New in 2017!

We have had a busy start to the year here at Ludlam Dramatics, but we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our new Winter/Spring 2017 product line!  Here is a brief overview of our new products and why we love them!

New Theatre Posters

As you know, our highest goal is to create resources for your classroom with valuable, theatre-specific content that is visually stimulating.  With that in mind, we have just released three new posters to add to your collection!

Elizabethan Theatre

To expand upon our Theatre History line of posters (including Greek & Roman Theatre and Commedia delle’Arte) we have added a poster breaking down the Elizabethan period and its impact on modern theatre.  As many states’ curriculum includes the study of Shakespeare and the study of Theatre History, we feel that this poster is perfect for all levels of theatre students as well as for cross-curricular usage.

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Get it HERE!

Run Crew Breakdown

Another goal with all of our products and resources is to make sure that we include more than just actors and performers.  We have been very intentional about including technicians and the technical elements of theatre arts into our poster and products.  The newest technical poster we have is our Run Crew Breakdown!  This design charts the basic roles and responsibilities of the backstage/booth crew during the actual run of a production.  Each crew is described and connected to the Stage Manager to illustrate the chain of command during a show.

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Get this one HERE!

Theatre Skills Poster

We debuted this poster at the TETA TheatreFest in Texas last month and it was a roaring success!  Using a word-cloud design, we have compiled a list of the real-life skills that are taught in the theatre.  Simple and clean, this poster is a fabulous reminder that theatre class is more than just public speaking.  Skills that are sought after in the workplace and in the world at large can be introduced and mastered through so many avenues in the world of the theatre and this poster is a lovely way to validate the significance of theatre on its practitioners!

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This is available HERE!

Other Resources and Gear

The Stage Compass

We are super-excited to introduce this little bit of brilliance to your classroom!  The stage compass is a printed card that is meant to be worn around a necklace or lanyard to orient the student on stage.  It is the perfect tool for parts-of-the-stage games and for adding differentiation into your classroom.  As we mentioned, we like to keep the technicians in mind, so this is also a great tool for your beginning tech crew to orient themselves from onstage or in the house.  The reverse side of the compass card includes common blocking vocabulary for a quick-reference to keep directors and actors communicating effectively!

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Get a Stage Compass HERE!

Tee Shirts

We rolled these out toward the end of 2016, but they are fabulous enough to mention!  We currently have four t-shirt designs for the Theatre Lover!  These shirts are available in sizes XS-XXL and are made of vinyl pressed onto soft, ring-spun cotton, unisex t-shirts.  We strive to make our shirts affordable and fashionable so they can be enjoyed by all!

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Tee Shirts take a few extra days to create, so allow a little time for us to get it to you!

New Buttons

Everybody is looking for that button that just grabs them!  We have added two more to our line that we think you and your students will love!  These are great as rewards, good show gifts, or just pieces of flair!

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We hope you love this new stuff and that it makes your classroom a better place!  Be sure and let us know if you would like to place an order!

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Mutual Benefits: Sports and Theatre

Pop culture, the media, and many social avenues are trending toward promoting the “Us v. Them” mentality. As fellow arts educators, we can certainly commiserate with teachers of the arts about athletics departments and the financial, admin support, and student interest imbalances that some experience. However,  we would rather take a moment to remember what it’s all about: gifting students with the tools to go into the world as balanced, healthy, well-rounded adults.

With that in mind, let’s explore some of the ways that sports and the arts can work together to benefit the student, and take a position of support for what each department has to offer.

Continue reading

New Year’s Resolutions for the Theatre Teacher!

A fresh, shiny, new year brings a fabulous chance to set some new goals for the classroom. Here are a couple of our favorite ideas for New Year’s Resolutions specifically for Theatre teachers (submitted by Theatre teachers). Use these to get inspired about 2017!

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Get every student involved during classes and programs.  -Johnathan A.

