • Almost every exercise should be a core exercise. Make an effort to actively engage core muscles.  
  • Stop before complete fatigue and only exercise until “form fatigue”. (Form fatigue is when the body begins to deviate from proper alignment and exercise technique due to muscular fatigue with exercise.)
  • Always use supportive foot wear and proper flooring to prevent injury.  

Remember, exercise is only one component of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition, recovery and mental health must also be considered. As you begin a fresh start in 2021, create long- and short-term goals to set more reasonable expectations and ensure success for a healthy and happy New Year.  

Kristen Sutton-Traina, DPT, MS, OCS, ATC is an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist specializing in performing artists medicine since 2006. Her research interest is in the area of dance medicine; specifically, she has been studying the effects on long bone morphology on lower extremity range of motion and function; and recently took part in data collection investigating conservative treatment for FHL tendinopathy.  She completed her Residency and Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. Kristen completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology and Athletic Training at Michigan State University. She began her academic career at the University of Florida where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Health and Performance and Athletic Training.  Kristen worked with professional dancers in Orange County and Los Angeles assisting with preventing injuries through screening, therapeutic exercises and manual therapy.

 

MAINTAINING A HEALTHY VOICE FOR ACTORS
Authored by Tamiko Washington, Professor of Voice and Movement,
Chapman University

The desire to be seen in front of an audience is generally characterized by an insatiable need to be recognized as a performer, an artist, an actor, and as a person who is seeking the essence of a sacred space that can only be achieved through an actor-audience relationship.  This relationship is sought by many aspiring actors who desire their talents to be enhanced and shaped through training offered in a K-12 setting, a university/college four-year experience, or in private coaching sessions from theatre and film industry professionals.  This training tends to focus primarily on acting techniques that center around objectives, beats, tactics, focus, concentration, listening, truth, believability, working on one’s self, and character development.   The one aspect of training that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the importance of vocal training for actors.

Vocal training is the key that unlocks effective communication when an actor is given the privilege of speaking the lines of a playwright on stage in character.  Effective communication is simply the ability of an actor to transform a memorized piece of text into clear thoughts, ideas, and images that are communicated in moments involving fluid exchange of emotion and reaction-action responses.  The “voice” is the only direct communicative mechanism in the body to achieve this goal.  The question to ask is, “How is it achieved?”  The answer is acquiring knowledge of the anatomical structures of the vocal mechanism, understanding its physiology (function), learning and practicing vocal exercises and techniques that allow actors to demonstrate a free natural voice, having a conscientious acting instructor make physical adjustments (tongue, lower jaw, throat muscles, shoulders, upper torso) to eliminate vocal tract tensions when actors are incorrectly executing exercises and techniques, and applying vocal exercises and techniques to the communication of heightened language/text (Shakespeare, Greek, Poetry).  It is also imperative that a competent acting instructor approach vocal training with a sincere commitment to helping actors acknowledge the importance of practicing vocal exercises and techniques with ease, simplicity, patience, and specificity, as well as ensuring actors create a vocal warm-up to maintain a healthy vocal mechanism. 

When creating a vocal warm-up, actors can incorporate breath awareness (allowing breath to naturally “fall-in” and “fall-out” of the body), spinal roll-downs and roll-ups (easy spinal alignment), physical jiggles (relaxation), simple jaw release exercises, and the Lee Strasberg Chair Exercise (relaxation) as a basic vocal warm-up regimen.  Consider that a good performance is only as good as an actors’ preparation, and a crucial component to that preparation is implementing vocal training that is consistent with the practice of maintaining a proper vocal warm-up.

TAMIKO WASHINGTON
Associate Professor – Voice and Movement, Chapman University

Professor Tamiko Washington holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of California, Irvine.  Her seventeen-year history as an accomplished actor, voice, and movement teacher lead her to originate American Noh Theatre based on the traditional movements of Japanese Noh Theatre and Suzuki Master Tadashi Suzuki.  Her proven effective vocal methodology can be accredited to her extensive study with Linklater and Fitzmaurice specialists such as Dudley Knight, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Isabel Kirk, Dennis Krausnick, Tina Packer, Christine Adaire, Keely Eastley, Margaret Jansen, Lisa Wolpe, Adrienne Johns, and Louis Colaianni.  She continues to perform her (twelve-year) highly acclaimed one-woman show (Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, OC Weekly, Logan Daily News, Kansas City NewsIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (adapted for the stage by Deanna Sidoli and Kent Kirkpatrick) with help from the Irvine Foundation and Pacific Bell Telesis Foundation.  Her performance of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet with Shakespeare Orange County in 2007 won critical acclaim in the Los Angeles Times.  She also has appeared in notable Actors’ Equity Association performances at South Coast Repertory, the Old Globe Theatre, the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Orange County, Stages Theatre, the Vanguard Theatre, and Pacific Theatre Ensemble, among others.  Her television credits include co-starring and guest artist roles in the television shows Pensacola, Silk Stalkings, High Tide, Extreme Blue, and Vanishing Son, and two Lifetime Movie Network films, Two Small Voices and Kidnapped.  

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

 

ERIC SATTERBERG

Eric Satterberg has appeared on over a dozen TV shows including HBO’s Silicon Valley, Showtimes’ Shameless, and NBC’s This is US to highlight a few. Eric is also one of the busiest commercial actors in L. A., having booked a dozen commercials a year since 2013 for a variety of major brands including McDonald’s, Turbo Tax, AT&T, and has a number already booked this year. You can see him next on Hulu’s Orville, Paramounts Yellowstone, and Warner Bros. Feature The Little Things opposite Rami Malek and Denzel Washington. 

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Working on the Halo Top ice cream commercial campaign. I remain very proud of how they came out. 

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
“Do it again but ‘good’ this time.” – Every Director I’ve worked with. 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Very young. I remember when I saw Cirque du Soleil as a kid. The costumes, the dancing, and the music completely seduced me. Even though I would never pursue that style of performance,  I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of right away.

What’s the phone app you use most?
YouTube 

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
American Dad. 

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
American Dad with over priced ice cream. Peanut butter is involved. 

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
A booking. 

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate peanut butter crack from Gingers. 

Current obsession?
Disinfectant. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Loud noises. Loud noises from Motor cycles.

What is your dream role/job?
Working w Paul Thomas Anderson.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
TGIF. 

What career advice would you give your younger self?
My life got infinitely better when I became sober in 2015. 

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
At the end.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Getting a golden retriever. 

What makes you feel at peace?
Listening to the “Crono Trigger” soundtrack as I drift asleep.  

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Cough in public.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Telepathy 

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Pizza.

THE HEALTHY CREW
Authored by Vanessa Martinez, Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

We couldn’t let this healthy new year edition of our newsletter go by without offering some tips and tricks to some of the hardest working people in any theatre – the crew! Often some of the first to arrive at the theatre and the last to leave, these are the people who do whatever it takes to make a performance spectacular from behind the scenes.

However, this “whatever it takes” mentality can take its toll. Late nights, long days, hurried work, last minute catastrophes, the list goes on and on. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s so important for the people working behind the scenes in the theatre to put as much focus on their health as the ones standing in the footlights. 

When bodies are young and healthy, we often feel invincible, like we can accomplish anything, anytime. And that may be true… But creating healthy habits early on will help to ensure longevity in your career and a healthy body for the rest of your life.

As an Entertainment Safety Manager, I had the opportunity to create health and wellness programs for all Entertainment departments, and had visibility to any injuries that occurred. Based on that experience, this is a short list of things all crew can/should do to prevent injury:

  1. Condition! Using the cross training that’s recommended in the article above is just as important for the crew as it is for any performer.
  2. Hydrate!  Water is so vital to a healthy body. And remember that caffeine is a diuretic and can quickly dehydrate you. While I would never advise against giving up caffeine altogether (imagine the revolt!), but it is possible to overdue it. We once had a paramedic run for stage manager having heart palpitations from too much caffeine. Drink one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage you consume. And not every donut that gets brought into the theatre needs to be eaten. #justsaying
  3. Use good body mechanics! The way you move can go a long way to protect yourself!
  • Keep your elbows close. The closer your elbows are to your mid-section, the more strength you have. 
  • Point your toes in the direction of movement. This will help to avoid twisting your low back, which greatly decreases your risk of back injury. 
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position. Even when working with tools and in awkward spaces, make every effort to keep your wrists from flexing or extending as much as possible. 
  1. Have a plan! Pre-work planning can do wonders for injury prevention. Knowing what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it is the first step to making sure you have the necessary time and resources to complete the work safely.
  2. Use the right tool for the task. I once found a member of my crew trying to remove a splinter with a Gerber multi-tool… When there was a splinter removal kit in our first aid kit! Take the time to ensure you have the right equipment for the work you’re doing. Shortcuts frequently cost more than they save.
  3. Take regular breaks! Repetitive motion is one of the leading causes of injury. It can be easy to get caught up in the work, but your body needs a break from any prolonged task. Varying your task (with something that moves your body in a different way) for at least 10 minutes every hour is a good rule of thumb.
  4. Don’t work through pain! No matter how crucial or time sensitive a task may seem, it’s not worth jeopardizing your safety! 

