Category Archives: Teaching Theatre


Today I am ordering make-up for my new school.  I half-heatedly offered to do so, since it is the summer and I have the time to drive all the way to Norcostco, while my future co-workers are in the process of moving countries/apartments/schools!  Lo and behold, I was taken up on the offer, because make-up in Bangladesh is very expensive and a hassle to get.

There are two problems with my make-up buying idea: 1) I have no idea what quantities, colors, styles they have been using and what they use some of the items for! 2) I do not know how much I am able to spend (cause I could spend a lot).

I am going for it anyway and if it turns out I misjudged, we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.  For example: How much Crepe hair in black and grey does a program need for one year? Is one yard enough? Is 8 oz. of Clown White make-up sufficient – or will we have to skimp on the mimes?  Is the High School doing Rocky Horror? or Cats? Or the Diary of Anne Frank? I know at the Middle School we are doing Seussical. Cake make-up versus creme?

I will have to pack it all in the shipment, because I am pretty sure that the TSA will confiscate my Liquid Latex, Spirit Gum and Spirit Gum remover when I go through security.  I will try to explain, but unless I look like the woman (man?) in the above picture – I am not sure they will buy it.


Married to my books(?)

I have a lot of books that I brought home from school.  For the past four years they sat on a bookshelf in my classroom.  Every once in a while I would pull one off to check a reference or copy a picture for use in class.  Most of the bigger books are textbooks from my college days.  If you are a theater person you probably have the same books: Acting is Believing, Stage Make-up, Designing with Light, four different kinds of western theater books, several anthologies of plays both modern and classic, a book of Greek comedies and one of Greek tragedies, scripts coming out my wazoo, and a GIANT ASS book of plays from modern theater that was determined to be representative of the artform (seriously the thing could be used as a doorstop). Those are just the books I can think of off the top of my head.

I graduated from college in 1993.  I have had the books for almost 20 years.  When I got them, we were just starting to use computers to “word process” our papers for class.  I still have some of those papers as well.  I have had the books with me with every move and with every teaching job.  (Man those boxes of books were damn heavy to move.)

They somehow gave credibility to my Theater Arts Degree.  “Of course I am a Theater Artist, just look at all the theater books I have.”  And when they sat on my shelf in the classroom, even though I rarely ever used them – it made it seem as if I had a wealth of knowledge (of course I do, because I read every single one of those books from cover to cover). It was nice to have them there.  It was comforting.

This afternoon I had to sit down in my basement and go through all of the boxes of teaching materials that I brought home from school.  It was about 10 boxes.  There was some curriculum, some magazines, some handouts, work samples, decorative desk items and a lot of crap that I kept, because I didn’t know what to do with it. Then there were the books.

If you haven’t looked at the shipping limitations post yet – I only am allowed to bring (for the family) between 2000-3000 lbs.  Those books are heavy, so I needed to narrow them down.  It was hard.  It took me a lot of time.  The first problem is that I don’t exactly know what materials that they have at the school and the second problem is that I do not know what the exact curriculum is.

The final problem is that I just can’t seem to part with them.  There is a sense that I will be giving up my identity as a learned theater artist if I have no books.  Where is the evidence that I studied?  Where is the physical representation of my intellectual toil?  How will people see that I know things? About theater.

I had to just turn off my emotions.  I had to come to the realization (as many of you probably have already done) that it is not the titles of the books that demonstrate your abilities in theater education – it is what I do and it is how I impact the lives of the students and the theater community.  Through my actions and experience, not the overpriced textbooks with the yellow USED sticker across the lower binding.  Whew!  It took a while to get to there this afternoon.

So, realizing that most information can be gathered online these days.  Logically comparing the cost of shipping the books to the benefit I would get from the occasional reference.  Assuming that there are some materials at the school I can use. And taking a big leap of faith – I have narrowed the books down to the truly essential ones.

Don’t worry, the books that were cast aside will just go into storage.  I am still not ready to make a final break.  Besides that Western Theater book has a funny doodle of my theater history professor that my roommate and I made when we took the class (Sorry, Ole Dave – you know I love you).

Parents: Banish this phrase

“You need something to fall back on”

Tonight while I was sitting there zoning out my mind began to wander.  I started
to think about people who are good at what they do, or rather people who are known for being good at something.  And that led into me thinking about my own upbringing.

When I was in High School and was at that moment when you have to decide what path you want to take I decided that I wanted to study theater and become an actor.  I told my school guidance counselor this as we talked about Colleges I was looking at.  He told me that theater was a difficult profession and that I should also study something more practical.

Around that same time my parents were asking me what I might want to go to college for and I again stated theater.  That is when I was told that I needed something to fall back on.  Something practical like a teacher.  Not wanting to disappoint them I enrolled in college as a Psych Major with a minor in theater.  Within that first year I switched them around and became a Theater Major/Psych minor.  I did not tell them.

It wasn’t until I was a sophomore that I had my “coming out”.  I remember it vividly.  We were standing in the kitchen, my parents listening as I mustered up the courage to tell them who I really was; “Mom, Dad.  I am a theater major.  I know that you may not approve, but it is who I am and I hope that you can accept me for that.”  Things were easier after that, but in the back of my mind that niggling voice just wouldn’t go away “You need something to fall back on”.

I know my parents were trying to be as protective as they knew how.  I know now that it was not malicious or meant to be unsupportive in any way, but that phrase stifled me.  Instead of me getting the message that they cared about my future and wanted me to be financially secure the message was:  You can’t be successful at that, why don’t you try something more realistic.  They just wanted me to be….stable?

Recently, when my cousin was deciding what college to go to study music, my aunt (his mom) asked me about a future in the arts.  She said she was concerned that he might not have “anything to fall back on”.  Now my cousin is crazy good at music and that is all he wants to do with his life.  He doesn’t know what specifically, but he knows it has to be in music.  My response, “he doesn’t need anything to fall back on.  He needs to hear what you are going to do to help him reach his goal”.

I had to become an adult to realize that I didn’t need something to fall back on, I needed some support so that I didn’t fall flat on my face.  I needed to know that people had faith in me, that people believed that I could achieve my goal, and that devoting myself 100% to what I REALLY want to do is better than giving 50% to something I really DON’T want to do and whatever is left over to my dream.  Imagine how far you could go putting 100% into the journey.

If my son want to be a ditch digger, my first response is going to be “OK, let’s see if we can find you some classes on proper digging technique or buy you a new shovel”.  If my daughter wants to be a mortician, I am going to encourage her to be the best mortician she can possibly be.  And if they want to be actors, or dancers, or NBA stars I am going to be right there if they need something to fall back on.  And then I am going to prop them right back up and tell them to get back on that horse.

FYI – My parents are fantastic supporters of my and my family.  They are 100% behind our big move and that phrase uttered so long ago was their way of showing me love and I know that.