 

Try out or create a new-to-me lesson at least once a month. -Sylvia C.

 

Have more patience with THAT class. -Annalise R.

 

Read more scripts. -Tom L.

 

Make changes to classroom walls and furniture configuration. -LeNae R.

(Editor’s Note: You can check out some ideas on how to use those walls as teaching tool in a previous post!)
 

Purge and catalogue the costume and props storage. -Jenny L.

 

Promote the department and our accomplishments more. -Chase B.

 

Share good lessons with other theatre teachers and get their best lesson ideas from them. -Charlie S.

 

Learn about an area of Theatre in which I am not well-versed. -Rosa T.

 

Invite an audience into my class. (Senior citizens, another class, admin, superintendent, parents) -Jose G.

 

Attend a conference and learn more about my craft. -Shirley M.

 

We think Theatre teachers are a special kind of awesome and we want you to keep up the good work in 2017. Continue learning, inspiring, encouraging, challenging, and loving. Keep teaching compassion, awareness, inclusivity, creativity, and acceptance. The future of the art form is in your hands and we at Ludlam Dramatics can’t wait to see what you will do with it! Happy New Year!

What is your resolution as a teacher? Please share in the comments and keep us posted on your progress throughout the year.

Meet Your Best Co-Teacher Ever (or How to Make Your Walls Work for You)

If you are going to be surrounded by them everyday, you might as well make them work, right? No, I don’t mean the kids in your Production Lab classes—I’m talking about your walls. Classroom bulletin boards tend to have a more elementary school connotation and bring to mind images of bright colors and mono-syllabic words with those weird curvy borders around them. But, have those of you on a middle and high school level considered what a resource that real estate is?!

Let’s explore some ways to think about your walls that could maximize students’ learning.

Anchor for Material

When you are introducing a new concept, you will certainly have some students who will latch onto it right away. But there will always be some whose learning style just doesn’t jive with your teaching style. By creating a wall space representing the material and teaching from the area around that space, you have the potential to create a more memorable impact for that information. Colorful posters with information, past students’ examples, and tangible evidence will be one more avenue for getting that knowledge into their brains. It doesn’t need to be cluttered, over-stimulating, or Pinterest-perfect (ahem).  A simple, creative, visual representation of the material will give the opportunity for better recall of the information later for the more visual learners. It will also provide a reference point for future material that builds from the concept.

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Pinterest-perfect bulletin boards…

Work in Progress

Like your students and you as a teacher, your walls are a work in progress. The school year is always a journey and the students start somewhere and (hopefully) grow to land somewhere else by the end of the year. There is no rule that says your walls have to be finished before students ever enter the classroom and must remain as such, forever and ever amen. Why not start with simple rules and procedures and build the wall displays in clever and creative ways as the instructional year progresses? The fluidity provides a break from the monotonous and can help get the attention of your learners. This will also make sure that the time you spend decorating your room is going to make a real impact on what students retain when they leave it.

 

Resources for Objectives

We know you are busy. Between classes, rehearsals, staff meetings, duties, and everything else, there isn’t always time to make the students memorize every detail of every lesson objective. Let’s say for example that you want your students to use Strasberg’s Method in an improvisation exercise. You have discussed this method before when exploring influential theatre practitioners, but your students are getting it confused with Meisner’s repetition exercise. By displaying the information they have already been taught, you spend less time re-teaching and more time empowering the students to discover the differences on their own. So the time you put into creating a wall display while teaching the material could save Future You some time (and frustration) down the road.

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Boom.  Learning Achieved.

Interactive Learning

Imagine the possibilities. Maybe the idea of creating a wall-sized presentation isn’t feasible for you for whatever reason. Consider the innumerable possibilities instead of using the wall space as a launchpad for your students’ learning. By having them create the bulletin board ties all of these things together, leaving you with an interactive, reference point that is fluid, interesting, and provides a reliable resource for your learners. Consider:

A Graffiti Wall

A simple prompt is written boldly on the display area and students are encouraged to draw, write, or use post-it notes to answer the prompt.

