As often as possible drama teachers should also be actors in play productions outside a school context. Changing the roles from time to time makes you aware of the feelings and thoughts students are faced with when acting in play productions.
What I notice when acting instead of teaching/directing:
1. You need to trust another person who is in charge.
2. You might feel quite vulnerable since you are exposing yourself to another persons' judgement and an audience.
3. You might feel like you need a lot of encouragement to feel comfortable.
4. You might feel insecure as soon as there is unexpected change. (Was that line taken away from me because I didn't say it right?)
5. You might wonder: Why can't I remember this text although I have repeated it ten thousand times?
6. What's the quality of the play? Is it good enough?
7. Is it okay for the group if I have a bigger part than some?
8. Is it okay for me if I have a smaller part?
9. You might feel like you need more or less structure than the director is giving.
10. You might feel like you get angry with other actors who are not reliable or very self-centered.
For a teacher acting in a play is like giving up a lot of the
control that we are usually used to have. We are used to be the ones who watch and judge and give feedback. Our students who participate in a play production are in a different position which
might make them fragile and insecure during the process. So it needs to be one of our priorities to help our students find confidence in their acting.
I was inspired to perform on stage during my own school time and it has had a great impact on my life. I first joined choirs, then theater productions, bands and a musical play production that our teacher trusted us to write the script and the lyrics for and went on a performance tour with us. I was responsible for the libretto and was encouraged to be a lead actress and perform in a musical concert as well. Then, while being a university student I played roles in other musical productions (like Fame, Little Shop of Horrors, Die Sonnenseitler, Curtains, She Loves You, Hair) and in theater productions. Acting and singing made me more confident, outgoing and gave me some of the best memories of my life.
In Germany, theaters are fairly open to cooperation. If you're interested they will let you volunteer or work for them, you can do internships or bring your classes to theater productions. Often
they have drama educators who are also willing to visit you at your school to prepare your students for a play production or reflect on it afterwards. If there aren't any structures for
cooperation yet, maybe you can help create them.
State theaters in Germany are public theaters that are funded by national and/or municipal governments. Most of their tickets are subsidized so that it is easier to afford them. And student tickets are particularly cheap. Almost all state theaters now also have drama educators that offer workshops, after-show discussions and tours through the theater for students. Some of them also offer lesson plans or other materials to help teachers and students approach play productions. With Staatstheater Mainz, I cooperate by preparing and sharing teaching material. I write reviews on play productions which take place at Mainz and Wiesbaden Staatstheater for theater, literature and musical theater magazines and sometimes my students help prepare parts for reviews. Some of the theaters also offer space for school theater productions in their school theater festivals like Schultheatertage Wiesbaden or Hessische Schultheatertage Seligenstadt which I have joined with students. My students and I also enjoyed theater workshops from and trips to Staatstheater Darmstadt, Gallustheater Frankfurt, English Theater Frankfurt, Stadttheater Rüsselsheim and we love hosting theater productions and lecture performances with local and international performers who came to our school.
A particularly fascinating experience was to be involved in the "New Plays from Europe"-festival, which featured 24 play productions from 23 different countries. The festival enabled theatrical encounters with every corner of Europe. 5,211 paying audience members visited "New Plays from Europe's" 39 performances, and a further 900 attended the festival’s numerous free additional events. All performances were shown in their original language with a simultaneous translation into German. It was very impressive to see plays from places like Czeck Republic, Latvia or Denmark and discuss tendencies in acting, drama and theater processes in different parts of the continent.
Schauspielschule Mainz offers a three year full-time course for actors. I have participated in the course as an intern for several weeks and joined the theater theory, speaking, acting, pantomime, improv, fighting, phonetics and dance classes. It was interesting for me to see teachers work with future actors and actresses and I got to improve my acting skills and knowledge about teaching actors at the same time.
Showbühne is a private theater in the center of Mainz,
Germany. As a student I volunteered to work in the box office and at the bar, then became an actress and assisting director. Also, I had the great opportunity to see about 200 musical theater
productions, plays, shows and concerts. I learned a lot about theater through watching and working with professional performers. In the video I'm interviewing the head of Showbühne for the