Check back often as offerings will be continually updated!
We are also offering Professional Development Units for attending the conference.
Workshops for 2023 Conference
Rebuilding Community and Social-Emotional Skills in the Theatre Classroom – Jonas Basom
The pandemic has eroded our student’s social skills, group awareness, motivation, and creative expression. Come experience fun and effective strategies and activities that will rebuild these skills through the use of engaging routines & procedures, signals & cues, partnering & grouping, and space management for whole group participation. Enhance your teacher talk and skill dealing with challenging personalities and behaviors. Most of all, relight the spark of the joy of creative expression in yourself and your students!
Illuminating the Chase – Jeff Bengford
Every director approaches their project in their own way. But in most well-written plays there is a chase to be discovered, plotted and pursued. In this Directing Workshop, we will work together to identify a conflict and explore “the chase” and see how it can define the actor’s character goals and influence their physical and vocal choices.
Improvisation = Educational Play! – Autumn Browne
Theatre games build key theatrical and 21st century skills, including focus, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and much more, all in a fun, non-threatening way. Together, we will explore the value of theatre games through the lens of improv.
Strategic Planning for Your Theatre Program – Krista Carson Elhai
We will start with an analysis of your program-what’s working, what makes money, what brings in a large audience, how do you connect your program with your community? We will then create a 6-month, 1-3-5-year strategic plan which will include a department mission statement, how to communicate your vision, and how the design of your season can fulfill many of your goals. Participants will walk away with a blueprint for taking your program to the next level.
Integrated digital scenery is a rapidly growing art form across the theater industry. Any form of video or digital image used in a live performance, moving or still, displayed via a projector, a TV, or LED wall, can help bring a new, creative layer to your production. Learn from industry professionals about ways to incorporate this technology into theatrical productions and performances, and how to use the power of negative space and suggestive design to maximize the theatrical space.
I’m Not a Playwright But I Want to Teach Playwriting – Jonathan Dorf
Not every student in your program wants to perform or relishes working on the production team. Maybe what makes their eyes light up is the prospect of writing a play. But what do you do if playwriting wasn’t part of your training? In fact, maybe the prospect of teaching it scares you to death. With this workshop, not only will you get a crash course in how to teach playwriting, but you’ll get a framework for how to integrate it into your theatre program. www.jonathandorf.com
New Theatre Teachers: What are their questions and what do they need to know? – Eric Engdahl
A panel of veteran theatre teachers and first- and second-year theatre teachers will discuss what new educators need to know and the challenges they face. This panel is intended to encourage intergenerational dialogue and to build a community of practice among theater educators. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Eric Engdahl.
Folk Lore: Knowledge and Wisdom in the language of Black Playwrights – Kathryn Ervin
An exploration of ways that proverbial and street language provide background and understanding in Black plays.
The Work Begins With Us: Using Theatre Tools to Build Inclusive Classrooms — H. Adam Harris
Join H. Adam Harris for a workshop that encourages participants to investigate their own identity and its impact on their work and lives. Creating an anti-racist classroom and curriculum begins with incisive thinking about your own experience. With the tools of theater, we will discuss and practice ways to ensure harm reduction, harm prevention, and harm repair. Participants can expect to:
- Investigate their own identity as a launching point to engaging with others.
- Identify and discuss anti-racist ideas/practices to foster equitable classrooms.
- Process strategies to navigate moments of harm.
- Practice using tools to hold ourselves/others accountable with compassion and honesty.
QLab: One GO Button to Rule them All – Kyle Holmes
In this workshop we will be hands-on, looking at everything QLab can do to revolutionize your production tech. We will build cues from scratch, answer questions, and examine how a single GO button for every sound, projection and lighting cue makes for a much tighter show, and a lot less anxiety.