Example: “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream is…” The objective would be to let students write, draw, or post facts about the play after reading it. Not short opinions, such as “a good play,” but factual statements. Nothing can be repeated, so they could take turns adding to it and having to come up with new, thoughtful responses each round. This could also be used for cross-curricular studies.

A Character Wall

Example A: Cut out very basic/cartoonish shape of a body (think gingerbread person) and give to each student. They will choose a character to represent by creating a makeup design on its face and using fabrics to create a costume.  Then, using the visible spaces in the body or a separate card, they write out physical mannerisms on that body part (particular hand gesture written on the hand, etc) and emotional/situational affectations that occur during the character’s journey.

Example B: Have students lay down on butcher paper and trace one another’s outline (crime scene style.) Each student takes his/her paper character and fills it with physical and emotional traits of the character being portrayed.  This could be used in cross-curricular education with health and science when discussing tattoos, piercings, and body modifications, as well as with literature and history studies.

So as we march onward into a new semester, consider changing your walls or changing your perspective of how you use your walls.  You will enrich the learning experience for everyone!

Please share with us some creative ways you use your walls to help teach your theatre classes and ideas for interactive bulletin boards!

How My Theatre Degree Prepared Me to Be…An Entrepreneur!

“A Theatre major?  What will you do with that degree?”

If you’ve got a Theatre degree, or have considered getting one, you have likely encountered this question. It is typically followed by, “Well, I guess you could always teach.”  (Sound familiar?)

While we at Ludlam Dramatics are really into the idea of Theatre teachers, we recognize that not every BA/BFA in Theatre plans to be an instructor. Not everyone in the general public understands how useful Arts degrees can be!

To that end, we are beginning a new blog series in which we will interview some of our favorite Theatre undergrads and find out how their degree has helped them with the non-theatre jobs they do now.

I’ll go first!

I am Jennifer Ludlam and I have a BA in Theatre from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. The Ludlams have had several jobs since leaving college, including a stint as the technical directors at a community theatre and many years in the classroom teaching creative dramatics. I now partner with my husband in running Ludlam Dramatics and have a thriving business as a professional Belly Dancer. I have worn a lot of hats since graduating, but perhaps one of the most adventurous is that of an entrepreneur!

Since 2010, I have owned and operated four small businesses. It’s been an amazing ride and I owe a lot of it to the lessons learned in the Theatre. Here are some ways my Theatre degree prepared me to be an entrepreneur:

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And I owe it all to you, Theatre.

Courage.

It takes a lot of guts to get out there onstage and “be” someone else in front of an audience. It also takes a lot of guts to quit your nine-to-five and strike out on your own. Just as you prepare for a role one rehearsal, one line, one beat a time, you build a business one dream, one task, one action at time.  Many days throughout the process, I have had to remind myself that if I can get up in front of an audience, I can do anything.  More people are afraid of public speaking than are afraid of death. Theatre gave me the courage to go for it, knowing that there would be rejection and struggle and vulnerability.  It also gave me the knowledge that the reward is worth every bit of it.

My first entrepreneurial effort was a fitness dance studio centered around adults. Fitness is a tough industry. There is a constant ebb and flow as people wax and wane in their own personal motivation. Most days were spent trying to convince potential clients that this business could be what they needed to reach their fitness and wellness goals. I quickly learned that motivation is not something that can always be contagious.  You just can’t want it for them. But, I also figured out that courage IS contagious. My willingness to step out of comfort zones inspired the clientele to do the same thing. Before long, they were trying new foods, changing the way they responded in relationships, and unapologetically being themselves in life! By being in the spotlight whether it was comfortable or not, the people around me were encouraged to take a look at themselves and find their own spotlights. And isn’t that the essence of theatre, after all?!