Always remember, your health and safety should be your number one priority. After all, you don’t want the show to go on without you!

 

VANESSA MARTINEZ
Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

Vanessa Martinez is a Senior Stage Manager at the Disneyland Resort. She previously worked as an Entertainment Safety Manager and also does safety consulting. She is thrilled to be supporting Projects with Jason in her role as Marketing Manager, and looks forward to continued collaboration with current and prospective PwJ members!

 



 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Projects with Jason Member Donors:
PATRONS
Julia Cuppy
Gloria McIntyre
CONTRIBUTORS
Jaime Brown
Lauren Carroll and Chris Herman
Nick Robinson
El Dorado High School, Placentia, CA, Educator Kathleen Switzer
PRODUCERS
Donny 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 Pascale
SUSTAINERS
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
Sam Barlow 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, 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
Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, St. Louis, MO, Director of Education & Outreach Dominic Dowdy-Windsor

 

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Founder and Artistic Director J. Jason Daunter welcomes you all to the December Newsletter and wishes you all a happy and warm holiday season.
 

 
 

PERFORMERS

Auditioning, Part 3: College Edition, cont.
Selecting Your MaterialBy Christine Riley,
Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence
 

Welcome back! We are going to continue down the path of college auditions today, but as with last week, most of this information will apply to all auditions!

Choosing the “right” song can often be a daunting task. How do you find something that shows everything that you are in 16 bars? Realistically, you don’t! To be honest, the audition is about you and who you are as a human and a performer. It is not about the song. You are an individual, which makes any song you choose special and unique because you are choosing to do it your way. You don’t have to find the most obscure song to stand out or be different. Instead, think about how you connect with the song and be clear about the story that YOU are going to tell.

For college auditions, I recommend having five songs prepared and ready to go- two Traditional Musical Theatre, two Contemporary Musical Theatre, and one wildcard (typically something in the pop/rock realm but maybe jazz or another style that fits you). These five songs should cover everything you are being asked for at the different schools. Having multiple songs also gives you the opportunity to sing different material at different auditions because you may be feeling more connected with a song on any given day. I often ask students what other songs they have in their book so that I can choose something that helps me learn the most about them. The songs should contrast each other in style, tempo and character. Ideally, your traditional ballad should have a more legit sound- this doesn’t mean it has to be high – but ideally it shows a round, supported tone without any belting. Your contemporary selections should use a more contemporary vocal style appropriate to the piece (of course there are some legit contemporary songs too).

Tips for choosing appropriate material:

  1. Search for characters that are close to your age range.
  2. Make sure the song sits well in your voice. Remember – you do NOT have to show your highest or lowest note – the song should sit comfortably in your vocal range.
  3. Look for stories that YOU connect with. It is important to remember that your musical theatre audition is not about showing off your voice – it is about acting and storytelling (supported by solid vocal technique)!
  4. Figure out if the song will make a good cut. If it is a long story song, it may be hard tell a story in 16-32 bars. If you aren’t sure, ask someone!
  5. When looking into pop/rock music, try to find songs that work well with piano accompaniment. Some songs lose the feel and/or drive of the song without the guitar or drums and other songs are really strong with piano.
  6. Do some research! There is a LOT of material out there. Sometimes it takes a while to find songs that work well for you. A few places to start:
    • The Singers Musical Theatre Anthologies are still a great resource – especially for Traditional Musical Theatre. When using them, also look at the show descriptions. There may be shows you aren’t familiar with that have additional songs not found in the anthology that could be great choices for you.
    • Find a few performers that you connect with and that have a career path that you can see yourself following. Find out what roles they have done and search for performances on youtube. Many Broadway performers do cabaret nights or presentations of new work, which are often filmed and put on the internet. This is a great way to find material.
    • There are two great websites that have huge databases of contemporary musical theatre writers and their work. Check both of them out: www.newmusicaltheatre.com and www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com
    • For pop/rock music, www.musicnotes.com is a great resource. They also have audition cuts available for many songs! Many of the audition cuts have a new accompaniment written specifically for a pianist to play (not a guitarist).

Remember that auditions are like job interviews. We want to know who you are! When choosing material, it is important to think about how you want to introduce yourself. I say this because I have seen students choose material because it may be shocking or surprising. Typically these pieces hide the performer because it becomes more about the song and the desired effect instead of the actor and what they have to share. I would much rather see something straight-forward and honest where there is a clear objective to fight for.
 
So – HOMEWORK!
Do your research! Even if it isn’t college audition season for you, start working on finding songs to put into your audition book. This way, you will be prepared when you have any audition coming up. Read librettos, listen to cast albums, troll youtube and all of the sheet music sites that I listed, ask friends and teachers and then narrow down your choices. You may start with ten pieces to end up with five. Sometimes you need to sing the songs and do your paperwork (we will get to that next month) to finally determine what material makes it into your audition book and what is set aside for another time. Next month we will talk about how to practice and prepare the songs for your auditions. Make sure you have your options set and are ready to dive into work!

 

[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.

 

NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

Dublin Scioto High School Veterans Theatre Project
By Patricia Santanello,
Projects with Jason Sustainer Member Educator

Last year our AP Studies teacher approached me with an idea for an immersive, historical lobby experience to accompany our production of Calling Amelia: A Musical in the Sky, a musical about Amelia Earhart. It was successful beyond our wildest dreams and over 1,000 elementary school children took part in the experience and watched our show. Every fall, our school’s social studies department does a veterans project where sophomore social studies students interview veterans and create tri-fold displays about that veteran. Then on Veteran’s Day we invite veterans to our school to honor them and all of the projects are presented. Last summer, during California Thespians’ Theatre Teacher Bootcamp, we were talking about creating original pieces of theatre for this school year. I got the idea to collaborate with AP Studies once again to create a piece of Verbatim Theatre using the veterans interviews that students were already doing and pairing up my Advanced Acting Ensemble students with sophomores to access the veterans interviews. It also seemed like a project that would lend itself to our virtual world of teaching and performing.One of my students was chosen to perform in the staged online reading of Carey Crim’s Distance Learning. I was fortunate to speak with Jason about our veterans project and he suggested that we might want to work with a playwright. We were paired up with Carey to help us write our show, and it has been an amazing experience. Carey took 116 pages of interview transcripts and turned them into a play, now titled With Honor. We are currently in our first read-through of the script and tweaking it here and there. Each of the students in my class added their personal thank yous to the script and I was able to research and add some historical background and transition material throughout the script. Students also selected what they felt were the most compelling stories in the 116 page transcript. With Honor is something that we are very, very proud of. Carey is an amazing and gifted playwright. Working with her has been  a transformative experience and something that we sorely needed in the midst of the craziness that we are living in. 

 

 

For information about producing Carey Crim’s
DISTANCE LEARNING, please contact:
 info@projectswithjason.com

 

Artists in Conversation: Savion Glover
An Educator’s Perspective
By Amanda Pascale, Lehigh Valley Acadamy Regional Charter School
Projects with Jason Member School
In the short time we have been involved, Projects with Jason has provided my students and I with meaningful connections and experiences. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this collaboration between professional artists, student artists, and educators. My student dancer, Zoe Miller, participated in the Artists in Conversation event with Savion Glover. The lesson she was given was unique and insightful. It was inspiring to witness Mr. Glover challenge the students to own their perspectives through theoretical application. It was a learning experience for me as well! These events are essential for educators looking to provide their students with authentic, real life, experiences in the arts. I can’t wait for the next one!

 

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 that’s right for you, please visit www.projectswithjason.com.

 

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

Whitney Claire Kaufman
 
[Image Description: Photo of Whitney Kaufman. She is laying on her right side, with her right elbow propping her up. She is wearing a dress with champagne colored sequins arranged in varying striped patterns. He blonde hair is hanging down her back, and she is wearing bright red lipstick. She is looking off to the left, and facing the camera. End image description.]Whitney has spent the last 15 years as a professional singer in musical theater, voice over, recording, and symphony performance. After studying theater at Chapman University, she toured with the Broadway national tour of Mamma Mia! for 2.5 years. After that, she joined the cast of Disney in Concert, traveling the world singing the music of Walt Disney with symphony orchestras.
 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Always! I wanted to be in the circus first, but once I was in junior high, it was pretty clear that I had to be onstage.

