Following the tremendous success of last year’s Theatre Day for Teachers, the day-long professional development program for middle and high school theatre teachers, Montclair State University hosted the 2nd Annual Theatre Day for Teachers on January 9. The event provided a rare opportunity for the theatre teachers to meet and network with their peers, and to participate in workshops taught by theatre professionals, Montclair State faculty, and experienced high school teachers.
“As far as I know, we are the only university in the state that brings high school theatre teachers together for professional training,” says event organizer Susan Kerner, associate professor of theatre and dance in Montclair State’s College of the Arts. “I feel that state universities should be reaching out to schools in the state and offering the resources that they have.”
Although only in its second year, Theatre Day for Teachers is growing in reputation among secondary school theatre teachers and this year drew registrants from all across the state and from as far away as Pennsylvania. Many of the nearly 60 participants had attended the first Theatre Day for Teachers held in January of 2008 and had returned to learn new skills, brush up on old ones, and meet with their peers.
According to Kerner, one of the most valuable aspects of the program is the opportunity for the teachers to share resources with one another. “So many of them do The Crucible, or other modern classics, and this gives them a chance to speak with others who have produced the same play,” explains Kerner. “Directors can discuss their production experiences with others about to work on the play, and perhaps even share costumes or props.”
Featuring workshops on subjects such as musical theatre, stage lighting, pop/rock vocal performance, creating characters, stage management, and improvisation, the program offered something for everyone. In addition to the workshops and networking sessions, the participants had the opportunity to hear advice on theatre careers, college theatre programs, and professional training from a panel of professors and theatre professionals.
The success of Theatre Day for Teachers has been such that not only is it now an annual event at Montclair State, but Kerner is working to help the program spread further. “We will share our experiences with colleagues in other states,” she says, “and eventually, we hope to create a national model.”
See more photos from the 2nd Annual Theatre Day for Teachers.