Resourcefulness.

Running a small business is expensive. It can tax your finances, your time, your emotions, your physical well-being, and your relationships. Guess what? Working on a show can do the same things. Putting work into show after show cultivates character traits that promote personal maturity. It is the perfect training ground for financial budgeting, efficient task management, self-care, and nurturing relationships. These skills are essential when you own your business.

Improvisation.

Many years of re-using materials from the last set, mixing old paints to get the perfect new color, and creating a rehearsal space out of anything made for some mad thinking-outside-the-box skills. My second business was an outdoor fitness program for moms with young children. We used the environment as our gym and did not have any equipment except a resistance band. Giving the moms a great workout while entertaining the kids in their strollers required pulls from every bag of tricks that I had acquired. The task required quick thinking and a lot of creativity. Even the simplest of improvisational activities in class helped me to hone these skills.

Businesses today are as unique as the business-people who birth them. There is not an instruction guide for every creative idea, so most days include a lot of trial and error. The improvisational skills learned onstage and in class help with creative thinking, finding a solution for any problem, and a drive to keep things moving. It is imperative to listen, think, and respond appropriately to a huge variety of situations.

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Rules of Improvisation or Essential Guide to Business-ing?

Organization.

As a Stage Manager, I was ALWAYS multitasking. Since even the best stage managers aren’t able to add hours to the day, we figure out systems that work for our own brains to make everything run smoothly and efficiently. With so many plates spinning, the most adept SM’s are able to find shortcuts that save time and stress without compromising on quality. This skill is necessary in many careers, but I have found it most useful in business ownership.

There are so many jobs outside of Theatre that can benefit from theatrical skills. Some more abstract, some more practical, but all of them useful. I look forward to exploring this topic and encouraging young artists to explore the theatre in higher education and to Live Life Dramatically!

Do you have a Theatre degree and are working a non-Theatre career?  Tell us how Theatre prepared you!

 

6 Ways Theatre Kids WIN Halloween

Anyone can do Halloween, but some are, shall we say, more committed to the craft of Halloween than others.  This is the holiday the Theatre community was meant to use to blow all of the general public out of the water!

Here are some reasons why this is our season! (Spoiler alert- nothing to do with pumpkin spice)

1. One of a Kind Costumes

Yes, we know the party store has a huge stock of sexy everything costumes, but we will not, nay, CAN NOT run the risk of a duplicate costume.  The $40 bag that includes a wig might seem like a good deal and certainly takes far less time than the one we’ve been working on since the end of June, but that does not matter.  Halloween is a competition of skill and we shall prevail.

2. The MacGyver Factor

Theatre people are wildly resourceful.  Small budgets, time constraints within a show, and a penchant for impossibly grandiose ideas has forced us to be!  Nothing gets thrown away.  Nothing is waste.  Everything is costume material.

 

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Got some pipecleaners, four cotton balls, some thread, and a drinking straw?  That’s all we need.

3. The Importance of a Prop

The devil is in the details and we know that a perfectly carried prop can send that costume to the next level.  Perhaps our Amazon order history causes a raised eyebrow or two, but we will not hold a plastic “toy” in our hands when we could painstakingly choose a realistic prop that adds to our character’s richness and completes our masterpiece!  Which brings up the next point…

4. Always in Character

We are not simply ourselves in costumes.  That is the work of amateurs.  We have physically, emotionally, and often vocally prepared to transport our audience at every turn.  Did you want to talk about that fun concert you went to last weekend?  I’m sorry, I’m from Victorian England and I don’t know the artist of which you speak.

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But what’s his motivation?  What is his backstory?  Have you even answered Uta Hagen’s Nine Questions?

5. Mad Makeup Skills

Look, Theatre people are not playing when it comes to makeup.  Those waxy crayon things with the gold wrappers are child’s play.  There will be contouring.  There will be special effects.  There will be strangers stopping us to ask for pictures.  We are not to be trifled with in this area.  We put on theatrical makeup just for fun.  You can guarantee there were at least two practice runs before Halloween ever got here.  Makeup skills are no joke and we gots them!slide1

Want this poster?  Click here to get it!

