February, 2021 Edition
Identity-Conscious Casting: Moving Beyond Color-Blind and Color-Conscious Casting
by Lavinia Jadhwani and Victor Vazques of Howlround Theatre Commons
Submitted by Gaby Labotka
ITA College Theatre Division Representative

In a follow up to her Master Class: "Creating Identity Conscious Theatre," the Professional Division wanted to share this piece by Lavina Jadhwani who, with casting director Victor Vazquez of X Casting NYC, wrote this piece for HowlRound about Identity Conscious Casting.  The Master Class series continues on February 10th with Arnel Sancianco for Failing Like a Designer, and with Lawyers for the Arts on February 18th discussing Contracts for Theatre Artists. Join us!  
The Hive Mind
by Richard Arnold, ITA College Theatre Division Representative

I see folks tapping into the ‘hive mind’ on Facebook almost every day, “How do I make a camera prop? What is the best way to recreate the Aurora Borealis? I need help with broadcasting our production. I have some extra money, what mic/light/tool should I buy?” Of course, we are all happy to add our two cents. That is what theatre is about – collaboration. Also, when we answer those questions, we have the opportunity to brag a little about our own successes. It certainly feels good to pass on a little of what we have learned through our own experiences. Perhaps ITA can help expand the 'hive mind'.
Finding the Fun: Blood Recipes
by Elisabeth Westphal
ITA Creative Drama Division Representative

A light-hearted look at making stage blood.
Chicago Children's Theatre Pivots to Animated Short for Timely Tale of Diamond's Dream
by Mary Houlihan of the Sun-Times
Submitted by Cassandra Quin
ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative

TYA at its best is deeply relevant and easily accessible to the lived experiences of its audience and Diamond's Dream from Chicago Children's Theatre has managed to do both during the time of a pandemic with its Virtual Puppet Show that debuted last month.

Diamond’s Dream, created by Jerrell L. Henderson (writer-director) and Caitlin McLeod (puppets and set design), felt the most immediate and relevant.

“Jerrell has his finger on the pulse of what is happening today and amazingly weaves together racism, pandemics, and history into a relatable story,” she says.

Debuting Jan. 18 on CCT’s YouTube channel, Diamond’s Dream, presented as a toy theater piece, tells the story of a young African American boy who falls asleep on the Red Line train while on the way to visit his grandmother who is dying of COVID-19. When he wakes, he finds himself in another reality and confronted by the spirit of a young African American girl who died of the Spanish Flu in 1918.

Not covered in the Sun-Times Article, but relevant to this production: 
  • Virtual performance runs through May 21, 2021
  • CCT website says,  "Diamond’s Dream is available to educators free of charge. We welcome you to use the lesson plan provided. Script available on request. Do not hesitate to reach out with questions to Dexter Ellis, Director of Education and Community Programs at dexter@chicagochildrenstheatre.org."

In 2021 You Can't Pretend Digital Theatre Isn't Here Anymore
by Ricky and Dana Young-Howze from The Young-Howze Theatre Journal
Submitted by Don Shandrow
ITA Community Theatre Division Representative

Due to the unfortunate events of this past year, in order to survive, theatres need to start thinking of themselves as media companies. Digital theatre has become a successful way to grow an audience, fundraise and reach people who may have seen theatre as inconvenient. Publishers are making accommodations and new works are being written specifically for live-streaming. Digital theatre has democratized theatre by de-emphasizing the importance of a large space. Will this continue even as the pandemic subsides? The feeling of the authors who are theater critics is that everyone associated with the theatrical experience may be suffering by disregarding this digital phenomenon.
A 24 Hour Play Festival Fundraiser
by Jessica Harms, Educational Theatre Association
Submitted by Nathaniel Haywood
ITA Secondary School Theatre Division Representative

Working with a team against the clock, using all of your collective skills to make it across the finish line and present your work for eagerly awaiting spectators? No, we’re not talking about sports – we’re talking about theatre! A unique theatrical opportunity for theatre directors, theatre students, and audiences – the 24 Hour Play Festival.

As our pandemic-influenced, partially virtual school year progresses, high school theatre programs are continuing to feel the strain – in both budget and student participation. Many schools have switched from live theatre to recorded in-person performances or completely online Zoom shows, often with minimal to no ticket intake. As theatre educators continue to do everything they can to provide authentic and meaningful theatrical opportunities for their students, the reality is that many programs are struggling with the lack of income and the potential for less opportunities for their students. The 24 Hour Play Festival is a creative and quick way to address both issues.

This straightforward article lays out the planning and implementation of a 24 Hour Play Festival for use in a high school theatre program, with easily understood and adaptable steps that will allow you to tailor it to the needs of your students and program. It’s a high interest form of theatre that can also easily be adapted to present online to accommodate whatever COVID protocols are in place for your program, and can serve as a great fundraiser to help offset struggles due to this unusual year.
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