Production Teaching Drama

Getting Other Departments Involved in Your Production

Getting other departments involved in your production
Written by Kerry Hishon

Creating a theatrical production is a group effort.

For every student who appears onstage, there are even more students, staff members, and volunteers who help breathe life into the production. Those people are the unsung heroes – they may only appear to the audience as a name in the program, but their contributions are absolutely invaluable. Without the help of a team, the show doesn’t go on.

Other than your own drama students and their parents and friends, what other people can you get involved in your production? Why not leverage the talents of the other teachers and departments within your school? Obviously the course offerings at each school are different. But, no matter what classes your school offers, look for any resources you can. You have an entire building full of people – both staff and students – whose talents could be a massive help to your show.

Here are some examples:

  • English/Language Arts/Journalism: playwriting, dramaturgy, script analysis
  • Languages (French, Spanish, and so on): accent coaching, translations
  • Music: musical direction and coaching, participating as the show’s pit band/orchestra, adding a choral ensemble
  • History: studying the time period of the show’s setting, creating background information packages for the participants, advising on historical accuracy for sets, props, costumes, and character development
  • Visual Art: design and creation of sets and props, scenic painting, poster and program design
  • Business: show selection, creating a budget, marketing and publicity, running box office/concessions/front of house
  • Communication Technology: show photography, headshots, creating video projections or publicity trailers, graphic design, advertising, poster and program design, operating sound and lights
  • Fashion/Textiles: designing/creating/sewing costumes
  • Esthetics: hair and makeup
  • Technology: designing sets
  • Shop: building sets
  • Co-operative Education: students could receive hands-on learning about many different aspects of putting on a show, depending on the aim of their co-op placement
  • Volunteer Hours Requirements: some schools require their students to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours to obtain their high school diplomas. The drama teacher could sign off on volunteer hours amassed doing work on a theatrical production.

I’m sure there are lots of other ideas that your students could come up with! As a class, brainstorm how different school departments could get involved with the show. Then, create an “ask” letter on how to approach them. Consider the following:

  • What department are you approaching?
  • What area do you want them to assist with?
  • What specific tasks do you want them to complete?
  • When do you need the tasks completed by?
  • What are the benefits to the department and/or students for participating?
  • How can you make this project useful/helpful for them? (Meaning – what’s in it for them?)
Here’s a sample letter:

Dear Ms. Jenson,

We wanted to reach out to you to ask if some members of your Grade 10 Communications class would be interested in assisting our Grade 10 drama class in creating the playbill for our upcoming showcase performance. We are looking for a four-page colour program that includes our poster on the cover, a director’s note, the full cast and crew listing, as well as some performance photos. We would provide you with all the necessary information by March 30, and would need the final draft by April 22.

We think this would be a great opportunity for your students to practice their skills using Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher. Perhaps you would consider this project for extra credit towards your class. We have seen examples of the work that your students produce and know they would be able to create a program that looks polished and professional. As well, we would be happy to give the students complimentary tickets to any of our performances (April 30-May 2).

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,
John McMannis & Chelsea Swinton
(Mr. Connor’s Grade 10 Drama class)

Click here for a free Reflection.

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

Looking for a play your performers will love? Search our play catalogue here!

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.