Transforming Your Program Through Script Study – Kyle Holmes
Look, introducing your students to scripts can be daunting, especially after weeks of performing and working on your feet. I’m here to tell you that you can do it, and that your students will grow tremendously as artists and as an inclusive community because of it. We’ll cover how to introduce scripts, how to work through them as a class, activities and exercises they’ll love throughout, and summative assessments that will make English teachers insanely jealous. Whether you’re starting slow with Our Town or jumping into the deep end with VietGone, we’ll cover best practice and speed bumps along the way.
Standards-Based Grading in the Arts Classroom – Shaun Klaseus
Standards-based grading can make your grades more equitable, accurate, and motivational. Many schools and districts have been transitioning to Standards-based grading, but rarely have any resources for how it would work in an arts classroom. No Participation Points? Accepting late work with NO PENALTY? Only recording summative grades? Assignments can’t be given a grade lower than 50%, even if the assignment is missing? In this workshop we will spend a little time understanding the reasoning behind this pedagogy and a lot of time on sharing best practices for an arts classroom, including: rubrics, scope and sequences, grade books, and ways to motivate students when participation points are off the table.
Elevating Student Voices in K-8 Theatre Classrooms – Starry Krueger
This workshop will give you tools to intentionally build community through theatre warm ups, games and co-creating characters and scripts with students. These tools give students ownership in the creative process and empower them to see themselves, and each other, as the heroes of their own stories. Resources will be shared for integrating social emotional learning and literacy skills as well as tips for placing your theatre program at the heart of your school community.
Engagement, Discovery, Fire! – Laurie Kurnick & Raul Herrera
We plan a dynamic interactive workshop in which we introduce our Get Lit “model” and give a brief overview of how and why it works so well with ALL students – this will include some brief video. Participants will “claim” a poem for themselves from our amazing Get Lit Anthology, (curated every year – includes poems by writers like Terrance Hayes, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Acevedo and Kendrick Lamarr). They will write a brief response to that poem (with some guidelines from us), and finally, brave volunteers will share their work with peers! If time, we will work with choral poetry reading.
Shining a New Light: Supporting the Social – Emotional & Artistic Needs of Diverse Theatre Learners – Chantrell Lewis
The goal of this professional development workshop is to give theatre educators an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the intersectionality of performing arts education and social-emotional development in youth. During this interactive workshop educators will be given the opportunity to strengthen their in-classroom/rehearsal toolbox of supporting the needs of diverse student groups through participation in various exercises, voice/breathwork, and, guided conversation.
Empowering Learning and Laughter Through Drama – Robin Lithgow
This workshop will focus on my book, “Lessons from Shakespeare’s Classroom.” Participants will discover how Shakespeare and thousands of his peers practiced the colloquial Latin required at the time for travelers to communicate with others from all European countries. To learn colloquial (as opposed to formal) Latin, students regularly performed hilarious “colloquies” (short, scripted conversations), written by Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus had the novel idea that learning should be FUN, and participants in this workshop will get plenty of opportunity for that.
Writing Your OWN Darn Play – Michael Ornelas
Workshopping your own work? Not satisfied with the place that are currently out there? Questions on formatting? Selling your work? Those who attend the workshop will be able to direct the focus to their specific questions, wants and needs as writers.
Teaching Tech Theatre as a Non-Tech Teacher – Nicole (Nikki )Parsons
Incorporating tech in your theater class when you’re not a tech person Many theater teachers are the only theater person on campus and are expected to run the entire program by themselves. But what do you do when you don’t have a building/ programming/ sewing background? This workshop will offer tips and tricks, both philosophical and ready to go lessons, for teachers who don’t come with a tech background.
Theatrical Rigging and Fall Protection – Willy J Pate & Mike Scharnell
An examination and discussion of safe practices and industry standards, as well as common and creative solutions, as they relate to rigging challenges in the high school educational world. We will take a look at rigging in unconventional spaces, counterweight rigging systems, truss and chain motors applications, and being safe while exposed to potential fall hazards. See first-hand how this technology is used in a professional setting. This workshop will help expand your working knowledge of this technology, safety basics, and give you valuable skills that can translate into your school space.
