Teaching Drama

Finding Theatrical Opportunities Outside the Drama Classroom

Finding Theatrical Opportunities Outside the Drama Classroom
Written by Kerry Hishon

When you’ve reached the end of the semester or completed your school show, it’s likely your students will be dealing with some post-show blues or wondering – what is the next step?

Hopefully they will have been bitten by the theatre bug and will want to continue on studying drama! (If so, get them signed up immediately for the next level of drama classes.) Perhaps they have aspirations of getting a bigger role in next year’s production. Maybe they have discovered a love for technical theatre and want to gain more experience in the booth or backstage. Or maybe they are now considering studying theatre in university or college.

No matter their reason for wanting to continue on with their theatrical studies, as drama teachers we definitely need to encourage our students to keep challenging themselves and pursuing more theatrical opportunities. However, we also need to give students different ideas of where to start, and help them to see opportunities outside of simply working on a show or taking drama classes. Theatre has so many transferable skills that can be used outside of shows, and there are many different avenues that students can pursue.

It’s time for students to look outwards, and learn how their newfound skills can be used, refined, developed, and practiced, to help them with their theatrical or other pursuits.

Challenge your students to brainstorm ideas of places and situations where they could find or create theatrical opportunities for themselves outside of the drama classroom.

Encourage your students to think beyond just performance ideas. Performing is great of course, but don’t forget about the technical and backstage parts of theatre as well. Being well-rounded and having a variety of theatrical skills will help your students go far!

Where do I start?

To help your students get into the mindset of transferable skills, have them read these blog posts: What Skills Do You Need to Work on a Show? and Getting Other Departments Involved in Your Production. Encourage them to create connections between the skills they use in the drama classroom and skills they use in the “real world.” Then, start brainstorming!

Here are some ideas for your students to try out, to keep their creative juices flowing and grow their theatrical skills while they wait for next year’s drama class:

  • Assist with school assemblies (setting up and taking down technical aspects such as sound, lights or microphones, operating the sound board during the assembly)
  • Participate with the school’s radio station (as a technician or on-air personality)
  • Read the morning announcements
  • Join the school’s debate team or model parliament to practice their public speaking skills
  • Sing the National Anthem during assemblies or sports events
  • Join the school choir or dance team
  • Take private vocal lessons
  • Enroll in dance classes
  • Audition or volunteer for a community theatre production
  • Shadow a particular role of interest (such as director or stage manager) for a local production
  • Pursue a part-time job (such as ushering or working in the box office) or co-op position with a local theatre
  • Apply for a summer camp counselor position for a local arts or theatre camp
  • Write their own original play or musical, or adapt a favourite movie or television show into a stage production
  • Take a class or workshop on a theatrical area they’d like to learn more about, such as improvisation, mime, or clowning
  • Study and practice different styles of stage makeup and special effects looks and creating an Instagram account to share their work
  • Research different historical fashion styles and creating mood boards on Pinterest (or even take a stab at sewing a costume!)
  • Take a fencing or martial arts course to help develop their stage combat skills
  • Read a new play each month

Each school and city will have its own theatrical scene (or lack thereof), so this exercise will be completely different in each drama classroom. Have a colleague do this exercise with their class as well, and compare both classes’ answers. Perhaps you will open up opportunities to other drama students, or discover opportunities that you never thought of.

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Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.