What is your dream role/job?
One that I create and originate in a new production.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Performing a special sensory-friendly concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony, accessible to people who are neuro-diverse, have disabilities, and their families.

What career advice would you give your younger self?
The work will always come. Do not fear the in-between.

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
I have! I make my living as a performing artist!

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
Morning coffee in bed with my kitty, Cat Steven. I put on music, open the windows for fresh air, and slowly ease into my day.

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
A random text from a friend saying they’re thinking of me.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Babysitting three boys ages 5-9 all by myself. Chaos.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
A lack of self-awareness.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about much…all things in moderation. Including moderation.

What’s the phone app you use most?
Instagram

Current obsession?
Tie-dye from my friend Megan’s company Here:Now Apparel. So cute and comfy!

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Told someone the hard truth. Always worth it, though.

What makes you feel at peace?
The ocean.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Teleportation….or mind control.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Seeing the Northern Lights with my own eyes.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Mint chip

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Sourdough toast with butter. Always carbs. Always.

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

“Performing isn’t for yourself. You give your gift to God (or the divine spirit that exists in whatever form you choose), he/she/it gives it to the audience, and they give it back to you. It’s an energy exchange.”

 

DIY STOCKING TUTORIAL

How to Make Your Own Stocking
By Jamie Brown,
Projects with Jason Contributor Member

Hello Projects With Jason family! Jamie Brown here to bring you a simple, fun, Holiday Stocking tutorial.

Using our pattern as your roadmap, I encourage you to design your own stocking inspired by a character from one of your favorite Broadway shows.

Materials:

  • Projects With Jason Stocking pattern (see below on how to assemble the pattern)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for the stocking body (non-stretchy, stiffer fabrics work best)
  • 1/4 yard of fabric for the stocking cuff (non-stretchy fabrics work best)
  • 9″ of ribbon or trim for the stocking hang loop (can be any width between 1″-3″)
Tools:
  • scissors
  • tape
  • thread
  • pins
  • sewing machine OR hand sewing needle
Assembling the pattern:
Print all 4 images (found below) of Stocking pattern pieces (Be sure to print “actual size” onto a standard letter size paper [8.5″x11″]. Do not scale or crop). Cut out all 4 pattern pieces and tape together following the directions on the pattern pieces.

Step 1:
Use the stocking pattern as your template and cut out two pieces of fabric; one for the front of the stocking and one for the back of the stocking. Be sure to turn the pattern piece upside down when you cut out the back piece so you have a mirror image. To get the Dear Evan Hansen shirt and pants look, I first sewed the 2 fabrics together and then cut out the pattern pieces. 
Step 2: 
Cut out one rectangle of your cuff fabric that is 9″ tall and 18″ wide. Cut one piece of your hang loop ribbon that is 9″ long. 
Step 3: 
Put the front stocking piece and back stocking pieces together with the good sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin these pieces together along all edges except the top opening. 
Step 4: 
Sew the stocking together all the way around using a 1/2″ seam allowance (that means your needle should be 1/2″ away from the edge of the fabric). Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and at the end. (Backstitching is done by sewing backward and forward a few stitches.)
Step 5:
Very carefully, use the tip of your scissors to clip all the curved edges of the stocking. Make tiny clips and don’t clip through the seam that you just sewed. (This will help smooth the curves of the stocking and alleviate bunching.)
Step 6:
Turn your stocking right side out through the top opening. Use your finger to push out all the curves on the inside of the stocking so the outside is nice and smooth.
Step 7:
Put aside the stocking for a moment while we create the cuff. Fold the long rectangle cuff piece in half so the short sides are together. The good sides of the fabric should be facing each other. Pin those edges together (it should be 9″ long). 
Step 8:
Sew the edge you just pinned together using 1/2″ seam allowance. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end of the seam. 
Step 9:
Turn the cuff right side out so the seam is now hidden on the inside of the fabric.

Step 10: 
Fold the cuff in half  with the wrong sides of the fabric and the seam you just sewed facing each other. Both of the raw edges should meet at the top. 

Step 11:
Put the cuff aside for a moment and pick up your hang loop ribbon and your stocking. Fold the hang loop ribbon in half (short edges together). Pin the loop on the inside of the stocking over the side seam with the loop going down into the stocking. 
Step 12:
Sew the hang loop to the stocking along the edge you pinned. 
Step 13:
Take your cuff piece and place it inside the stocking with the raw edges of the cuff lining up with the raw edges of the top of the stocking. The seam of the cuff should line up with the hang loop ribbon. Pin all the layers together.  (your loop ribbon should now be sandwiched between the cuff and the stocking). 
Step 14:
Sew around the top of the stocking that you just pinned going through all the layers, including the hang loop ribbon. 

Step 15:
Pull the cuff out of the stocking and fold it down around the stocking. Your hang loop should now be sticking out of the top of the stocking. And your stocking is now complete!

Step 16 (optional):
Decorate to your heart’s desire! Using a glue gun or a needle and thread, add beads, buttons, sequins, rhinestones and trims. Add a name or a show quote. Create a name tag to hang from the loop….the possibilities are endless so have fun with it! 
 

STOCKING PATTERN PIECES

 

Create your own Stocking and share it with us by posting to your social media using the following tags:

#ProjectsWithJason
#PWJcrafts

 

Here are a few great examples of Stockings, using this same pattern:

 

Anne Boleyn from Six
by Kendall Swendsen
Instagram: @kendallaswendsen

 

Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family
by Lauren HaskinsInstagram: 
@costumes.portfolio

Dolly from Hello Dolly
by Haven Hanson

Instagram: 
@sewinghaven

 

Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked
by Jamie Brown
Instagram:
@jamiemariebrown

 

ABOUT JAMIE BROWN
DownTown Jamie Brown is an Entertainment Costumer based in Los Angeles, California. She is a proud member of IATSE local 768, working freelance on projects for theatre, television, film, music, and digital media. She is an advocate for educational theatre, volunteering as the Technical Coordinator for the California State Thespians and is a professional member of the Educational Theatre Association. In March of 2018, Jamie was inducted into the California State Thespian Hall of Fame. Past projects include: Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, America’s Got Talent, Westworld, American Music Awards, The Most Popular Girls in School, and various concerts such as Beyoncé, P!nk, Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, and Taylor Swift. Since March, Jamie has been making cloth face masks that she sells through her Etsy shop. $1 from each mask sold is donated to The Actors Fund Covid-19 Emergency Relief, which is providing financial aid and resources for entertainment professionals.

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

North Kansas City High School,
Projects with Jason Member, Educator Randy Jackson
 
North Kansas City High School is 95 years old. Since then, the Thespian Troupe 2191 and Northtown Theatre Association (our drama club) have been attending trips to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando along with participating in Missouri State Thespian Conference and International Thespian Festival. We are proud to have had State officers as well as taking shows to both state and international festivals. We currently have several students performing and working in the theatre world around the united states both on the stage and behind the scenes. Randy Jackson has been in charge of the program since 1997, and has provided all responses below.
 

What makes your theatre program unique?
Our high school is the most diverse high school in the state of Missouri. We have always casted non traditionally in all of our shows. We also have a high free and reduced lunch and little opportunity to take lessons to enhance their singing, acting and dancing skills. All the skills they use in performance are taught through our program.

What about your theatre program makes you most proud?
We are a program that emphasizes on production by the students. We let the students design and build all aspects of the technical elements. We also cast according to ability as opposed to race or stereotype.

What was the last production you did before the shutdown?
Student Directed One Act Series – we call The MOBS (Mini OffBroadway Shows)

How has your program adapted to the quarantine?
Practice the guidelines set by our county, wear masks, keep safe distance. Spread out in rehearsal and stream the performances – no in person audience.

If you could share one thing with theatre educators about teaching virtually, what would it be?
Be flexible, embrace technology and see it as a way to be creative.

What are the biggest challenges your program has faced with the quarantine?
Keeping the kids involved in theatre with smaller projects – Which is why we joined Projects with Jason

If you could share one thing with students learning theatre virtually, what would it be?
Learn time management and make sure to build in break times to breathe.

What are you most looking forward to when you are able to have all your students back in the classroom?
Conducting workshops – and I miss the noise and energy of a full class.

What is the first production you will do when you are able to put on a live performance again?
The Wiz

Any words of wisdom to share with Projects with Jason members?
Take advantage of the opportunities that the theatre community is offering through their websites, both free and member fee sites. It allows your students to work and be inspired by industry professionals – share the opportunities so other programs can follow your lead.

