Theater Day for high school students, being led by faculty from the Department of Theater and Dance.

Theatre Day for Teachers

Theatre Day for Teachers offers professional development opportunities for middle and high school theatre teachers.

Our Mission

Montclair State University has become the major resource within the higher education community offering professional development opportunities for secondary school theatre educators. We hope to become a national model for universities seeking to reach out to schools in their communities and states.

With Theatre Day for Teachers we provide an annual day of workshops, networking, camaraderie and support to secondary school theatre teachers in New Jersey and neighboring states. The workshops vary each year and are conducted by professional artists and educators in the areas of theatre performance (acting, voice and speech, and movement) design, technology, directing, stage management, dramaturgy, and classroom practice.

Theatre Day for Teachers Registration usually begins in October. Please submit your registration form. Space is limited. All registration forms must be received by December 15 to ensure your spot in the workshop.

Theatre Day for Teachers will be held in Life Hall on Montclair State University’s campus.

Morning Group Workshop:

Viewpoints as Vocabulary in Directing and Performance

Whether you are new to Viewpoints Training or returning for more this year, join us for a morning intensive exploring the nine viewpoints created by Mary Overlie and used by Anne Bogart and theatre practitioners throughout the country and beyond in an exploration of space and time that creates ensemble, builds focus and presence with improvisational exercises that have enormous impact for all ages. Taught by Heather Benton, program coordinator for the BFA Acting Program at Montclair State University.

Breakout Sessions:

Object Monologue Workshop with Ellen Lancaster

Creating monologues can be a great way to introduce your students to dramatic form while encouraging personal creativity and expression. By using a personal object that has meaning to you ( anything from the beloved ring you wear of your grandmothers to that cell phone you can’t live without) we will create, edit and perform personal monologues, incorporating, point of view, narrative structure, and character. A great ice breaker for a new group of students.

“Real Directors of New Jersey” Activating truthful and authentic performances in young artists.

Through group exercises and directing techniques honed by Professor Susan Kerner’s many years directing in both educational and professional settings, workshop participants will refresh and revitalize their creative framework, thus empowering students toward a collaborative spirit and willingness to engage.

Workshop Leader Bios:

Heather Benton is the program coordinator of the BFA Acting Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State. She specializes in a physical approach to acting, movement training and devised work. Benton served five years at American Academy of Dramatic Arts as the head of movement. She has created original work, devised pieces and movement for Montclair State University, AADA, Kenyon College, East River Commedia, Theatre Trouve, the undergroundzero festival. MFA in Acting from the ART/MXAT at Harvard.

Ellen Lancaster is an adjunct teacher of Acting, Theater and Film at Montclair State. She has appeared in plays On and Off Broadway, and Regional Theater. She has worked in Film and TV and On Camera and Voice Over commercials since graduating from ART Harvard with an MFA in Acting. She attended Northwestern University undergrad and has extensive acting and teaching credits in Chicago as well.

Susan Kerner is a Professor at Montclair State University where her recent productions include Clybourne Park, The Big Meal, Equus, Stage Door, The Grapes of Wrath, and Arcadia. Directing credits include productions in New York, London, Shanghai, and at major regional theatres throughout the United States. In November 2016 she directed the 20th anniversary production of James Still’s And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank at Jersey City Theatre Center and The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC. A NY/NJ school tour of this timely play is in the works. Email Susan at for info. Ms. Kerner is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Ms. Kerner was Head Acting Judge for the NJPAC Star Ledger Scholarships, currently serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Theatre Praxis, and served on a National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Panel. A recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education, Ms. Kerner holds graduate degrees from Columbia University and Boston University, was a Fulbright Scholar in India, and has recently taught courses in China, Korea, Austria, Greece, Italy, and England.

Theatre Day for Teachers Sample Workshop Schedule Outline

*Please note that this is the schedule is only a reference and is subject to change.

8:15-9:00 a.m. – Registration/Breakfast/Networking

9:00-9:15 a.m. – Opening Remarks

9:15-10:45 a.m. – Group Workshops

10:45-11:00 a.m. – Coffee Break

11:00-12:15 p.m. – Breakout Session Part I

12:15-1:00 p.m. – LUNCH BREAK

1:00-2:15 p.m. – Breakout Session Part II: ALL PARTICIPANTS BACK TO SAME ROOMS

2:15-3:00 p.m. – Wrap Discussion/Evaluations/Presentation of Certificates

Workshop Fee/Payment Methods

This one-day professional development workshop is $175. Breakfast and lunch are provided. The certificate of completion will be given at the end of the day. This workshop counts as six hours of professional development credits. We accept personal checks, school checks, and credit cards (Visa, Discover, and MasterCard). If your school is paying for your participation in the workshop, we ask that you provide us with a purchase order no later than December 15 to ensure your spot. If you are paying with a personal check or credit card, the workshop fee must be paid in full at registration on January 15.


On the day of the workshop, please park in the Red Hawk parking deck on the University campus. The parking fee is now included in the workshop fee. A parking voucher will be given to you at the end of the day along with the certificate of completion.

Our History

In 2007 we responded to the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project’s report (9/18/07) in WITHIN OUR POWER: THE PROGRESS, PLIGHT AND PROMISE OF ARTS EDUCATION FOR EVERY CHILD, In the Recommendations the report states, “We recommend that the New Jersey State Department of Education and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts work with the professional arts education associations in the state and the state’s institutions of higher education to develop and expand professional development opportunities for visual and performing arts educators.”

Theatre Day for Teachers was initiated in 2008 by Theatre and Dance Department professor Susan Kerner and Mahwah High School teacher JoAnne Fox to provide an opportunity and a place for theatre educators to gather to share ideas and learn new Best Practices from professionals in the field and from each other.

The event is a positive educationally based community building experience.  Students are able to share their work with other students and to be recognized outside their own high schools.  This outside recognition has direct benefits for students and teachers in districts throughout the state.  In a time when theatre arts programs are in peril this outside recognition helps maintain and even build quality high school theatre programs.

Theatre Day for Teachers 2015


In the past seven years the College of the Arts at Montclair State University has created several successful ongoing programs for a new generation of teachers who seek professional development opportunities, support, and the stimulation provided by colleagues sharing similar challenges. The programs have positioned Montclair State University as the place to go for professional development opportunities in the Arts for secondary school teachers in the region.

The collaborative approach of these programs has created a network of shared ideas, best practices and resources for the New Jersey theatre education community. A core of dedicated teachers takes advantage of all of the University’s programs during the past seven years and regularly participates in Theatre Day for Teachers, Theatre Night Awards, and Theatre on the Move.

In the words of Bergen County Academies teacher Rebecca Strum:

Those of us teaching theatre arts in secondary schools were hungry for the types of professional development available to our colleagues in the visual arts and music…. Then five years ago Susan (Kerner) began her Theatre Day for Teachers initiative and a community was born.  We began to feel a connection, not only with each other, but with theatre educators at the university level. We could adjust and refine our curricula in order to better prepare our students who chose to continue their theatre arts education at the university level.

Inspired by the overwhelming response to her Viewpoints workshop, Head of Acting Heather Benton traveled to the schools of several participating teachers to lead Viewpoints workshops for their students at no charge. Numerous high school students applied to Montclair State University’s undergraduate BA and BFA degree programs as a result of these workshops and the discussions that followed. We intend to expand these school visits in the future as a service to NJ schools and as a recruitment effort for the Department of Theatre and Dance.

For two years Montclair State University offered a one-week summer intensive for theatre teachers in directing Shakespeare and in directing new work and hopes to re-institute that highly successful program again.