CONNECTING TO THE WORLD: Using Process Drama in Rehearsals & Our Theatre Classrooms – Martin Rodriguez + Mollie Lief
In this workshop, participants will explore the method of Process Drama and how it can elevate both the rehearsal process and classroom experience. In Process Drama, the students and teacher – in role – build imagined worlds, navigate conflict and embark on a transformative journey together. This technique inspires improvisation, deepens emotional connection to text and fosters ensemble building. It is one of the most exciting tools a drama teacher can use in both rehearsal and in the theatre classroom
DEI in your theater programming – Lauren Rosi
Learn about the many different facets of DEI from an introductory workshop on how to look at curriculum critically, to more specific focuses like how to integrate cultural competency into your productions.
Let Me Try That Again — Thomas Schultheis
We will explore how we can transform challenging experiences into something new and useful as we learn, celebrate, and reclaim those moments. In this workshop, we will discover a way to process our perceived failures and setbacks. Let Me Try That Again provides an opportunity to begin taking steps toward learning, healing, and expression.
Feeding In: A Rehearsal Technique for ELL & Inclusion – Emily Stamets
What would be possible if your actors never had a script in their hands? Using “feeding in,” a simple strategy developed for Shakespeare performance, your performers can be making eye contact, manipulating props & puppets, and making large movement choices free of their script from the first day of rehearsal. Bonus: they’ll also learn their lines faster!
Developed by Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts, this technique is especially powerful for ESL students, and students for whom translating written words into speech & action is especially difficult: those with reading difficulties, language processing differences, and some forms of neurodivergence.
In this workshop, participants will be on their feet, using the feeding in strategy to rehearse short scenes & monologues. Time will be allowed to discuss and try out applications of the feeding in technique to solve individual challenges faced by participants.
Presenter and Board Bios
Jonas Basom is a Bravo Award winner for Outstanding Arts Educator of Southern California. He is the author of Drama Works! Teaching System (formerly known as The Drama Game File), aligned to the new CA Arts Framework, and adopted as the new theatre arts textbook by the state of Texas. Mr. Basom has trained thousands of teachers as a national consultant presenter for staff development in arts and literacy. He has also trained teachers in drama and arts integration pedagogy as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University, University of Phoenix, and Cal State LA. His classroom teaching experience includes 9 years as a K-5 traveling theatre teacher for LAUSD, and 7 years creating the K-8 drama program for the prestigious Buckley School.
Jeff Bengford has a Masters in Directing (UC Davis) and Bachelors in Theatre (Santa Clara University). He has been teaching Theatre at Westmont High School for over 30 years, directs their productions and serves on the CA State Thespian Board. Mr. B has directed professionally for TheatreWorks, SJ City Lights, Shady Shakespeare & West Valley College. But his proudest accomplishment is Dad & Husband. A few of his published plays are: Space Pirates; Dracula, and an adaptation of a Georges Feydeau farce called Hotel-a-Go-Go. Mr. B believes that theatre develops rich, engaging personalities, changes student’s lives, and inspires audiences.
Autumn Browne received her teaching credential from Chapman University and a Masters in Theatre Production from Central Washington University. She has recently retired after 25 years teaching Drama at Brookhurst Junior High School in Anaheim. OCMMA honored her in 2001 and 2015 as Orange County Theatre Teacher of the Year. In 2021 she received the first ever Jim Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre, and was named CETA’s Outstanding Theatre Educator. In a previous life, she regularly appeared with the improvisation troupe The Comedy Store Players at the famous club on Sunset Boulevard. Now in retirement she is rekindling her acting career!