 

 

A short look of the work North Kansas City High School theatre program has done in the past.
 

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

 

PwJ TEAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Photo of: Matt Conover

Leadership
By Matt Conover
Projects with Jason Staff Member
 
The world is different.  Lots has changed. And with this the need for dynamic, thoughtful, creative people is higher than ever. And where will we find people like this? Theatre people. The qualities and the creativity of theatre people is what the world needs to move us ahead.
 
So many of the people who participate in theatre, in school or otherwise, in their youth do not go on to careers on the stage or behind the scenes. Instead they take the experiences and the talents developed in the collaborative, dynamic and diverse world of creating theatre to a wide variety of careers- from healthcare, to finance, to education, and well beyond.
 
Whether you are currently a student of theatre, a theatre educator, or a professional, you have the power. The power to create change. And you have the tools with which to make it happen in an empathetic, inclusive and purposeful manner. Think about all of the things that you have learned in the theatre — so many more than you can probably easily identify. Do not sell yourself short. 
 
You have done research — whether for a role or a period costume design or a type of lighting instrument to use. Research is key to so many facets of life where as a parent or a professional; theatre prepares you and allows you to innovate and explore.
 
You have told stories — every time you engage in theatre you become a storyteller building your creative skills each and every time — on stage, back stage, giant musical or one person show — telling stories is foundational to our society and nothing prepares you better to do this in life than theatre.
 
You have engaged in conflict management and relationship development. Whether in the collaboration of a design team, the management of a technical rehearsal or simply being in a scene on stage that just isn’t working. In every career or profession, these traits are vital to success — and even being a mom or a dad!
 
You have been tasked with solving problems and think critically in all sorts of ways — ways that will inform how you approach so many of life’s challenges.
 
You have become a collaborator — one who is often forced to build bridges from one idea to another, from one team member to another to solve common goals.
 
You have learned to be flexible, nimble, and adaptable to change. Whether that is to a cue going wrong in a show or to the show being moved to a Zoom version. These qualities are vital to your success in any arena in your future.
 
And all of the above allow you to develop as a leader. You may not “be in charge” or “be the boss,” but you do lead. As a member of any theatre company leadership comes from so many sources. 
 
Peer leadership, leading your fellow cast or crew members, your fellow teachers, your fellow citizens is key to your and our future. Change happens in our schools, in our businesses, and in our country because enough people lead each other — not as their boss, but through all of the skills of being in theatre — empathy, collaboration, adaptability, and so many more.
 
Yes, the world is changing — be part of that change.  Be a leader.
 
 

 

SUPPORT THEATRE MAKERS

Dear theatre lovers, artists, and friends,

Looking for a way to support the arts this holiday season? Consider doing your holiday shopping through one of these organizations that is giving a platform to artists working in side jobs during this challenging time. And you can always give the gift of Projects with Jason to the theatre lover in your life! Connect a student with professional artists in their field and give them learning opportunities they won’t find anywhere else!

Visit patreon.com/projectswithjason
or email us at membership@projectswithjason.com to get started!

Side Hustle Collaborative was hatched from two entertainment lighting professionals, Rachel and Eric. They started a bagel company and made an Etsy store for their pottery hobby to pass the time during lockdown. After selling 3000 bagels and making over 30 sales on Etsy, they were determined to figure out a way to help other out-of-work industry folks get their side hustles noticed. Side Hustle Collaborative is a site dedicated to entertainment industry professionals who have either formed a side business as a result of COVID-19, or an existing hustle that they’re dedicating more time to. Help support these incredibly creative individuals as we all work to rebuild our industry.

BackstageBazaar.com is a virtual marketplace that provides a centralized showcase for the art created by the theatre community while their industry is on hold. Erin and Truly created Backstage Bazaar to provide a searchable web directory that links the online shops of theatre professionals from the global theatre community. The site makes it easy for buyers to do their gift shopping with only a few clicks and offers the certainty that their purchases are genuinely helping artists through a difficult time. Erin Slattery Black and Truly Carmichael met at UT-Austin while completing their MFAs in Costume Design/Technology and have both worked extensively in the costume industry for over 20 years. Their work has been seen on stage and screen from Broadway to the Alley Theatre and has been worn by celebrities ranging from Catherine O’Hara to Big Bird. 

 

 

PROJECTS WITH JASON MEMBERS

PATRONS
Julia Cuppy
Gloria McIntyreCONTRIBUTORS
Jamie Brown
Lauren Carroll & Chris Herman
John & Jane Conover
Nick Robinson
Kathleen SwitzerPRODUCERS
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 Pascale

SUSTAINERS
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
Sam Barlow 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
Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, Chesterfield, MO, Educator Dominic Dowdy-Windsor

 

HOW TO SUPPORT US

CLICK HERE to e-mail for Special pricing
 

[Image Description: logo for the web browser based live streaming platform, StreamYard. Image says, "StreamYard, Official Sponsor of Projects with Jason." End of image description]

Use Projects with Jason’s code to get a 14-day free trial of StreamYard, no credit card required!

CLICK HERE for the StreamYard code
 

 

 
 

Copyright © 2020 Projects with Jason, All rights reserved


 

 

 

 


 
 
[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

 

HOW TO SUPPORT US

[Image Description: advertisement for Projects with Jason's Patreon page. Patron level at $5 per month, Contributor level at $10 per month, Produce level at $20 per month, and sustainer level at $40 per month. Each level gets you more benefits. If you have questions, the ad directs you to email the following: education@projectswithjason.com. If you want more details on becoming a Patreon supporter of Projects with Jason, the ad directs you to visit the following website: patreon.com/projectswithjason. End image description.]
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[Image description: The Projects with Jason logo with a hand-drawn pumpkin around it. The website adress: www.projectswithjason.com. Following that is, "October 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 October Newsletter and shares his thoughts on theatrical superstitions.
 

 
 

EDUCATORS

Behind the Mask
By Kimberly B. Staples,
Projects with Jason Sustainer Member
 

“Behind the mask there is a face, and behind that a story.” Marty Rubin

Theatre people have used masks for literally thousands of years. Masks are an important part of many world cultures. They continue to be a part of stylized, sophisticated theatrical traditions. And now they are part of our culture in a very different way.

Face-to-face teaching in 2020 is a surreal experience, my friends. Learning the names of new students has become an exercise of learning who has what color eyes, not who has dimples, or a widespread grin, remembering who wears what color masks. And while the masks of Greek theatre were able to convey emotion to the audience, today’s masks offer no such communication.

It has become increasingly difficult in the face-to-face classroom to tell if what is being taught is actually being understood. Today’s masks cover so much of the face. I find that I am mostly able to read the body language of students I’ve taught before. I know them; I know how they move; I know their idiosyncratic habits: the pulling of hoodie sleeves when a student is uncertain, the lift of the chin when a student knows the answer without a doubt.

I find myself engaging with students more in the hallway where idle chit-chat helps me get to know the new students, or reassuring the returning student who isn’t comfortable with this bizarre situation. You see, in the classroom, we don’t get physically close enough for chit-chat, or at least conversation that feels real. There seems to be a reluctance for students wearing masks to speak much at all. I thought at first that it must be the newness of being back in school after the longest, strangest break in history. Well, folks, it’s week seven for us, and it’s awfully quiet. I thought they would warm up. It’s going to be a long Fall at this rate.

So how to combat this wild circumstance? I find myself using students’ names more frequently, asking questions more often, and asking for students to respond with even a thumb’s up. I think it’s vital to keep connecting, no matter how tenuously those connections start. Even though I can’t see those faces, I know they are there, waiting to be revealed in some space other than our theatre. And I know for sure that there is a story. And that’s worth everything.

 

[Image Description: Photo of Kimberly Staples. She is smiling wide with her teeth showing, standing outside in the sunlight. She is wearing a blue patterned shirt and a blue necklace. She has bright red lipstick on, with black hair and dark eyes. End image description]
ABOUT KIMBERLY B. STAPLES
Kimberly B. Staples, in her 38th year as an educator, is the theatre director at Buford High School in Buford, GA. She has her Master’s in Directing from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She serves on the GA Thespians Chapter Board and is a member of the GA Thespians Hall of Fame. Never happier than when surrounded by fabric and PAR cans, she is always eager to embark on a new project!

 

PERFORMERS

 

Christine Riley introduces the Projects with Jason exclusive AUDITIONING series.

Auditioning: First Steps
By Christine Riley,
Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence
 
Hello everyone! I am Christine Riley, a music director and vocal coach in NYC, and an Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Marymount Manhattan College. I am thrilled to once again be collaborating with Projects with Jason, and look forward to sharing and working with all of you over the next year (and beyond)!
 
