Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Developing a Drama Portfolio: Showcasing Your School's Theatrical Achievements

Whether your drama program is just starting out or it’s well established, it’s important to keep a record of your theatrical achievements. Your drama portfolio should consist of a digital and physical archive, as well as a social media presence, and a display element in the school, preferably near to your drama classroom or the school auditorium. School sports achievements are always displayed prominently; the arts should be no different. Your work and your students’ work should be admired publicly and remembered fondly. Celebrating your school’s theatrical achievements shows that you are proud of the work you do and encourages more students to participate in drama class and future productions. So let’s get showcasing!

1. Start a physical archive.

You likely don’t have a ton of room to spare for a huge archive, so be choosy about what physical items you keep. You should keep a show programme, a show poster, and a cast photo print from each show you produce. As well, you can include things like newspaper clippings or printouts from online publicity sources, a photo or two from a special event, any award certificates or adjudications received, and any similar small items you deem important to a particular show. Keep memorabilia to a minimum though; there’s no need to save every piece of paper associated with the show. Keep each show contained to one folder.

Be sure to carefully label any undated or unmarked items so future generations can identify what they’re looking at. For printouts of web articles, write the website address and the date accessed on the paper, as articles often vanish or are re-routed frequently. Store archival items up off the ground in sturdy, weatherproof boxes, rather than in cardboard boxes that can deteriorate or get wet. For bonus points, label the outside of the boxes so you know what items are inside.

For those minimalists who turn up their noses at a physical archive, it’s useful to have a small physical archive because you never know if or when a digital archive might fail, get corrupted, deleted, or lock you out (lost password, anyone?). As well, you can display the archival items for students, faculty, and visitors to view and shift them around whenever you feel your display needs a glow-up. It’s also just a nice feeling to be able to hold a small piece of memorabilia in your hands.

2. Start a digital archive.

Having a digital archive is useful in case your physical archive gets lost or damaged. If possible, use a cloud-based system that can be accessed from anywhere, and keep a backup as well. Again, keep digital versions of show programmes, posters, and photographs properly labelled in dated folders (for example: Fall 2023 – darklight).

Scan copies of any physical memorabilia (photo prints, certificates, etc.) and store them in the appropriate digital folder. This way if the physical copies get damaged, you’ll have electronic backups. You can also devote way more online storage to photos and videos — rehearsal photos and videos, production photos from tech/dress rehearsals, and a video recording of the show, provided your show rights permit you to do so. Keep a digital copy of the cast list with photos so you can easily identify performers as years pass.

You may also want to keep a piece of paper with your digital archive password in your physical archive storage box so that in the future others can access and add to the archive you’ve started.

3. Update your online presence.

If you have a classroom website, get it updated. If your school uses social media, start using it. If your school doesn’t, get on it! Your online presence is like a web-based scrapbook documenting your theatrical endeavours in real time. Share videos and photos of your students and their work, create online events to publicise your shows, try out the latest TikTok trend with your students. Is it extra work? Yes. Can you share the same work across multiple platforms? Again, yes, just sometimes with a bit of tweaking. Every app and website attracts different viewers, and with all the algorithm changes, there’s no guarantee your audiences are actually seeing your posts. There’s nothing wrong with recycling materials. As well, most apps have “Memories” or “This day in…” or archival sections where you can repost content from past years. Use that for throwbacks and highlight the work you’ve done over the years.

4. Create a physical display unit.

If you don’t already have a window display unit or a similar area to show off your students’ work, speak to your administration about allotting one to your drama department. Then freshen it up! Give it a good scrubbing and fill it with photographs, awards, show posters, props from past shows, spirit wear — anything that catches the eye and paints your drama program in a positive light. Update it seasonally or when you’re studying a new unit. Display student work such as student-created masks and props, set models, makeup designs, and rehearsal photographs (get them blown up to 5x7 or 8x10 size). Of course, be sure to display any awards or trophies your shows have received.

You can get creative too. Perhaps you can get a mannequin or dressmaker’s dummy and display a costume designed by a student or worn in a show. Make friends with a talented sewer and have them make your show shirts into a banner or quilt and display that on the wall. Mount cast photos on the centre of a large board and have the students write their autographs around the outside. (That might be worth money on eBay someday!) Above all, have fun, be creative, and take pride in the work you and your drama students have done. You deserve it!

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The Production Publicity Toolkit

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In the school market, you rarely have a marketing budget. But you have a lot of resources for publicity. You have social media, your students, community outreach, and more. The Production Publicity Toolkit can help you create the awareness and attention your production deserves.

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