6. Halloween is Really a Year-Round Event

To be honest, for most Theatre kids, Halloween is more of a lifestyle than a holiday.  Many of us have entire sections of our closets dedicated to things we find and pick up and hoard that have costume potential.  Thrift stores, garage sales, hand-me-downs.  They all contribute to an elaborate collection of once and future costume glory.

Most parties we throw are themed or costume parties.  Sometimes we wear a tiara to go to the store and grab some milk.  We study people and constantly hone our skills to represent the world through our own eyes and the opportunities to express that are endless if you aren’t too worried about people thinking you are weird.  And we’re not.

We have the unique skill of seeing the world through many different characters and perspectives and the thrill; the mind-opening, gut-wrenching, soul-filling satisfaction of that, becomes addictive.  We get to create magic for people on and off the stage and there’s no reason we should limit that to one day a year.

So keep up the good work.  Be scary, be funny, be sexy, be historically accurate, and be creative!  This is our time to shine!

 

 

Ten Tips for Beating The Mid-Semester Doldrums

It’s the day before school starts.  Your classroom is ready. You are ripe with wisdom and inspiration from the many inservice meetings you attended.  You have visions of your students’ excitement and enthusiasm for learning.  This year you will be present, energetic, infinitely patient, and wise beyond your years!

Fast forward to mid-terms.  Your classroom is a mess, the kids are a little too comfortable in your class, and there is not enough coffee in this world to get you from your conference period all the way to end of rehearsal.  What to do?

Here are some tips we like to use to keep things fun and interesting, reconnect with your students, and beat those mid-semester doldrums!

1. Change your warm-up routine.

That fabulous activity you have the kids do every time they enter the classroom might be getting on your nerves by this point.  Change it up!  Give them a new set of vocal warm-ups, a new puzzle to solve, or improvisation exercise to do.  It will break up the monotony and be more effective in engaging the children.

2. Rearrange your classroom.

Nothing freshens up a space quickly like moving furniture around!  Switch up that floor plan and create a new zen!  Add some new decorations or educational resources to make the learning space more fun and appealing!

3. Attach “googly eyes” to things.

Because even a stapler can be a puppet if you believe.stapler_with_googly_eyes

4. Interrupt your class with a yoga/stretching break.

Put the lesson aside for a moment and move those muscles!  Just a few moments of deep breathing and stretching can increase focus and oxygen to the brain.

5. Try this hilarious improvisation game.

Have the audience choose an item or a classroom-appropriate topic (the more inane, the better).  The actor will then have to go on a full, ranting tirade about this item!  Then sit back and listen as they give their best “just saying,” #sorrynotsorry diatribe about socks and how they are a scourge on our society!

6. Organize a messy space.

Costume storage, desk, car, file cabinet.  It doesn’t matter.  Choose a cluttered area that you see every day and organize it.  You will feel proud and accomplished and have a more efficient space!

7. Teach in a costume.

You have all those great costumes just sitting there, go ahead and teach the parts of the stage as a 1920’s flapper girl!  It will entertain the students and give you something fun to do!

8. Classroom scavenger hunt.

Hide ten paintbrushes around the room and give a prize to the first student to find them all during class!

9. Post-It Note wall.

Give a prompt such as, “What theatre is to me…” and let the students post their responses.  Inspiration galore!

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10. Schedule a Happy Hour with friends.

Take a break to enjoy friends and talk about things that are not job-related!  Have some chips and salsa, maybe a beverage, and unwind!  You deserve it!

Did we miss something?  What do you to stay fresh in the middle of the semester?  Leave a comment below!

Need to freshen up your classroom, or pick up great student gifts? Visit our shop!