Over the course of the next few months, I will take you through a number of important aspects of all types of auditions, as well as choosing song material (whether it is for class or an audition setting). Please remember that these are my thoughts and advice that come from my perspective.
 
Auditions are subjective so it is important to remember that the best audition you can have is one where you feel good about your work, regardless of the outcome. This starts with preparation! YOU have control over your preparation, so do your homework and practice. The better prepared you are, the more successful your audition will be (see above: successful = you feel good about your work).
 
Audition preparation always starts by reading the audition breakdown carefully. What is the audition for (college, or agent, or school show, or professional show)? Where is the audition (your town, city far away, or digital)? What material are they asking for (song style and length, monologue)? If the audition is in person, will there be a pianist or are you required to bring a track? Are there safety protocols in place? If the audition is digital, do they want a self-tape or a “live” digital audition over Zoom? These may seem like obvious questions, but I have seen more than one person struggle through an audition because they did not fully read the breakdown and PREPARE.
 
Once you have the answers to the questions above, more questions should arise, such as:
WHO:
  • College- Is there a prescreen? When is the application due? When do I sign-up for an audition date?
  • Agent- How many people am I auditioning for? Will there be an interview? Do I need to bring my entire audition book?
  • School Show- What role am I most interested in? Is there a dance call? Are there sides to prepare ahead of time? When are callbacks?
  • Professional Show- All of the questions for a school show as well as: Will this conflict with school? Do I have parental permission?
WHERE:
  • Do I need to make travel preparations?
  • Who will go with me?
  • If digital, do I have the equipment I need to make a high quality audition video?
WHAT: 
  • How do I choose the appropriate material?
  • How do I cut the material?
  • How do I prepare the material?
HOW:
  • How do I prepare to work with a pianist I don’t know?
  • How do I get a track made?
  • How do I set up zoom or create a video for a successful audition?
MOST IMPORTANTLY:
  • How do I practice so that I feel prepared to go in and have an amazing audition experience?

We will walk through these questions and discuss different ways to prepare to give you confidence to walk into any audition. Inevitably, you will encounter situations that are out of your control, but if you have prepared for the aspects of the audition that ARE in your control, you will be able to navigate the unexpected with professionalism and trust in your abilities.

So – your homework (yes homework – this is a tough business and you ALWAYS have homework): Research at least three auditions that you have coming up and answer all of the questions that I mentioned in this article the best you can.  If you don’t have any auditions coming up, take a look at Backstage.com  or Playbill.com and find auditions that you could hypothetically attend. You do not have to actually go to the auditions, but preparing for them is a huge part of the work! Once you have specific auditions in mind, and have answered the questions above, we will delve deeper into each area and discuss how to best approach every audition you encounter. Happy Homework!!!

 

[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.

 

SEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

EdTA’s Virtual Annual Conference
By: Lily Buehler,
Projects with Jason Marketing & Social Media Assistant
 
The Projects with Jason team was honored to be part of the Education Theatre Association’s virtual conference on September 12th. The conference invited Founder and Artistic Director J. Jason Daunter,  Executive Producer Matt Conover, Production Education Team Members Gai Jones, Jeff Hall, and Krista Carson Elhai, and Technical Supervisor Kyle D. Cole to share the history and the mission of PwJ. They also promoted the more recent virtual opportunities that PwJ has provided to theatre students across the country who have no alternative during this uncertain time. This included welcoming some guest educators to tell their own stories about how participating in PwJ events has impacted their students and programs in this pivotal time for theatre education. The conference highlighted PwJ’s educational and interactive resources such as the free content, which is always available on the Projects with Jason website (www.projectswithjason.com) and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/projectswithjason), and additional tools offering educational opportunities beyond viewing videos. The conference welcomed PwJ Artists-in-Residence Jeff Daniels and Carey Crim. Daniels told his story of finding theatre, which resonated with viewers who responded live in the comments. Crim shared her story behind the creation of her script for the then-upcoming virtual reading of her play Distance Learning.

Distance Learning, A Short Play
By: Lily Buehler,
Projects with Jason Marketing & Social Media Assistant
 
September 26th saw a Saturday evening at the theatre… over Zoom of course. Projects with Jason hosted a virtual reading of Carey Crim’s new short play, Distance Learning. For this script, the Brady Bunch boxes setup is not a hindrance, but rather vital to the plot. With screen conversations ranging from classes over Zoom to one-on-one FaceTime calls, the script follows the story of a high school English class struggling with the obstacles of a life suddenly gone virtual, back in March of 2020. The students deal with a number of issues bigger than themselves, namely the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the current political climate. In addition, the story highlights the personal struggles of the students, including relationships, home life, even college scholarships at stake. Educators from across the country were invited to view the reading, especially those interested in producing their own live performance of Distance Learning.
[Image Description: logo of the play, Distance Learning. End Description]
For more information about how to produce Distance Learning, please contact info@projectswithjason.com.

 

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

Lesley McKinnell,
Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence
By Vanessa Martinez, 
Projects with Jason Social Media Manager
 
[Image Description: Photo of Lesley McKinnell. She is facing left, tilting her head to the right to look at the camera. She is smiling, wearing a white v-neck shirt and pink blazer. She has dark brown hair and green eyes. End image description.]Lesley McKinnell is an actor/singer originally from the OC, California. She was featured in last month’s newsletter, performing a mash-up of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and Happy Days Are Here Again, accompanied by PwJ Musical Supervisor Jason Yarcho. She’s performed in shows at Carnegie Hall with her children’s chorus, the national tours of Wicked and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, in Guam with the USO Show Troupe, and at other such exotic places as Maine (Young Frankenstein– Elizabeth, Ogunquit and Gateway Playhouses), and North Carolina (Guys & Dolls – Adelaide, FlatRock Playhouse), to name a few. Before whatever-we-want-to-call-it happened to us all this year, Lesley was performing regularly as Elsa in Frozen: Live at the Hyperion, as well as in parody musicals at LA’s now closed Rockwell Table & Stage.
 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Honestly, I don’t think I really knew until I was claiming myself a musical theatre major at Cal State Fullerton (lol).

What is your dream role/job?
My dream role was Fanny in Funny Girl. And my dream job right now would be anything (lol).

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Performing as Glinda on tour in my home town with 200 people I knew in the audience. Oh, and finally not caring what people in my home town thought of me if I moved back to my home town.

What career advice would you give your younger self?
Nothing will go the way you envision/want/foresee/wish/dream. And that is just fine.

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
When you let go of thinking that “making it” is even important at all.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
Taking time to spend with God. I neglect and avoid it a lot (ha), but when I finally settle in to do so, I know there is a plan in place and that gives me all the self-care I could need.

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
A very specific, certain kind of song that speaks to me in the moment- preferably whilst driving when I can sing my guts out in private (hehe).

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve been very lucky and have no reasonable reason to complain, but… babysitting in NY (hahaha).

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Do we have time to name them all?

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
THIS IS GETTING SO PERSONAL NOW. Late night cheese. (Oh and late night wine? Lol.)

What’s the phone app you use most?
Youtube (lol).

Current obsession?
Currently Beethoven’s 7th Symphony Mov 2 and Aaron Copeland’s Rodeo. And Coldplay’s Everyday Life. Just songs, I guess (haha).

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
So many things, oh my gosh, I can’t think of anything at the moment, of course (ha). But, I’d say moving to New York was pretty scary.

What makes you feel at peace?
CLEANING.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Cleaning the world (lol).

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Going to Paris.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate. Malted. Crunch. And anything Ben & Jerry’s

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
LATE NIGHT CHEESE DID WE NOT DISCUSS THIS (lol).

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
A lot of people have said so many inspiring things to me. It’s difficult to choose. One that sticks out through the years is when seeing Chaz Palmenteri in A Bronx Tale  when I first joined the national tour of Wicked. He told us what his father used to tell him,

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”
 
Chaz had the quote on his business cards- of which I still have one. Don’t waste your talent. Use it. For good, preferably.

 

RESOURCES

With a Little Bit of Help From My Friends…
By Krista Carson Elhai,
Projects with Jason Production Education Team
 
I could not imagine my life as a theatre educator without my theatre friends. Every good idea I’ve ever had, or lesson I’ve taught, has been shared, inspired, or influenced by someone in my life. As a result, I find myself a hoarder of lessons, units, and theatrical resources. I’m sure there will be a reality show on this subject soon (have you seen what gets a reality show these days?), but in the meantime here are a few of my new favorites:

All Things Shakespeare:

Arts & Cultures Resources:

  • All Arts– including streaming, podcasts, interviews in Art, Dance, Film, Theatre.

