4 Theatre Podcasts You Should Check Out

I’ve always been a bit hot and cold when it comes to podcasts. Sometimes I’m all for them and other times I’m not. I think this is because there are so many out there and you can’t be sure on the quality and I guess, in the past, some have let me down. There are so many, on every conceivable topic so it’s hard to narrow down exactly what it is you are looking for. I feel overwhelmed every time I hit the i-Tunes store!

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Edreach Network’s TheatreCast program with @edtech4theatre and @msfilas. It was a fantastic professional development opportunity. I finally got my act together and got a webcam and headset so that I could use Google+ Hangouts properly. It was also really nice to finally connect in real time (if still virtual) with some of the contacts I’ve made through my Twitter PLN. In listening to their podcast, I could hear the passion and the struggles that these teachers from the other side of the world were feeling just like me. It was nice to be able to share conversation with them even though we are thousands of miles away. I now subscribe to the podcast and enjoy listening to it in my car on the way to work.

In recording this podcast, it really prompted me to find out what other podcasts are out there that could be useful in our classrooms and you know what? It was tricky. Particularly finding ones about theatre and theatre education that were of repute and quality. So to fill out my list I’ve had to think laterally(??) about how some of my favourite, quality podcasts could be used in the classroom. As they say though, where there is a will there is a way, so if you find something that works, go for it!

1. National Theatre

These podcasts, seriously, are probably the best out there for drama teachers. They are resources you can actually use with your students. They have collections on acting, voice, costume, playwriting, theatrical styles and their various productions that they’ve put on over the years. From such a credible, respectable theatre, I’ll say it again, these podcasts are an invaluable resource. Search for “National Theatre” at the i-Tunes store.

2.Ted Talks

You’ve seen the videos, well now you can get the audio as well. There are talks on everything and The Arts is not forgotten. I’ve mentioned some of the clips before in a previous post. These could be used as stimulus, extension work or discussion. Or maybe just a little inspiration for your commute to and from work perhaps? Search for “Ted Talks Audio” in the i-Tunes library.

3. This American Life

I love these podcasts because of the topics that they talk about. It promotes discussion and thought. I really think you could use some of these as stimulus for playbuilding and devising. Search for “This American Life” in the i-Tunes library.

4. Edreach – TheatreCast

Edreach is a database full of podcasts, videos and posts from all areas of education. It provides passionate and outspoken innovators in education an outlet with which to express their highly innovative ideas for education. It’s great to know drama, theatre and the Arts is being covered by Danielle and Nick. Search for “Edreach” or “TheatreCast” in the i-Tunes library. You can check out the You-Tube link to the podcast I was involved in below:

Are there any podcasts that you swear by? Share them in the comments.

Photo Credit: zoomar via Compfight cc

9 Must Watch Ted Talks About The Arts

I’ve blogged about my discovery of the Ted Talks website some time ago now and I’ve been meaning to share with you some of my favourite talks that focus on The Arts. There are some really insightful talks that get you to really connect with the Arts in a way that you may not have before or that you may not have indulged in for a time because I think we get too caught up in our day to day school lives to really think about these sorts of things.

I ask you to indulge in at least one of these that takes your interest. Choose any one which sounds interesting.

Trust me, you will feel better about what you do once you watch it.

Consider it your 20 minutes of free professional development/reflection that you may not have had in a while. Enjoy.

1. Chris Bliss: Comedy is Translation

If you teach Comedy or enjoy comedy this talk is all about the truth that can be found in comedy.

2. Charles Hazelwood: Trusting the Ensemble

Hazelwood discusses the role of trust when leading an ensemble. I think some of the ideas are translatable to other areas of the Arts.

3. Handspring Puppet Co: The Genius Puppetry Behind War Horse

The creators of Joey in War Horse share the complexities of bringing the puppets to life on stage.

4. Charles Limb: Your Brain on Improv

This is my favourite. Limb explains what happens when you improvise when playing music. I also think this is relevant in Drama.

5. Ben Cameron: The True Power of the Performing Arts

Cameron discusses how the Performing Arts must compete in an Internet age.

6. Thelma Golden: How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change

Golden discusses the meaning of Art and how can it redefine culture.

7. Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?

Tan analyses her own creative processes to see where it starts and flourishes.

8. David Eggers’ Wish: Once Upon a School

If you’re looking for something that’s pro-public school and teachers. This is it 🙂

9. Anna Deavere Smith: Four American Characters

A great soloist performing some interesting characters. A possible source for Individual Project: Performance.

Fantastic Find: Ted Talks

This weekend my school held the first of their soon to become annual Learning Conference.

Each year since our new principal started at the end of 2008 we have a Leadership Conference. We go away to a hotel for two days and are fed and get fancy satchels with booklets and free pens and mentos on the table and we listen to speakers share and discuss their ideas on education. We feel like the big wigs in the business industry who regularly attend conferences for two days and it’s really nice.

This year our principal has added the Learning Conference and an Executive Conference to the agenda so that we have three professional development weekends per year. All optional and you take away want you from it.

Anyway, one of the teacher’s who spoke this weekend introduced us to a new website called Ted Talks.

TEDTalks is the sister website of TED.com. TED began as a series of conferences bringing together people from the world of entertainment, design and technology. Since then it has grown and its scope become much broader and the website now shares the best talks and performances for free.

The non profit groups aim is to share and spread ideas. In doing that, they passionately believe these talks and their ideas are a vehicle in which attitudes, lives and the world can change. The most a speaker can present for is 18 minutes.

It’s an easy site to navigate with the ability to narrow your search down in terms of length, topic or whether or not they are considered “persuasive”, “courageous”, “ingenious” etc.

Whether to inspire yourself or to use as a resource in the classroom, it’s certainly worth taking a look.

I had a bit of a flick around and found something I liked. This talk is by a scientist by the name of Charles Limb, talking about some experiments he did with musicians so as to understand how their brain functions when they improvise. In Drama we improvise a lot too when we’re playbuilding, playing Theatresports or workshopping scenes. What I found so amazing was that your brain is so much more engaged when it’s improvising than when it’s rote learning or playing something from memory. Thinking about it now it seems kind of obvious but it just reminded why it’s important to encourage active engagement in learning because if we just rote learn everything our brains will get lazy!

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Image Credits:

hyg-27, Used under the Creative Commons.