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In Search of Theater for Teen Actors…just my thoughts

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Okay, so where does director of faith-based theater go to research and find good material for H.S. students? After piling through sketch and play sites and a few other resources, I am considering the following: We need writers for high school aged actors (sketches and plays)… ones that will commit to writing the stories that matter to them! I need to write. Today, high school people are more sophisticated and wiser (worldly-wise) than ever before. My experience, after being back in the classroom is this: They won’t do corny.  They won’t do obvious. They won’t do things that seem immature-childish scenarios, story-lines, sketches or plays.  “Not-ever-going-to-happen in my lifetime…” as one teen informed me. They will do funny, if it’s truly funny. They will do serious work if they find it addressing a story that is true enough to be lived out by them or other teens around them. They don’t mind being the messengers.  They will work. They will show up and rehearse.  They’ll open up their own stories for the telling. I find it more than interesting that young adult fiction books (series)—read and enjoyed by teens—have become successful movies over the last several years: “The Fault In Our Stars” (John Green), “Divergent”, “The Hunger Games”. I personally have been moved by these stories and movies. The characters are brave and courageous—heroes and heroines—in their living and in their dying. Also, interesting to note, is the futuristic reality of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant (Veronica Roth) and the Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins). As a parent of a teen, a teacher and a theater arts director of teens, I am asking the question—“What is speaking so loudly to their hearts, minds and souls in these works?”… “How can I enter this dialogue and could I be a part of helping them tell the stories that matter to them?” The best way to do this, if teens are in your life, is to ask questions and create an open dialogue. Ask them at a time when they are open. “When’s that?!  The door is always closed,” you might be thinking. I find some of the best time is in the car on the way home or to places, after dinner or a dinner-out time, the last moments of the day before they retire. Let them talk… tell their story. This is not your time to philosophize-criticize-moralize…interrupt. Simply listen and open your ears. Ask open-ended questions. And make sure you are ready for some questions to come back your way. If you want to write for them, you must get inside their stories and find out what is hard, challenging, crazy, hopeful, joyous, important, etc., to them. With their permission, hurry to your laptop, journal, yellow pad and write as many notes as you can remember… And then when you get to the place of writing, ask them to be a part of the critique team.  They love that—critiquing us! Call or write me about your thoughts on writing for teens…...

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Re-Story Theater 2014-15 & Your Art-filled Summer

Posted by in Connection, Creativity, Storytelling, Teaching, Theater | 0 comments

  “Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.” -from a poem by Alan Alda   My H.S. Drama One class has ended and in a great way—a melodrama by Craig Sodaro, “Wait ‘Til The Sun Shines Nellie”! It’s been fun to see timid, apprehensive, quiet students blossom into confident and capable actors and servant-artists.  And for those that possessed drama skills already, there was a refining of them that may have even surprised them. We are all different after this year of Drama One. RE-STORY THEATER 2014-15! Next year, I am bringing my troupe—Re-Story Theater—back to life.  And I have decided it will be a H.S. troupe, supplemented with young adult and sage and crafted actors.  Could there be a better partnering—teens and crafted actors? I am convinced H.S. people need a place to rise above what we think they can do.  At the H.S. level there’s an offering of classes, a musical, the night of one-acts, or a dramatic play, but where do we send H.S. people to train and grow as actors… actors that want to give a sacred message away? I think there is a need for a Re-Story Theater troupe of high school aged actors. My desire is to have a team trained in improvisational theater which will perform shows with their partnering seasoned actors on a regular basis.  As skill and time allows, we will work sketches into these shows. Who knows, we may supplement the shows with other skills and talents such as music, dance, art.  We will see what God brings to our team of actors… My other hope for this team is that we will produce a Christmas play, to be performed in December of 2014.  I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, but when was the last time you watched a production where teens were the main storytellers?  Right.  I couldn’t either. If you are an interested teen or you are the parent or friend of a potentially interested teen (and living in the L.A. area), go to my website page where there are details and full description of Re-Story Theater  – http://rightsideupstories.com/re-story-troupe-membership/. Let’s talk!  Feel free to send me an email or give me a call, too. My contact info is on that page. Homeschool parents are often looking for a Drama elective for H.S. credit.  There is a strong possibility that we, together, could make this work for your son or daughter. The rest of us will wait, with anticipation, for news about Re-Story Theater!  You will be the first to know about it… Make it an Art-full Summer! I hope the summer that has begun will be bathed in stories.  Make a habit of visiting the public library on a regular basis. Look for their summer reading program for children. And libraries have air-conditioning! Why not see a play or a musical, visit a museum, or an art gallery …how about taking an art class,...