Classes, Lectures, Webinars in the Arts:

Classroom Resources:

General Theatre Resources:

Musical Theatre links & books:

Socio Emotional Learning:

Technical Theatre Resources:

Virtual Theatre resources:
  • Theaterish– Dozens & dozens of resources for Virtual Theatre. Classroom ideas by grade/focus area.

 

SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

 

Nina West’s music video for her hit song, “Lisa Frankenstein.”
Nina West is a Projects with Jason Artist-in-Residence.
 

[Image Description: Photo of Lesley McKinnell. She is facing left, tilting her head to the right to look at the camera. She is smiling, wearing a white v-neck shirt and pink blazer. She has dark brown hair and green eyes. End image description.]
“Nina West, the drag persona of Andrew Levitt, has grown into a legendary figure, creating a platform to lift up and support LGBTQ organizations. He’s done thousands of shows, participates in hundreds of appearances each year, and has given generously in time, talent, and treasure to the community. The charity performance he does at the end of each big show averages about $1,500—an incredible testament to his passion, and the generosity of his audience.”

 

PwJ TEAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

[Image Description: photo of Projects with Jason Team Member/Host of Technical Supervisor Kyle D. Cole, author of the article entitled, "Finding My Light." Kyle is posed in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland. He is smiling with his teeth showing. He has brown hair and hazel eyes. His hair is spiked up. He is wearing a blue button-down shirt with his Disneyland name tag above the left breast pocket. End image description.]
Photo of: Kyle D. Cole

Art Finds A Way
By Kyle D. Cole
Projects with Jason Technical Supervisor
 

My very first interaction with the stage was in 4th grade. One of my favorite elementary school teachers also ran the elementary drama program at my school. That teacher thought I was a shoe-in for performance, most likely because of my constant screwing around and broad imagination. I hadn’t tried performing until 7th grade because my family didn’t have a lot of money or time. I had to pick an elective that year, and, remembering that interaction with my 4th grade teacher, I decided that Drama 1 was my destiny. As it would turn out, despite my personality and imagination, I was like Jimmy Fallon on SNL- I couldn’t keep a straight face when something funny was in the script, and I would biff my lines constantly. I was positively terrible as a performer, so for final credit that semester I decided to be a stagehand for the Fall play. I was hooked. It was electric being involved in the backside of a production. The chance to place props in a blackout, mic up performers, set up the decking and set, the late nights and long days… everything about it was imperfectly perfect.

That same Fall, I noticed a worship leader at my church youth group sitting on a stool playing his guitar. He was singing and trying (poorly) to balance out his sound at the audio console sitting next to him. Apparently, my 12-year-old brain thought this was a crime. I offered to help move the knobs and faders around so he could keep playing and singing without having to stop to reach over and make adjustments. From there, I became fascinated with achieving a good sound balance- experimenting with reverb and different EQ’s. I started finding ways to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. I’d setup the entire audio system just to play with it- to think something up and make something happen. I hoarded all the manuals for the gear (no internet at the time, remember) to read them again and again. The youth pastor took notice of all this effort and connected me with a local college professor so I could learn more. Throughout my 2 years of Jr. High, I ran sound every Sunday morning and every Wednesday night. I volunteered for every event that needed sound: concert band, pep rallies, the college ministry, literally anything.

During my freshman year of high school, I was hired (at age 15) to mix audio at a large church for their 2,000 in-person and 50,000 on-radio services. Again, I did sound for everything I could possibly find and continued on that way until the end of high school in 2003. While there, my drama department had little-to-no development of technical theatre and, frankly, my drama teacher seemed a lot more interested in participating with student drama than in developing anything other than what drew attention to her and the program. It always seemed that she found technical theatre to be boring and not flashy. She played into the tropes that theatre techs are some slightly more presentable version of The Phantom- they should be unseen and unheard from, destined to support the show with no acknowledgement, development, and little thanks. In spite of my drama teacher’s lack of support and investment, I was determined to learn everything I could. I vowed that if I ever “made it,” I’d spend time making sure this didn’t happen to future students at my high school.
 
While I was working at my church in my teen years, I spent nearly every Friday night at Disneyland with my friends. As a staple of Southern California living, I was able to go after school until closing almost every week- my friends and I had our routines, and things we’d always do while there. One of them was wandering through Tomorrowland Terrace, which often had a live band with a person mixing the sound. I must’ve talked to dozens of what would later become co-workers of mine. I constantly asked what department, what experience I needed to have, and when they were hiring. It was a dream to work at Disneyland and mix the live bands and shows. The Fall after my Senior year, I got an opportunity to apply. After what I thought was a shaky interview, I got hired on my 19th birthday in October of 2003.
 
I’ve worked at Disney ever since and (again) have done everything I possibly could. Not just sound either- lighting, moving scenery, carpentry (spoiler alert: I’m terrible at that). I’d mop stages, wear silly costumes to set props, drive a 1941 Mercury “Woody’s” with bands on the back, wade through Olympic swimming pools driving yellow submarines…literally everything and anything.
 
As I’m nearing the end of my 17th year at Disney, I reflect not only on the amazing opportunities I’ve had with the company, but also the connections it made for me in the industry that have allowed me to work with Blizzard Entertainment on the Overwatch League, build The Tonight Show soundstage (for the brief few months Conan O’Brien had it), do a few circuits of the international auto shows around the country, and to work with countless music acts, artists, Broadway stars, directors, and of course stage managers, costumers, dressers, lighting designers…the whole lot! These people have become close friends and family to me over the years and I do everything I can for and with them and they for me and my family.
 
Throughout my career at Disney, I’ve been blessed to be involved with the California Thespians in developing the next generations of theatre technicians, just as I hoped. There’s really nothing more energetic and electric than hundreds of theatre kids coming together to present art in motion on stage. I’ve been blessed to have been involved in the early parts of their careers. Several of the audio students have returned over the years and (still) volunteer to help other students on their journeys. It’s an amazing pay-off for over a decade of time volunteering with the California chapter of Thespians. That said, in 2015, a good friend of mine that I volunteer with at the California Festivals suggested that I connect with some guy named Jason, who volunteered at the International Thespian Festival to help students “guerilla theatre” an opening production to kick off the weekend. This is how I found myself in Lincoln, Nebraska on my 3rd ever Father’s Day. The energy of thousands of theatre kids and educators in the middle of America, singing the songs of Alan Menken to two audiences, working with students mixing sound, doing the lighting, and stage managing, was astonishing.
 
Ever since then, whenever my phone buzzes and it’s Jason, he usually sounds like an echo of Mickey Rooney with a cheery, but determined “let’s put on a show.” Jason has this knack of connecting the best-of-the-best professional artists with endearing and motivated talent in high schools and colleges. Projects with Jason was born out of this talent of his. The production is no less electric than the first time I encountered high schoolers belting emotional stories at my first ever CA Thespian Festival back in 2006. If anything, it’s more exciting because the stakes are higher than ever before.

The world is more torn than ever. People are tired and annoyed. They need an escape. There is no better time for our students (all of us, really) to raise our voices, sing our songs, tell our stories, call our cues, slide the faders, dress the performers, press Go and raise the curtain to reveal to those hurt and broken that it’s all going to be ok. The dreamers are still here, albeit from our homes, and we have a story for you…the story of how we always overcome, we always persist, we do prevail. Art wins every time; we just have to walk through the darkness, find our mark, take a breath, open our mouths, and put on a show.

 

PROJECTS WITH JASON MEMBERS

PATRONS
Julia CuppyCONTRIBUTORS
Jamie Brown
John & Jane Conover
Nick Robinson
Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School, Bethlehem, PA, Educator Amanda Pascale
PRODUCERS
Donnie Bryan
Debby Gibbs
Amanda Pascale

Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, CA, Educator Karen Chandler

SUSTAINERS
Kyle D & Kimberly Cole
J. Jason Daunter
Philip & Krista Elhai
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
Nicole Pedroche
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
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
Royal Oak Middle School, Covina, CA, Educator Nicole Pedroche

San Juan Hills High School, San Juan Capistrano, CA, Educator Cambria Graff

 

HOW TO SUPPORT US

CLICK HERE to e-mail for Back to School pricing
 

Become a monthly Patreon subscriber to help us provide unique opportunities for theatre educators, students, and programs! To find more details on how to support Projects with Jason with a monthly contribution, please click below.

CLICK HERE to visit our Patreon page
 

[Image Description: logo for the web browser based live streaming platform, StreamYard. Image says, "StreamYard, Official Sponsor of Projects with Jason." End of image description]

Use Projects with Jason’s code to get a 14-day free trial of StreamYard, no credit card required!

