As an instructor it is important for me to instill a strong foundation of basics and a variety of ever-evolving techniques and approaches in acting and directing in my students. A strong foundation provides a platform to spring off of into unexpected realms, and when needed they have a touchstone to return to. It is imperative that students are given tools to assist them in discovering and creating a process to create their artistic product whether that be acting, directing, or collaborating with designers. At the core of their process it is important that they learn that work ethic, desire, diverse knowledge, practice, and collaborating with and awareness of others is important for their success.
My approach relies on enthusiasm in inspiring students to understand the importance of what they learn as well as how it connects to the world outside of the school walls. I find it important to take the time to be cognizant of what students invest in outside of the classroom and find ways to connect it to the curriculum. It is my job to help them discover their passion and how it can be utilized in a myriad of ways. Creating a safe, open, and compassionate atmosphere in the classroom that allows students the opportunity to risk and express themselves is incalculable. Students who recognize their own potential, feel empowered. Students who feel safe and secure tend to bring more to the table. For student retention of learning and further understanding of the processes spoken about in class I utilize student reflection through both journaling and daily observations.
Transparency and clarity is important in the classroom environment. I provide detailed syllabi, rubrics and handouts with objectives and grading procedures to identify the specific learning targets for students. While grading in the arts can be semi-subjective, in providing detailed rubrics the students can also self-assess. When instructing acting I primarily use techniques based in Stanislavski, but pull from Anne Bogart, Uta Hagen, Laban, Augusto Boal, and others in conjunction with Marina Caldarone’s Actions: The Actors’ Thesaurus. I provide a full body and vocal warmup based on a variety of techniques including Fitzmaurice, Lessac, and Houfek/A.R.T for the voice, and a combination of stretching techniques used in modern dance, ballet and yoga at the beginning of each class. A detailed warmup not only helps focus students but assists them in understanding that acting requires a full body investment. Students focus on fleshing out a character through a detailed character and given circumstance analysis. In instructing both directing and acting it is important to take time to observe the construction of the script in order to take full advantage of what the material has to offer.
When teaching directing for theatre students of all disciplines it is important to provide a foundation in script analysis. Utilizing such texts as: A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing by William Ball, Script Analysis for Actors, Directors and Designers by James Thomas, and Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays by David Ball provides students an approach in bringing a play from the page to the stage and communicating the needs of a play to a team of collaborators. It is crucial that all future theatrical professionals understand that theatre is a team sport and at the root is the ability to collaborate and communicate with all members of a creative team for a successful outcome. I reference Robert Cohen’s Working Together in Theatre: Collaboration and Leadership as an example of collaboration.
In order to help students consider a broader picture in terms of creating work I continuously encourage students to be a patron of other artistic and social experiences outside of their own. As a theatre educator, it is my goal to help students gain cultural and social awareness while becoming lifelong lovers and supporters of the arts. The arts give students the opportunity to explore multiple subjects providing endless cross-curricular studies in core subjects as well as other art forms. Theatre is valuable tool for improving empathy, poise, confidence, leadership, communication, public speaking, and research skills. It is one of the few disciplines that provides students with the opportunity to utilize all seven intelligences: linguistic (through analyzing text structure), spatial (movement and set design), kinesthetic (dance and movement), interpersonal (studying character to character connections, given circumstances, and production team work), intrapersonal (through the delivery of dialogue and through the study of the internal monologue), musical (when working on a musical or a piece that is infused with music to support movement) and logical/mathematical (through set design, technical direction, costume construction, grant writing, and business management). It has been proven in the K-12 system that students who participate in the arts, or who are exposed to a curriculum rich in the arts, tend to have higher standardized test scores, higher critical thinking and problem solving skills, higher attendance, and an overall higher academic performance.
Instructor: University of Wisconsin - Madison: Theatre and Drama 150 - Introduction to Acting (2012 - Present)
Certification: Nebraska (Theatre 7 - 12)
South Dakota 7 - 12: Drama & Theatre, Composition/Grammar, Literature, Speech/Debate, Mass Communcations
Middle School Language Arts
Rapid City Central High School
Myth and Symbol
High School 101 (Department Head)
Student Teaching - Rapid City Central High School:
Drama I, Drama II, Introduction to Stage Craft,
and Advanced Theatre Placement
Rapid City Stevens High School (after school program):
2009/10 and 2010/11: Assistant Director, Technical Director, Choreographer, Set/Prop/Costume/Lighting Design.
Director - State One Act, Superior Award, Alice in Wonderland - 2011
Rapid City Central High School:
Assisted with: costuming, publicity, dialect work, set, properties and the CHS Players - the largest after school club in South Dakota.
Chadron High School:
Directed and choreographed three annual musicals; assisted with technical aspects.
Chadron Middle School:
Started Chadron Middle School Drama Club
Prima School of Dancing
Drama for Dancers (Age 6 - 18)
Musical Theatre Intermediate (Age 6 - 12)
Musical Theatre Advanced (Age 13 - 18)
Education & Outreach Director
Black Hills Community Theatre
Director, Cherry Street Players, Youth Performance Troupe - Age 7 - 17
Director, The Suzie Cappa Players, Performers with Disabilities
Director, The Well Done Players, Age 65 and up performance troupe
Storybook Island Children's Theatre
Director 2008 - 2012
Every summer the SBICT is host for up to 120 theatre students, ages 6 - 14. Over the course of a week the campers develop a short play, learn the SBICT theme song, theatre vocabulary, etiquette, and improvisational games. The week ends with a performance on the SBICT stage!