Playwright Information Center

Click here to log in if you are one of our published authors.

I really appreciate Playscripts and their work toward creating better theater and theater experiences for all. Jay Muldoon Theater Teacher, Fairfield, OH
General Information
Teacher Spotlight: David Boone of White Station High School

We bring you another installment of our Teacher Spotlight series, where we chat with teachers from around the country, picking their brain about their theater program and the art of teaching theater. This month we spoke with David Boone of White Station High School in Tennessee about how he keeps teaching fresh, the many ways theater benefits students, and his recent production of Nora’s Lost.

img_1090What inspired you to become a theater educator?

I was inspired by the work of Stephen Slaughter at Bossier Parish Community College. Stephen started the theater program at Bossier Parish Community College and was a fabulous set designer. Stephen Slaughter founded the theater program in 1989 at the college.

I was also inspired by the Dean at Louisiana Tech University, Cherrie Sciro. They were both exceptional instructors, who made learning fun. Cherrie was hired by Cameron Mackintosh, who produced Les Miserables, and while working for Mr. Mackintosh, Cherrie was involved in her second Broadway show, Song and Dance, which initially stared Bernadette Peters and, later, Betty Buckley. After Song and Dance, Cherrie did Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Five Guys Named Mo. She resigned from Five Guys Named Mo to become an independent contractor. Cherrie had over 20 years as a Broadway stage manager and her extensive knowledge in the field gave me the knowledge and love to pursue theater. I am a proud member of Actors’ Equity and very glad to be teaching theater. Several others that have inspired me include: Debbie Craig, Michael Marks, and McKenzie Westmoreland. Michael and Mckenzie wrote The Katrina Project published with Playscripts. Jimmy Rubio, a close mentor and friend, encouraged me to pursue theater as a career. He produced me in several shows that he wrote and directed.

How do you think high school students benefit from their involvement in theater?

Students benefit greatly from theater because it connects all of the curriculum into one class. They benefit from my classroom because we grow students through every project. I am a Level 5 teacher, which is the highest level that you can achieve as a Shelby County School employee, and we are required to create a portfolio showing how you grew the student through every assignment. Students benefit from objective drive theater lessons that connect all areas of subjects taught in the school setting. Teachers who teach theater are great at explaining content in an artistic and creative way. Part of the national standards that benefit the involvement of theatrical productions include creating, conceiving, and developing new artistic works, responding, understanding, and evaluating how the arts convey meaning, connecting the work to your own life, and performing artistic ideas through interpretation and presentation. The benefits include using the brain and the body to make art and connecting the link that join both together. Students envision/conceptualize stories and share those stories. By being involved students are able to generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work, organize and develop character development, do plot summaries, and select, analyze, and interpret artistic works. Cornerstones are used as benchmarks to see that students have learned and grown in the production. Doing productions help improve reading skills and the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. Students are able to use higher order thinking skills to be better critical thinkers.

Tell us a little bit about White Station High School! What makes White Station unique?

White Station is an optional school that offers an Optional (Honors) Diploma. Newsweek magazine ranked White Station #1027 in the United States and #8 in Tennessee in its 2009-2010 edition of America’s Best High Schools. White Station High made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2007 and continues to do so.

In the 2011-2012 school year, White Station had 22 National Merit Semifinalists, more than any other school in the state of Tennessee. In the 2012-2013 school year, White Station announced 23 National Merit Semifinalists. White Station High School has also had the most National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists of any school in the state of Tennessee in many previous years.

White Station has 7 National Board Certified Teachers.

In January 2014, White Station High School announced that they would be offering the AP Capstone program in the 2014-2015 school year.

Famous people who have graduated from WSHS include: Kathy Bates (Academy Award-winning actress), Leron Black (basketball player), Dana Buchman (fashion designer), Clare Grant (actress), Dan Schneider (actor, writer and producer), Paul Finebaum (sports media commentator), Josh Miller (sports public address announcer), and John Martin (sports radio host).

How do you keep teaching fresh with each new school year?

I love to travel and watch productions. I try to attend the Mississippi Theater Association Festival, which produces amazing work every year. I like to attend the Southeastern Theater Conference to watch shows, attend one-acts, and share ideas with other teachers. I like to have fellowship with mentors and theater friends to grow and learn new things.

How do you choose what play will be right for your students and your audience?

I survey what the students are interested in producing because education is about putting the students’ feelings and emotions first.

img_1082You recently produced Nora’s Lost. What drew you to that play?

My grandmother, Oneda LaLena, had just passed away at the age of 91 and she suffered with Alzheimer’s. I had seen the play at SETC and felt it was very compelling. Alan Haehnel has written some compelling plays with great plot structure. I saw so many characteristics of Nora Blodget in my grandmother. She was a life teacher, great wife, and mother, and as she experienced some of her flashbacks, I recalled many I had with my grandmother.

Nora’s Lost deals with sensitive issues, like grief and Alzheimer’s. How did you help your students to grapple with such heavy material?

We started off the process with a stage reading followed by characterization.

What was your favorite moment of the production’s rehearsal process and performances?

Using the voices and emotions of Nora in a psychological way with colors and deep expressions. Characters using facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, and stance.

Why do you think your community connected to Nora’s Lost?

The community connected with the story through the flashbacks of Nora. The story was compelling with the plot being about Alzheimer’s.

What has been the proudest moment of your teaching career?

I have several of them. My proudest moment is when I received the Tennessee Holocaust Teacher of the Year Award 2016 for the State of Tennessee for teaching the Holocaust and promoting social tolerance in the classroom.

If you could only pass one message along to your students, what would it be?

What Cherrie Sciro said over and over again: “Time is Money.”

Leave a Reply

Login

Top Matches:

 
Filters