François-Pierre Couture Originally from Montréal, Canada, François-Pierre Couture has been working in Los Angeles, his adoptive home, and the United States as a scenic, lighting and projection designer since 2006. His multifaceted and dynamic approach to his craft has given him the opportunity to work across multiple environments and venues, in various scales. He is also a full-time professor at East Los Angeles College. His theater designs include: “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” Center Theater Group, “Romeo & Juliette” (Paris) L.A. Dance Project “Metamorphoses” , “Frankenstein”, A Noise Within. “The Present”, “The Future”, “Invisible Tango”, Geffen Playhouse; “Everything that Never Happened”, “With Love and Major Organ”, Boston Court Theatre;; “Destiny of Desire”, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage Theatre, South Coast Repertory & Goodman Theatre; “The Mexican Trilogy, an American History”, Los Angeles Theatre Center; “Carmen Jones”, “Metamorphoses” , “Everything is Illuminated”, Ensemble Theatre Company; www.fpcouture.com
Jason Daunter With over 20 years in the professional theatre Jason’s theatrical credits include: Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird, Meteor Shower, A Doll’s House, Part 2, Shuffle Along, Wicked, Glory Days, and Cyrano De Bergerac. National Tours: A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder, Wicked, Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Christmas Carol. Most recently Jason served as the Production Supervisor and mounted Lonny Price’s new world tour of West Side Story currently touring Europe, Japan, India, and Australia. On the national level, Jason is the recipient of The Educational Theatre Association’s President & Founders Awards. He serves on the California Thespian Board. Jason directed Claremont High School’s production of Distance Learning a commissioned play by Carey Crim to critical acclaim and was presented at the 2021 International Thespian Festival. Jason’s philanthropic work includes creating/producing benefits for The Educational Theatre Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Jason is currently the Executive Producer for BRITE IDEAS – COMPLETE TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Brite Ideas produces and provides technical design and production to corporate and theatrical events ranging from galas to large conferences/events nationwide. #daretodream @jjasondaunter
Jonathan Dorf has authored over 60 plays, including 4 A.M., DECLARATION, AFTER MATH, DEAR CHUCK and ME, MY SELFIE & I, with 2000+ productions worldwide. He co-founded publisher YouthPLAYS and is chair emeritus of the Alliance of LA Playwrights. He has taught in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University and at festivals and schools from Alabama to Singapore, served as US Cultural Envoy to Barbados, created Playwriting101.com and authored the book YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS 101. He is a member of the Teaching Artist Alliance and The Dramatists Guild. BA in Dramatic Writing and Literature, Harvard University; MFA in Playwriting, UCLA. www.jonathandorf.com
Krista Carson Elhai taught theatre for 37 years and directed over 275 productions as Theatre Director at Claremont HS (500 students, 11 sections of theatre) where she took 14 productions to the ITF and CST Festival. She currently supervises student teacher in theatre for CSU, East Bay and is an educational consultant. She sits on The College Board’s Pre-AP Arts Committee, the CA Thespian Board, is Past President of the CA Educational Theatre Association board, is an Educational Theatre Foundation Trustee, and is the President of the Educational Theatre Association’s national board.
Dr. Eric Engdahl teaches Theater and Visual Arts Methods in the teacher credentialing program at CSUEB. He is a company member of Bay Area Playback Theatre, performing in live, hybrid, and virtual formats. He is currently co-editing a special issue of “Issues in Teacher Education” on Artistic Teaching: How do we prepare the arts teaching workforce?.
Kathryn Ervin is a past president and current consultant for the Black Theatre Network and an artist educator and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at California State University San Bernardino. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and Illinois State University. She teaches courses in Directing, Acting, Creative Drama and African American Theatre and Film and Culture. She has directed drama’s, comedies and musicals. Recent work includes; BLACK SUPER HERO MAGIC MAMA, ROWING TO AMERICA, IN THE HEIGHTS, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, KEEP HEDZ RINGIN’ and many others. She is the author with Ethel Pitts Walker of An African American Scenebook.