CLICK HERE for the StreamYard code
 

[Image Description: List of Projects with Jason team members and their titles. Team Members: J. Jason Daunter- Founder, Artistic Director. Lily Buehler- Marketing and Social Media Assistant, Kimberly Cole- Production Manager. Kyle D. Cole- Technical Supervisor. John Conover- Legal Consultant. Matt Conover- Executive Producer. Will Conover- Social Media Twitter. Krista Carson Elhai- Production Education Team. Dylan Elhai- Graphic Designer. Cambria Graff- Production Education Team. Jeff Hall- Production Education Team, Tech Table Producer. Gai Laing Jones- Production Education Team. Travis Kelley- Video & Digital Content Manager. Vanessa Martinez- Social Media Manager, Facebook, Instagram. KC Wilkerson- Tech Table Host. Jason Yarcho- Musical Supervisor, Composer, Arranger. Student Team Members: Caroline Conover- Digital Content Stage Manager. Louie Gallagher- Virtual Cabaret Host, Social Media- TikTok. Bellise Sacchetto- Virtual Cabaret, Artist in Conversation, and Tech Table Original Graphic Designer. Alumni: Greg Mauro, Nate Reid, Austin Sarti. At the bottom reads, "Until Next Time..." and the Projects with Jason logo with a hand-drawn pumpkin around it and website address of www.projectswithjason.com. End image description.]
 

 
 

Copyright © 2020 Projects with Jason, All rights reserved.


 

 

 

 


View this email in your browser

 
[Image description: The Projects with Jason logo and website above the words "September 2020 Newsletter, Welcome" on a background of brush strokes. Below is a photo of J. Jason Daunter, the Founder and Artistic Director of Projects with Jason. End image description.]
[Image description: A welcome letter. Contents of letter as follows, "WOW! It isn’t very often that I am at a loss for words, but the past seven months have been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. And the ride continues. It feels like a coaster ride inside, and in the dark. You have no idea where the next turn or dip is going to come from. Then, all of a sudden, you are slowly ascending once again, knowing that if it goes up, it must come down. One second you are screaming with joy, then fear, and then laughing nervously as the free fall drop is always inevitable. All the while knowing that eventually the ride will end… When will this ride end? On March 27, 2020 with a laptop, two friends, a committed and trusting educator, and several talented students from San Juan Hills High School in California, I took to the internet with a show called Virtual Cabaret. A show that celebrated the power of theatre education and brought forward talented students to tell their stories and celebrate the educators who help them make those stories. Lesley McKinnell, a professional actress and longtime friend, brought the house down with two performances and was even surprised by her high school theatre teacher and education legend, Gai Jones. People tuned in and we made the closest thing to a real-life connection that we could in the early days of this thing called “shelter in place”. That first show finished and, as I was celebrating with pizza, my phone was lighting up with text messages from dear friends and collaborators asking if they could get involved with the next show and how could they help. I remember thinking “Am I doing this? Is there a next show? Am I going to take this leap and head into the unknown?” Obviously, I jumped, taking over a dozen others with me, and the Projects with Jason Team as you see it today was born! Over 30 shows later here we are! I am so pleased to welcome you to the PwJ family! I cannot thank you enough for supporting the work we are doing here. We all believe in this mission and in giving back. As I have said a million times or more, and will continue to say, I would not physically still be here today were it not for high school theatre! Theatre Saves! We have lots in store for this monthly newsletter and great features that will hopefully bring you some joy, encouragement, a peek behind the curtain, and ways to feel connected to this art form we all cherish. So… no, the ride is not over yet. And we don’t know what’s coming! It could have three more hills, two more corkscrew turns, and possibly a water tsunami before it officially pulls back into the station. However, we are all on the same ride, with our lap bars down and at least one supportive friend sitting close by to tell us, “It will be ok”. So, take a breath, scream if you need to, but then let’s move on and focus on something we can control. Let’s focus on making needed change, making a difference, and showing that the power of the arts can, and will, change hearts, minds, and YES continue to save lives. Into the unknown indeed! Until Next Time, J. Jason Daunter Projects with Jason Founder/Artistic Director" end of letter. End image description.]

Find us on social media!

 
CLICK HERE to visit us at our website
 

GET INVOLVED WITH AN ORIGINAL PLAY

[Image description: logo design for the short play Distance Learning, written by Carey Crim. The play title, "Distance Learning," is on the screen of a laptop, made to look like part of a video conference call on Zoom. The phrase "Connection through Disconnection" is shown on the keyboard of the laptop. End image description]

10 students meet with their English Teacher via Zoom for online learning during the pandemic. Though lonely and isolated, they find solace and connection in one another even through their disconnection. When one student doesn’t show up for class, a secret is revealed and his friends and teacher worry for his safety.  A play about actions and consequences, the difficulty of doing the right thing, and the realization that sometimes all we need is for someone to listen to us.

For more information, and to get involved in producing Distance Learning, please e-mail info@projectswithjason.com.

 

MEET CAREY CRIM
Artist-in-Residence & commissioned playwright for Projects with Jason

[Image Description: photo of playwright Carey Crim. End Image Description]

Photo of: 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. It opened to critical acclaim at The Purple Rose Theater and went on to Theatre Aquarius in Ontario, The Rubicon Theatre in Los Angeles, and was scheduled to open at The Park Theatre in London before the shutdown. Conviction premiered at Bay Street Theatre starring Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt and Elizabeth Reaser. It then opened at The Rubicon Theatre and was nominated for an Ovation award for best new play.

Her earlier works, Growing Pretty, Wake, and Some Couples May… all received world premieres at The Purple Rose Theatre Company. Wake had a West Coast Premiere at the SeaGlass Theatre in Los Angeles where it was a critic’s pick. Carey adapted it for the screen, and the feature film, starring Jo Koy, James Denton, and Myndy Crist, has won numerous festival awards and was released October 8th. It is currently available on Amazon Prime. Her play Morning After Grace ran to sold out houses at The Purple Rose Theatre Company starring Randolph (Randy) Mantooth. It went on to Asolo Repertory Theatre, The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Shakespeare and Company, The Barter Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and is slated for many more. Paint Night will open at The Purple Rose as soon as we are able to gather together again. The Last Broadcast was recently seen in Urbanite Theatre’s Modern Works Festival in Sarasota, Florida.

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.

 

EDUCATOR TO EDUCATOR

[Image Description: photo of Projects with Jason Production Education Team Member Gai Laing Jones, author of the article entitled "Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators." End image description]
Photo of: Gai Laing Jones
 

Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators
By Gai Laing Jones
(www.gaijones.com)
Projects with Jason Production Education Team Member
 
 Cliché Quotes That Should Be Retired:
“You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
 “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”
 “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”What we need right now is not platitudes but manageable objectives that we can achieve in this time of creating new curriculum for distance and/or hybrid learning. And how to self-care, not only teaching my students how to take care for themselves during this challenging time but learning to care for myself. How about carving out time for me? How do I do that without adding more to my already challenging day?The worst scenarios I have heard:

  • After my first day of teaching online, I went to bed at 7:30 pm. Then I had to get up at 11 pm to see which student checked in to get credit for the day. So schools can get their ADA.
  • Last night. The exhaustion is real. Not sure which is the most exhausting part; the mask for 7 hours in a row, the kids in class & on the screen at the same time needing two different teaching styles at the same time, dealing with technology issues, or just the normal back to school start. It’s. A. Lot. 
  • The unanswered questions and incomplete info are getting to me.
  • I was going at 100%, then it was a sudden – close my computer, turn off office lights, changed my clothes and went for a run. I guess my body told me what it needed… before totally crashing in bed!
  • I tried really hard to do my class expectations, but, well.. I feel like it’s best to mark everything “draft” that we distribute this year, that would make it feel more accurate – and like I’m getting somewhere!
  • I literally paused my video and put my head down in a zoom mtg. I couldn’t stop crying.
  • I had 2 screens set up and one fell and broke during a class. I was frozen with fear. I didn’t know how to solve it. I would have been able to handle it if we were in person and a kid did that. I would be able to help them. I could not help myself.
  • All I want to do is eat and sleep. Make this all go away.
 
Journey to Self-Care
The definition of self-care is any action that you use to improve your health and well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI), there are six elements to self-care: (1) Physical, (2) Psychological, (3) Emotional, (4) Spiritual, (5) Social, and (6) Professional.Ideally, a healthy self-care strategy should include an activity that addresses each of these factors every day. That way, you can make sure that every element of your overall health and well-being is taken care of. Self-care activities can be small- to large-scale habits, with examples ranging from packing a healthy lunch to waking up early every day to do a short mediation before work. When left unchecked, teacher stress can lead to burnout and contribute to the high turnover rate in education. But self-care can turn this around and help keep teachers from getting burned out.I applaud you; I honor and respect you for doing what you do. My license plate says APLS4U; the holder says “Every Day You Deserve a Round of Applause.” I often see people in my rear-view mirror applauding. It is a bit concerning to see no hands on steering wheel, so I applaud them back and steer clear. Try starting your day by giving yourself applause. Look in a mirror and applaud. Blow kisses, thank everyone who ever encouraged you. Give the Tony Award speech of your life. Each day, accept a virtual award for just being you.