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Protected: RSUS Bulletin Board

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Grace Brock, Joan of Arc, monologue from George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan”

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Shakespeare & The American H.S. Drama Student

Posted by in Storytelling, Teaching, Theater | 0 comments

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” –William Shakespeare   Remember way back in August when I shared of how I would be teaching a H.S. theater class, once again?  Every Friday, I teach a group of 15 H.S. students. It’s been a good year, so far! And a very stretching one for all of us. For me, it has been the reusing of old muscles and building back strength.  And for most of my students it has been the building of new muscles. They’re a wonderfully creative group of teens.  Some are timid and shy, some are bold and outspoken, some are in between those two extremes, but all of them are willing to risk self to step into character and story.  They are my favorite blend for a class. They are all growing in their knowledge of theater and they are growing as individuals.  And I am doing my best to stay just a bit ahead of them! Sometimes, I just want say, “FREEEZE!” and stop the class so I can capture the moment. Facial expression is one of my favorite ways that the actor communicates on the stage. Some of my treasured facial expressions, from a teacher’s POV, have been the surprise of discovery, the “I did it!” and my personal favorite—“I have a better one in me, Mrs. B.” In April they will take their skills to the stage and we will do a play within a play kind of show.  The show is entitled, “Shakespeare & The American H.S. Drama Student”.  Dear Shakespeare is mentioned in several of our comedy sketches, some of his best monologues are shared along with other great theatrical works such as Shaw, Twain, Wilder, Hugo, Miller, Williams and a few poets and storytellers thrown in for good measure.  We are hoping Shakespeare will show up (wink-wink)! The information is listed here on my website and tickets for the two nights are available in my store.  The ticket price (very low) includes a delicious coffee and dessert too (Click Here for Tickets). High School students are worth our investment of time as they give away from themselves in sports, speech and debate, music, art, and theater.  It’s always nice to walk across the street, so to speak, and support another school’s efforts in the arts. Come join my students (and me) on April 11th  or 12th  (Buy Tickets Now). God bless the Story you’re living out today!...

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Workshops Shape Vision and Bring Hope

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In a culture that can’t seem to find its common narrative, we found one as we risked embarrassment, misunderstanding and fear as we shared our own personal stories that day…   My January Storyday—“The Power of Storytelling and Spoken Word”—was powerful and meaningful for its participants, including its speaker-teacher. Every age was represented, from teenager to senior. We gathered up from central California to San Diego, and added Kansas and South Africa in for contrast and depth.  It was seven plus hours of teaching, partnering, discussions, coffee, lunch, coffee, media, and some writing and gathering onto paper what began to come forward like butterflies needing a net. I, once again, witnessed the way workshops shape and shift the participants. Workshops affirm and clarify goals and direction. They create a synergism—a community of like minds and hearts come together.  Workshops bring hope and future to the doorstep of our lives.  The knock is so loud, you can’t help but let it all in.  And what a bunch of stuff it leaves on the living room floor! However, you do find a way to sort it out later. Several participants from the Storyday have shared of their sorting.  I am in awe of their steps to use the teachings, promptings and encouragement. All credit goes to them. I have participated in many writing and storytelling workshops.  Some felt like big fat commercials for the speaker-teacher.  And then there were those that I took to heart and I went home and applied them to work and ministry. They are so familiar to me, still. I can remember the room, where I was sitting, and these moments where personal stories and application brought the teaching up close and personal. The knock on my door was loud, very. One of the decisions I made at my January Storyday was this—I will do more Storydays and I will do them more regularly. I have two that have come to mind: “Developing the Artist Within” and “The Creative Process of Writing—Finding and Keeping the Tools Sharp”.  And I am thinking early May. Send me some feedback on these please.  I’d love to know your thoughts. More to come on this. Until then, may the story you live out today change someone. I know it can…...