Raul Herrera, as a Mexican-American spoken-word artist, playwright and educator, has been involved with Get Lit for over 10 years as a Get Lit Player, teaching artist, and current Director of Programming. In 2014 he received the Pentathlon Award, given to the overall speaker at the California State Championship of Speech and Debate. His writing is featured in Get Lit Rising, Coiled Serpent (published by Tia Chucha Press); in 2017 he wrote Dante, a modern Hip-Hop adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, produced by Tim Robbins and the Actor’s Gang Theater. He starred in the feature film Summertime, directed by Carlos Estrada.
Kyle Holmes is an educator, playwright and co-founder of Uproar Theatrics. He spent a decade as a high school theatre director, where he co-authored the California K-12 Standards for Theatre Arts. He currently works with school districts receiving Title I funding to create equitable opportunities in California schools. His original musical, Ranked, has been licensed by over 90 schools across the globe and is the subject of the 2022 HBO documentary “My So-Called High School Rank.” He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP, and a proud alumni of artEquity’s first National Board Training cohort. @kylepholmes/kpholmes.com
Shaun Klaseus received his degree in Directing for the Theatre and his teaching credential from CSULB and has been teaching theater full time since 2006. He has taught all levels from TK – 12. As a school leader, he has spearheaded training other artist educators on his and other campuses on transitioning to Standards-Based Grading. (SBG) He is passionate on utilizing the principals of SBG to make grading more equitable, accurate, and motivational.
Starry Krueger is a San Diego-based teacher, playwright and director. She is the theater exploratory teacher at High Tech Elementary, where she has directed over 60 productions. She is also the founder of Imaginary Theater Company, a theater company committed to producing original plays that empower children to be the heroes of their own stories. Her plays Dream Train, Mama Threw Me So High, He Who Speaks and Canary Cockroach Phoenix have been published by Drama Notebook. Dream Train recently celebrated its first international production in Morocco. Starry is a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild and TYA/USA.
Laurie Kurnick taught English for 22 years in LAUSD, grades 7 – 12, working with struggling readers and AP Literature students. She coached Classic Slam teams for 10 of those years at Cleveland High School (many of her students can be found in the Get Lit Player rosters). As part of her Creative Writing program, she sponsored the award-winning literary and art magazine, The Writer’s Block, which has been displayed at Barnes and Noble bookstore. Laurie is also a fellow of the UCLA Writing Project and has facilitated many workshops and professional development sessions over the last 15 years.
Chantrell M. Lewis, M.F.A is a multi-hyphenate arts educator, published author, award-winning researcher, and artist. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kent State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of California, Irvine. She is a certified specialist in the social-emotional development of youth stamped by The University of California, Riverside. Lewis carefully designs and teaches programming and curriculum that emphasizes literacy and other skills in alignment with the state standards for visual and performing arts education. Lewis is dedicated to increasing accessibility to literacy, wellness, and the arts in under-resourced communities. Please visit: www.Chantrelllewis.com and www.JarofSunshineInc.com
Mollie Lief has taught drama for over a decade. She founded and ran drama programs in NYC at both the Battery Park City School and P.S. 29, as well as served as the Associate Artistic Director and Youth Director at Piper Theater Productions. She most recently ran the drama program at Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles. Mollie holds a BA in directing and educational theatre from Hampshire College and a Master’s in Educational Theatre from The CUNY City College of New York.
Robin Lithgow is the retired Coordinator of the Arts Education Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School. She was the principal designer of the district’s elementary arts program, placing dance, music and visual arts teachers in all schools. Robin was the principal architect and editor of the LAUSD’s K-6 Instructional Guide in Elementary Theatre. She is the author of “Lessons from Shakespeare’s Classroom: Empowering Learning Through Drama and Rhetoric.” She believes, quite simply, that the performing arts are the best way to teach all things.
Michael Ornelas Over the last 20 years my directorial career focuses on original works including the horror comedy “Dr.Hack and Igor” show, “Na Ka Ao” traditional Hawaiian folklore and original works featured at Hollywood Fringe, RTC’s Director’s Festival in Fullerton, California and creating pieces to raise money for American Cancer Society. I also make my living creating immersive theater through Knott’s Berry Farm Entertainment, Insomniac Events and Meta For You.
