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jsfowler jsfowler is offline
 
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Starting a drama program
Old 06-12-2009, 06:34 AM
 
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I am writing a grant to start a drama program at my middle school. We have nothing so I am starting from scratch. What materials do I need to include in my grant? This could range from $2000 to $30,000 based on need and importance so please give me some ideas on how to best spend money for a drama program. Thanks in advance for your ideas.


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maryteach maryteach is offline
 
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Oh wow
Old 06-12-2009, 11:14 AM
 
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I'm so jealous. I've been co-sponsor of my middle school's drama club for five years now and we had to raise every penny ourselves! We now have quite a large bank account, but this is many dinner theatres later! Good for you!

IMO, you need money for scripts. Pioneer Drama is your best bet for really appropriate and funny MS scripts. When purchasing a script, look for cast size, as well as story line. Also look at how many of each gender. We are always short on boys so we don't buy shows that require a large number of them. A typical script from Pioneer will run you $300-$450, if memory serves. Longer plays, and musicals, are the most expensive. We put on two of these shows a year, so that would be, say, $700 for one year's worth of scripts.

It makes sense to have a stockpile of costumes, as long as you have all this money. I think you need full length dresses, suit jackets, briefcases, black pants, some wigs, a few pairs of Groucho glasses, we always seem to need tiaras, maybe some "countrified" clothes like gingham dresses and plaid shirts.

Why not buy some props? Swords, shields, fake cameras, funny sunglasses, plastic drinking glasses that look like they're full of liquid, a whistle, as well as prop-making materials, if you have room to store it. That would include butcher paper, construction paper, wood....

You will have printing costs associated with this. Pioneer is very explicit about how big your signs will be, and how large the credit you give them on the sign will be. You have to run off programs, advertisement posters, and tickets, as well.

Consider buying one of those popcorn machines on a cart. They are not at all expensive, under $200, I'm sure, and they're very easy to operate. We make a small fortune with that little moneymaker every time we put on a show. The popcorn is dirt cheap, and we sell it for a dollar a small bag. We really rake in some cash with that, because popcorn smells so good to people!

Finally, look at your venue. How is your sound system? Lights? The curtain? Look at your curtain carefully; repairing one of those costs hundreds of dollars, because they're so unbelieveably heavy and they have to be taken down to repair. If the sound system is poor, you could sink two to four thousand right there. Do you have clip-on mics? Handheld mics on a stand? Lights is another expensive place to look.

Boy oh boy, am I ever jealous. Can I come do drama at your school?
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:58 AM
 
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maryteach, thank you so much for your suggestions. I am including everything you mentioned. I am writing a grant to a company that awards two teachers from every state $2000. Then they look at those 100 grants and choose "winners". The "grand prize" is $30,000 , I think second is $15,000, third is $7000...

So I may not win anything but then again I might...

Our students really want a drama program so I am trying to make it happen
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maryteach maryteach is offline
 
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That's awesome
Old 06-14-2009, 07:23 AM
 
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Drama is a whole lot of work, but it is very rewarding to see the kids put on a really good show and see how impressed everyone is.

If you don't get the grant, or get one that's small and you still need cash, consider doing a dinner theatre every fall. We raise a lot of cash that way. You either get a local restaurant to give you a deal, or you can have parents cook (we did it that way the first year, and it was a lot harder than using a restaurant). If you pick an Italian restaurant, they can give you lots of food for pretty cheap. We always double-cast our fall show because we want to see who we have, and so Cast B serves the first night while Cast A performs, and they switch the second night.

The popcorn really is a big moneymaker. Another thing we do is go to Costco and buy pop and candy bars and sell those, as well, for a dollar apiece. Anything that doesn't sell at the two nights of shows I sell to my classroom students for the same dollar. We made a bunch of money!

Take your profits to the thrift store and buy costumes and various props for almost nothing. Once you get all those costumes and props, you need someplace to store it and that is one of our ongoing problems. You know how middle school kids are. If you don't have the stuff put away, kids will mess with it.

Good luck! I hope you love doing this. We just chose our shows for the upcoming year yesterday, from Pioneer.
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Practically free drama program
Old 07-19-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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Maryteach, you have some great expertise! Sounds like you have an awesome program going on there. I love the idea of a dinner theater and the popcorn machine! I'll put that idea in my back pocket.

I, on the other hand, am an elementary teacher at a K-12 school that has NO drama opportunities for middle & high school kids during the school year. A teacher friend and I do drama camps for elementary kids during the summer, and I had to try with the teens.

What I did was use a lot of improv work. We got game ideas from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and University of Rochester's improv group In Between the Lines. They have oodles of games at their website http://www.sa.rochester.edu/improv/

However, you need to know your kids and trust them with improv. I work in a Christian school, so I wasn't so worried, but I warned them to keep it clean or they were NOT going to be participating again. They loved it and are demanding more next year. It was amazing the stuff they could come up with!

We also wrote our own monologues and performed them. You could also use monologue books, too. There is a director who has posted some excellent workshop videos on YouTube that I used to help them understand what to do.

Strangely enough, the kids also loved the pantomime workshop I did. It's great, because there is NO cost to mime. Who needs a prop to create the illusion of a character? Not us!

We don't have an auditorium, curtains, or even a stage to speak of, so I do whatever I can to get drama experience to these kids! Good luck with that grant.


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Old 08-08-2009, 05:25 PM
 
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If I were given a grant for my drama program, I'd probably spend it on high quality props, material for the backdrops and sets (we always end up using construction materials), and a headset system for backstage folks to coordinate with one another. Wireless microphones for cast members would help as well.

We don't purchase our scripts but write them ourselves. Our main costs there are associated with printing copies. It's REALLY nice not to have to worry about copyright issues, plus kids are SO invested even in small parts when they have some artistic control.
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Wow
Old 04-15-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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I feel sorry for you. Our school sponsors us every year, and they have a supplement set aside for the advisor's salary. Except for, this year no one wants to take it over, so we don't have an advisor for next year! Bluck! =/
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