Montclair State University hosted the 3rd Annual Theatre Day for Teachers on May 21 and attracted participants from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to its daylong professional development program for middle and high school theatre teachers. 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 and Montclair State faculty. Many of the participants who attended Theatre Day for Teachers in 2008 and 2009 returned to learn new skills, brush up on old ones, and meet with their peers.
“We were thrilled to be able to offer several popular new workshops this year including stage combat, make-up for the stage, and Hip Hop Shakespeare. Our workshop leaders included actors, such as Jordan Baker, who are known for their extensive work in film, TV, and on Broadway,” said event organizer SUSAN KERNER, associate professor of theatre and dance in Montclair State’s College of the Arts. “The response has been so enthusiastic that we have instituted a week-long summer intensive for theatre teachers that will begin in August 2010.”
According to KERNER, one of the most valuable aspects of the program is the opportunity for the teachers to share resources with one another. “The teachers took advantage of a coffee break, lunch at Café Diem, and a networking session to discuss ideas for upcoming school productions and share resources during this time of severe budget cuts in the schools’ arts programs.”
Featuring workshops on subjects such as Defining the Text: Choices of the Actor, Unlocking Students’ Imaginations, Acting the Song, and Production Management, the program offered something for everyone. In addition to the workshops and networking sessions, the participants talked with Montclair State University Production Design faculty DEBRA OTTE and ERHARD ROM about opportunities for undergraduates at Montclair State in stage and costume design and technical theatre. Professor Otte offered teachers the opportunity to borrow costumes from the Theatre and Dance Department’s extensive costume stock.
The success of Theatre Day for Teachers has been such that not only is it now an annual event at Montclair State, but Professor Kerner is working with CART Office of Education and Community Outreach Director MARIE SPARKS to help the program spread further. “We will share our experiences with colleagues in other states,” Sparks says, “and eventually, we hope to create a national model." Click here for more information on Teacher Training.