Nicole (Nikki) Parsons has taught theatre for about 10 years in the South Bay of LA, and worked in a variety of local theaters in all backstage/ front of house jobs from usher all the way up to director and EP. She has also taught History, English, Video Production, and several other subjects along the way. Her focus/ philosophy in theatre classes is to teach students gratitude, responsibility, resiliency, and respect as they use all the art forms theatre employs to share stories and find their own voices.
Willy J Pate recently joined the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA as the Production Carpenter for Segerstrom Hall. Previously, he spent over 10 years as the House Flyperson and Automation Operator at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA. During that time, he worked on many productions such as theAcademy Awards, the AFI Awards, Americas Got Talent, and Cirque du Soliel’s resident installation of IRIS. Before landing in SoCal, he spent the better part of a decade touring extensively as a Head Carpenter on various first national tours. Among those were Cameron Mackintosh’s My Fair Lady, Lincoln Center Theatre’s South Pacific and DreamWorks Theatricals’ Shrek the Musical. Soon he will mark his 25th year as a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Martin Rodriguez has taught and been involved in arts and theatre education within the communities, colleges, preservice theatre credential programs, schools, and theaters in Austin, TX and in/around Los Angeles. He currently teaches theatre and is the Arts Coordinator at Ramon C. Cortines VAPA. He is also Salary Point Class Instructor for LAUSD and an Adjunct Professor at Pasadena City College. Martin earned his Master’s in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado and his BFA in Theatre Studies/Education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lauren Rosi is an award-winning theater educator, cultural competency consultant, actor and director based in the SF Bay Area. She has taught and performed at nearly every theater in the Bay Area over the last decade. For 4 years she served as President of the Board of Directors at Town Hall Theatre Company earning recognition by Contra Costa County for her contribution to the arts. Lauren currently teaches in the theater department at Oakland School for the arts as well as an Adjunct Faculty member at Contra Costa College. Lauren’s received her DEI Certification from Cornell and her new company, Art of Inclusion, aims to bring cultural competency and DEI training to theaters and theater education.
Mike Scharnell has dedicated his career to becoming a leading authority in Safety for Work at Heights. Beginning his career in fall protection in 1999, Mike joined VER Sales, Inc. in 2001 to provide training and manage the engineered systems installations for their customers. Since 2011, Mike has focused on the entertainment industry and providing solutions for unique requirements in theaters, venues, locations, and studios. Sony Pictures, Pantages Theater, Universal Studios, Harvard University and Disneyland are just a few of the companies that rely on the expertise and experience that Mike brings to all of his clients. Mike also maintains certifications for Rope Access, Rescue and Engineered Systems installations.
Thomas Schultheis is a Teaching Artist who creates workshops, teaches at conferences, adjudicates competitions, and gives keynotes to organizations around the country. He received his M.A in Strategic Communications from National University & B.S. in Psychology from James Madison University. He is Dean of Admissions at The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts, Theatre Consultant with the National REACH Grant, and Creative Team with Musical Theatre Competitions of America. Thomas worked for 15 years with Disney Performing Arts at the Disneyland® Resort. He performed on Broadway in Grease! and tours of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Chicago, and South Pacific.
Emily Stamets is a teaching artist, storyteller, designer, and director. She was a classroom Theatre Arts teacher for over ten years, and co-created at least ten original “Hyper-theatre” productions with Rogue Artists Ensemble as a designer, playwright, and performer. She studied Shakespeare performance & production with Shakespeare & Company in MA, and holds Master’s degrees in Theatre Design & Production (SOU) and School Leadership with a focus on arts-integrated inclusive education (Harvard). She is the current Chapter Director of CA Thespians. Recent projects include directing the SDUSD Honor Theatre Project for the La Jolla Playhouse WOW Festival.