Connecting with Authors

Providing students with authentic connections and experiences is one of the benefits of our current technology landscape. Ms. Lentz leads an Exploration of Play Production class whose end goal is to write and produce an original class theatre production. They took advantage of technology by connecting with a couple of authors who had written a musical titled “Understudies.”  After their learning so far this semester regarding the elements of a play, character development, and writing their own short production, the students read this scriIMG_20160310_100035950pt with a critical eye to offer feedback to the writers.

The students then engaged in a video call with the authors using Google hangouts to provide feedback face to face.  Part of the challenge of this experience was providing constructive criticism in an honest but kind manner.  The students commented that it was easy to have very frank discussions during class, but it was more difficult to provide that feedback directly to the authors.

One of the critiques of the play was that the antagonist felt flat.  The students expressed that sentiment to the authors and also explained how the villain was a main component in the first play they had written this semester.

“Our inspiration was fleshing out a good villain,” one student commented. “We tried to explain why he is doing what he is doing and that involved revenge and losing his family.  We started from that and worked everything else around it.”

In addition to the students providing feedback, the authors provided advice to the class about a variety of areas related to writing and producing a play including how to register for a copyright, the importance of networking in any career, and how to get your work out there.

“You have opportunities to easily share things on this ‘internet’ and get immediate feedback and distribution,” one of the writers said.  “It’s so inexpensive now.  We recorded our songs in the kitchen with just a couple hundred bucks worth of equipment, and it does a good job of representing the music.”

By using a video call, the students were able to easily get outside the walls of the classroom and make a connection with people working the field they are studying.

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