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November 2013 – Newsletter

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MOVING FROM LABOURER TO CRAFTSMAN TO ARTIST

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He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist. —Saint Francis of Assisi   This was the first quote that I wrote on the board for my Drama One students.   It went in their new and empty Actor’s Journal.  It’s a composition book where they are to relate their growth, challenges, ah-hah moments, and general thoughts about being a student-actor. It’s also a place they log their rehearsals.  And, from time to time, I will collect them and check them.  Mostly, to see if they are thinking and processing.   I think their Actor’s Journal will prove to be a great measuring stick for where they were in September of 2013 and where they will have ended up at the close on our class in June of 2014.   I have decided that I need to keep a journal as well, for I am growing as a teacher-coach.  I am spreading my wings creatively.  I am working hard as a teacher.  I had forgotten how much teachers do for their students. The prayers and hopes that go into preparing for each teaching moment are immeasurable.  Teachers are awesome people!   To be honest, not every student is as interested in the subject of drama and really don’t care that it very likely will change their lives.  “Hey, I am just fulfilling elective credits… Seems like an easy A.”  And that’s really okay.   What they don’t know yet is what I know—a theater class changes people.  My H.S. theater class changed my life.  Mrs. Cooney, my theater arts teacher, changed my life.  It was my senior year of college and a required class for the musical.  From then on, theater was a part of my life… and eventually, my ministry and calling.   In fact, taking an acting class, a theater course, an improv or storytelling workshop changes a person. In a 3 hour evening class or a 6-8 hour workshop day, amazing things happen in a person. One leaves a class/workshop euphoric, hope-filled, and bursting with creativity. I know my students have grown some dendrites, made some friends, and for some, they have found the found something powerful—the artist within them.   I am going to be leading a Storytelling and Spoken Word (…for the Artist, Speaker, Teacher, Preacher)  Workshop, in January  25th, 2014, at my studio in Sierra Madre, CA. It you’re interested in this class, could you email me today at melea@rightsideupstories.com and I will get you on the information list and you’ll be the first to know the date and all the forthcoming details.  Come take a creative and artistic leap with me!   And remember: “He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.” (St. Francis aka Giovanni Bernadone Morosini!)  ...

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Heading Back to School…and Back to the Classroom!

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I said, “Yes.” Yes, to teaching Drama One to high school people, once again. I am excited about this. I am nervous about this. I am qualified for this. Are teachers better teachers years later? Yes. Why? Because of accumulated knowledge and tons of practical experience. I have never really stopped teaching. I lead workshops, coach and mentor artists, direct and produce shows. Plus, I have raised a teen and I am raising a teen. Teenagers no longer bring fear and dread as they once did when I was about 26 and 38 years old. They bring compassion to my soul. And that compassion makes me want to be a better teacher because they are worth it. Really? Really. I may have more gray hairs and few more laugh lines, but I can improv my way out of a paper bag and out-imagine most teens and young adults I know. So bring it! My goals for them: Drop the phone. Make a friend you’d never have outside of this class. Experience learning by doing, rather than facebooking and instagramming it. Dare yourself to play a character outside your age, your choices, your emotions and first instincts and see what happens. I can promise them they will not be the same people in 8 months. I know I won’t be the same because of them. ********************** When was the last time you went backwards to go forwards in your gift, your calling, your passion? That’s what I am doing. I am brushing off files, pouring through books, preparing lesson plans, a syllabus and curriculum objectives, searching for scenes and monologues, developing lecture notes. And it doesn’t even feel like work! And I am lovin’ it. I will check in with you later about all this. And I will let you know when my students start performing. Once I get them going on Improv, they will likely want to join me in a workshop. Which reminds me, a Fall “Improv a Story” Workshop date will be set very soon! As always, the story you live out today just might change someone… Melea   PROFESSIONAL STORYTELLER Website A Network for People Who Work in the Field of Storytelling http://professionalstoryteller.ning.com/ 24-7 Storytelling Station on-line called “A World of Storytelling” http://www.live365.com/stations/storytellingradio .  They kindly feature some of my stories and hundreds of other famous and nearly-famous storytellers from around the...

