Teaching Drama

Hey! Stop!

Set up NCTAE 2011

September not only marks the start of school for many, it’s the start of conference season here at Theatrefolk headquarters. Fall is our busiest travel season, we’re headed to North Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Ontario, back to Florida, Arizona and Texas.

The psychology of the set up of the conference booth set up is fascinating…. or maddening depending on the day. It takes a lot more than throwing some catalogues on a table to attract the attention of the passing by participant, especially if you’re an unknown quantity. And Theatrefolk is still very much an unknown quantity. Our time on the planet has been rather short compared to others like Samuel French. And our plays don’t have the known hook of Broadway or Miller and Mamet.

Set up TETA 2011

When we can get someone to STOP, we can tell them who we are and what we do. That alone, is enough to get them to consider our scripts. And then after that, it’s a pure subjective experience – either they like what they read or they don’t. Either it’s suitable for their students or it’s not. And that’s perfectly fine. I just want them to STOP.
These are not complaints, they’re just things to consider when we set up our booth and how we present ourselves. And the essence of what we need to do is get people to STOP.

Set up Missouri 2009

Easier said that done. Really. If you’re unknown, why would anyone stop for you? Why would they even
 look at you? There is no reason they should. (well I think they should, and it gets me all worked up when they don’t, but that’s my problem not theirs) It’s our job to let them know (short of tackling them) why they should STOP.
We’ve set up our booth many different ways over the years, (some times we change mid conference) with many different STOP techniques. We’ve tried giveaways, candy, sales, big signs, videos, Wal-mart like greetings, sitting, standing, a u-shaped booth, a t-shaped booth, a V-shaped booth, it goes on and on. At least half of our STOPS have failed. Actually, it’s more like three-quarters. Really. That’s the way it is, if we don’t try we don’t know. Sure it hurts when we put a lot of effort into our STOP and find out on the first day that it’s not going to work. But trying is better than sitting around not doing anything.

Set Up Utah Theatre Association

Add to that, we’ve tried techniques that others have tried and find they just don’t work for us. Giveaways are lovely, but pens or buttons just don’t say anything about who we are. And candy can bring them in but they usually don’t stay. If we’re going to give something away, we want it to say something about us long after the delegate takes it home.

Set up Florida Thespians

But here at Theatrefolk global headquarters, we’re rather stubborn. We know what we have is worthy if we can just get someone to STOP. So we go on. We try again. We’re raring to go.

Another conference season is upon us, and another round of STOP techniques. What we’re really focusing on is who we are, who our customers our and what we can do for them. And that means our STOP technique has to focus on an educational bent. And if we’re going to give something away, it has to be something resourceful and useful for drama teachers. Like Emergency Lesson plans. Yeah, that’s good. Let’s try that. We’re incredibly optimistic, and that’s the only way we can be. Failure is only bad if you don’t learn something. And we’re pretty good at learning from our mistakes and changing the game up.

So. Our table is set. We’re standing, not sitting. Our wares are shiny as our our smiles. Hey, it’s the start of the season, everything’s shiny! Here we go….

About the author

Lindsay Price