 

HOW TO SUPPORT US

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SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

 

Projects with Jason’s first professional guest and friend, Lesley McKinnell, appeared on our first Virtual Cabaret in March 2020.  Enjoy this incredible performance of a collaboration of two songs of hope with PwJ’s Musical Supervisor, Jason Yarcho on piano.
 

PWJ TEAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

[Image Description: photo of Projects with Jason Team Member/Host of Tech Table KC Wilkerson, author of the article entitled, "Finding My Light." End image description.]
Photo of: KC Wilkerson
 

Finding My Light
By KC Wilkerson
Projects with Jason Team Member, Host of Tech Table
I get a lot of questions about my current job so let’s start there. I’m the principal lighting designer for Disney Parks Live Entertainment at the Disneyland Resort. My role consists primarily of three parts:
  • I oversee the creative implementation of lighting and visual effects (including lasers, fountains, fire, and atmospherics) by providing leadership for my team. Together, we design, implement, and program creative visual elements for shows, parades, and projects in California and Hawaii.
  • I provide creative direction for our fireworks program, overseeing all of the creative elements for the seven different shows we perform.  
  • I design projects. If you’ve been to Disneyland in the last 10 years, you’ve seen my work or the work of my talented design team.
My theatre career didn’t start at Disneyland, though. It began with a passion for music, art, and architecture.
 
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star (always a great career plan). My parents gave me an electric guitar for Christmas one year, and I tried to teach myself to play but I was undisciplined. I eventually abandoned it because I realized I didn’t have a passion for playing music – the passion was for listening to music, collecting records, and going to see concerts.
 
My second passion was art. I dove deep into art classes and as I learned more, my passion for art and artists grew and I found myself expressing things I couldn’t say in words. There was, however, the nagging realization that while I was deeply passionate about art I couldn’t see it as a career.
 
Then there was architecture. From an early age, I was always trying to figure out how things were built. In junior high I took drafting classes which taught me how to be intentional and precise. I took Shop which taught me how to build what I had drafted. However, I had significant struggles with math and without math, architecture would not be possible.
 
What I realized, years later, was the common bond between my passions involved the act of creating. Art, music, and architecture were the manifestation of my core desire: to be creative. I had no idea how what to do with that much less how to turn it into a career. Then, in high school, a friend of mine who knew my art background asked if I wanted to come to a “paint party” in the school auditorium to paint the set for their upcoming show. I showed up and almost immediately realized I loved the inclusive, creative environment. I hadn’t previously experienced that camaraderie, that shared sense of purpose. It wasn’t about the set, or the acting, or the lights; it was about all of us working together towards something bigger.
 
I can’t write something about my career path and not acknowledge two specific teachers who were instrumental in connecting me to my creativity.
 
In addition to introducing me to design principles, art teacher Martha Doyal pushed me. Her simple demand was “show up to the canvas”.  She forced me to challenge myself. She insisted that I not allow anyone to place limitations on me. Perhaps most importantly she inspired me to kill my excuses. Those are eternal lessons that I use nearly every day of my life.
 
As my first theatre director, Ken Dyess taught me the power of elevation. The idea that there is a bigger picture, that it was important to understand that picture, and the only way to see it all is to get out of the weeds. He gave me the opportunity to use my passions and skills by designing sets. He was the one that connected the dots and pointed me down the road to becoming a set designer.
 
The summer I graduated, I went to see The Police in concert. There, I saw moving lights (which were in their infancy) for the first time. It was magic as far as I was concerned and I fell hopelessly in love with light. In retrospect, it’s still surprising to me how one experience can crystallize everything and shoot lightning bolts deep into your core and fundamentally change your life. After that night, I no longer wanted to be a set designer.
 
So off to college I go, and since I was a scholarship recipient I was required to audition for all of the shows. Much to my dismay, I got cast. The more time I spent onstage, the more convinced I was that I wanted to be backstage. My college years were filled with design work, acting in shows, and being on stage crews.
 
After graduation, I bounced around the local theater scene in Houston (where I was living at the time) taking the typical odd jobs just to make ends meet. I had the opportunity to move to southern California with my family. I worked in many small theatres, and even though there were more gigs it was still tough to make a living. Then, on a whim, I applied for a summer job at Disneyland.
 
After a year or so, I was getting opportunities and enjoying the working environment. One of those opportunities was a series of promotional tours which allowed me to travel across the U.S. and Europe over a span of three years. In those short three years, I rose from being a tech to crew chief to technical director. While being on tour is exciting, it’s also exhausting so I decided to come back home and put down roots.
 
Returning back to the park, I began to seek out other opportunities. I said “yes” to everything, including an offer to be assistant technical director for a new Disneyland fireworks show. It was there that I fell in love with larger-than-life spectaculars. It was (and continues to be) great fun working at such a grand scale. That show was a huge hit and shortly afterward I was offered a job as one of Disneyland’s technical directors.
 
You’re thinking, “Wait, why are you a TD? Didn’t you want to be a designer?” The answer is yes, but one of the most important lessons I have ever learned is that the path isn’t straight. It includes curves and dips, each one of which contains opportunities. At the time, the company did not have design roles within the organization and being a TD was the closest I could get.
 
Once I was a TD, I realized I could do some of the design work myself. I began doing larger projects where I was fulfilling both the TD and the design role. That got the attention of my leadership and over the course of the next several years, my role evolved to include more design work. When the company restructured our organization about 10 years ago, they created new positions and I was moved into the lighting design role. I am now part of a larger group of designers (lighting, audio, video, show control) and technical directors.
 
I’ve also continued to work in theater, designing lighting and projection for a variety of shows (and picking up a slew of design awards), in addition to corporate work and museums. Along the way, I discovered that I love sharing what I’ve learned with students so I’ve participated in the California Thespian Festival and the International Thespian Festival; conducting workshops and mentoring design students. With Disney Performing Arts, I’ve developed a series of technical theatre workshops that allow students a peek behind the curtain to see how we create some of the magic they see in Disney parks. I’ve given keynote addresses to students and spoken with teachers around the country about the arts, creativity, and design. I love doing all of those things but nothing really eclipses the moments I can stand in front of a new rig and see it light up for the first time. After 38 years in this business, it’s the one thing that makes me feel like I’m in high-school again; and it never ceases to bring up a sense of wonder and give me the feeling of so many possibilities waiting to be realized.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Projects with Jason Members:
PATRONS
Julia CuppyCONTRIBUTORS
Jamie Brown
Amanda Pascale
Nick Robinson
PRODUCERS
Debby Gibbs

SUSTAINERS
Kyle D. & Kimberly Cole
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
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
Claremont High School, Claremont, CA, Educator Krista Carson Elhai
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin, OH, Educator Pat Santanello
Munster High School, Munster, IN, Educator Ray Palasz
Liberty High School, Henderson, NV, Educator Sharon Chadwick

Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, St. Louis, MO,
Director of Education & Outreach Dominic Dowdy-Windsor

 

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[Image Description: List of Projects with Jason team members and their titles. Here is the text: "Team Members: J. Jason Daunter- Founder, Artistic Director. Kimberly Cole- Production Manager. Kyle D. Cole- Technical Supervisor. John Conover- Legal Consultant. Matt Conover- Executive Producer. Will Conover- Social Media Twitter. Krista Carson Elhai- Production Education Team. Dylan Elhai- Graphic Designer. Cambria Graff- Production Education Team. Jeff Hall- Production Education Team, Tech Table Producer. Gai Laing Jones- Production Education Team. Travis Kelley- Video & Digital Content Manager. Vanessa Martinez- Social Media Manager, Facebook, Instagram. KC Wilkerson- Tech Table Host. Jason Yarcho- Musical Supervisor, Composer, Arranger. Student Team Members: Caroline Conover- Digital Content Stage Manager. Louie Gallagher- Virtual Cabaret Host, Social Media- TikTok. Bellise Sacchetto- Virtual Cabaret, Artist in Conversation, and Tech Table Original Graphic Designer. Alumni: Greg Mauro, Nate Reid, Austin Sarti." Below that list is the words "Until Next Time..." and the Projects with Jason logo and website address of www.projectswithjason.com. End image description.]
 

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