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A Better Storyteller in Five Ways

Posted by in Gifts of Story, Storytelling | 0 comments

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. Matthew 13:34 Know Your Audience—Who will I be telling to in this moment? What makes this group unique? How do they hear story? Find out as much as you can about your audience. They will cease to be strangers as you enter into that moment of storytelling. Prepare and Pray—The best storyteller is the one that has prepared. Rehearse with your whole body before a mirror. Believing the story versus knowing a story translates to an audience in any culture. When I believe the story with my whole heart, not just my head, I communicate it differently.  You’ve prepared… now pray and release this story to The Great Storyteller! Show and Tell—Hearing a story dramatically told is amazing!  So what else can we offer our audience that will allow them to see, taste, hear, smell and feel? Sensory memory is powerful and Jesus used it as a storyteller. Try a bag of seeds for The Parable of the Sower, red grapes to eat for The Tenants and the Vineyard, an invitation for each person for The Great Banquet. You think of one! Let them talk and you listen—A storyteller learns a great deal when she/he allows their audience to reflect on the story just told to them.  Directed-reflection respects the listener and echoes back to them the story shared. We can pick up cultural nuances and vital information as we listen to our audience reflect back to us what they heard in the story we told. Bless and Review—As you close a time of story, thank your listeners for their attentiveness and sharing. Afterwards, review your storytelling moment with a trusted listener. Is there something you would modify or change in the next telling? You’ll grow as a storyteller as you allow His shaping of your skills....

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CLEAR THE DESK!

Posted by in Imagination, Storytelling, Writing | 0 comments

“Every artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” -Henry Ward Beecher-  What color has your brush dipped into with this new year's beginning? I posted this on my facebook page close to the first day of January 2013.  It spoke to me deeply when I first read it.  I subscribe to the belief that we are all artists.  Some of spend more time in the studio than others, but that does not qualify us as better artists, just more trained, more practiced. There were many “likes” on that fb entry and some fb friends took the time to express the color they were painting with as the new year began for them. I have a confession, lest you think I am just so brilliant and wonderful and successful.   At the present, I feel like the tip of my paintbrush has every color on it, leaving a grayish globby stroke on the page of my life.  It’s like when you take all the beautiful play do colors and mix them together, which is so fun, but eventually the play do turns gray.  And the play do turns hard and cold because there’s not much possibility in that gray play do. Here’s why it’s gray.  I have too many colors to choose from.  I feel pulled and pushed as an artist.  I long to get to a blank canvas with a simple palette of only two colors, three tops. New fresh years have a way of causing an overwhelm.  There is so much we are restarting, plugging into, taking on, hoping in, wanting to do.  I have said too many “yeses” and very few “no’s”. And eve now as I confess, I can hear a kind and wise mentor–“Clear the desk, Melea.”  Which can be quite a literal task for a writer. Take everything off of that desk.  Now evaluate what goes back on. And so right after I finish this blog entry I am going to clear the desk! LITERALLY. By clearing the desk, I will be able to prioritize what goes back onto this space that will prompt my soul as a writer and storyteller.  It will feed me, propel me, speak to me, ground me. Perhaps, there is some place in your life that needs a “clearing of the desk”… I urge you to not be dismayed by the date of January 20-something.  It is still the new year and you are still an artist with the greatest of possibilities set before you in 2013 Oh, and I am going to throw out the play do and get a new fresh squishy set of colors.  There’s nothing better than the feel and the smell of fresh play do! HAPPY NEW YEAR!  And may the story you live out this year change someone because I know it can…  ...

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