Illinois Theatre Association
In This Edition...


January 7-9, 2016 --
41st Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival
Dare to Dream
Illinois State University, Normal 
February 6-7 2016 --

March, 2016 --
Annual Creative Drama and Theatre for Young Audiences Conference 
October, 2016 --
Annual Middle School Conference

November, 2016
2nd Bi-Annual Community Theatre Festival
DePaul College Prep seeks a choreographer for it's spring play.

Lincoln College seeks adjunct theatre professor for Spring 2016.

The Actors Gymnasium
is offering a Marketing Internship.

Spotlight Youth Theatre
is seeking a set Builder/Carpenter.

Click here to visit the ITA's Job Board for details and more postings!



Palatine High School
The Secret Garden

February 3-6

Wed - Sat at 7:00pm


Need more information on the above shows? Want your performance to be featured here?  Visit the   ITA Performance Calendar for details.

Illinois Theatre Association

The ITA is a network of dedicated theatre artists and educators  advocating quality theatre throughout Illinois.  Please join us!

123 Mill Pond Dr.
Glendale Heights, IL  60139
312-265-5922 (office)
312-265-6101 (fax)


The Illinois Theatre 
Association is partially 
supported by a grant from 
the Illinois Arts Council, 
a state agency.  
Each week the ITA sends out "Friday Announcements" to its Listserve (currently comprised of more than 2,300 theatre artists and educators from throughout the state). If you'd like to submit an item for inclusion in the weekly announcements, please click here [Suggestions for inclusion include: audition announcements, job postings, interesting th eatre stories/experiences, lesson plans, community/life events, etc., theatre opportunities, etc.). 
Also, please remember to submit your upcoming performances and/or events to the  ITA's on-line performance calendar !!!  Click here .
eFOLLOWSPOT    top    December , 2015  
The Heart of Theatre in Illinois
By Kathy Missel, ITA Community Theatre Division Representative

As people with a mission of building and sustaining theatre in the state of Illinois, we all know the importance of supporting arts education.  We applaud academic drama programs from our youngest audiences on through graduate school.  We oppose funding cuts because we recognize the impact on creative and intellectual development in our educational system. 

But when school is over, then what?  Where do people turn whose lives and career paths take them away from the arts field?  In many cases, these individuals choose the same path I did, finding an outlet for their love of performing in community theatre.  And while we respect the formidable talents of the professional division and applaud the commitment of our educational divisions, our community theatre division can really be called the heart of the theatre.  For many of us, this is where we began.  For even more of us, it's where we will stay, committed to producing the best local productions we can with the resources we have.  Our communities support us in return, because they recognize the value of what we bring to the quality of life in our respective areas.  But somehow, the term "community theatre" has developed a negative connotation.  We should not use the term "community theatre" to disparage the passion of the many individuals who fulfill their love of the performing arts in this important arena.

Yes, it's true that much of the work in community theatre groupslikely doesn't measure up to professional standards.  But is that the point?  Not at all.  Most of us in community theatre are quite happy being teachers, bankers, attorneys, clerks, stay-at-home parents or whatever.  We never aspired to be professionals.  This is our hobby, our passion and our creative outlet without the pressure of making a living at it.  When we're not involved in a production, you'll likely find us in the audience, supporting our friends and neighbors in their current roles.  The connection between performer and audience is never stronger than when it's a relationship between people who know each other beyond the stage.  There is a deep appreciation of the commitment it takes to juggle family, career, and community responsibilities and still find time to joyfully participate in local theatre.  In rural areas devoid of opportunities to experience professional theatre, we may provide the only theatre our community gets to see.  Community theatre matters.

Watch for upcoming details on our Fall 2016 Community Theatre Festival and plan to join us to celebrate the heart of theatre in Illinois. 

Adapting A Holiday Classic for TYA
By Jeremy Schaefer, ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative

A Conversation with AlphaBet Soup Productions' owner and resident playwright, Mark A. Pence, about their production of A Christmas Carol in Hogpatch Holler

A Christmas Carol in Hogpatch Holler merges iconic characters like Scrooge and The Big Bad Wolf.  Were there particular characteristics of The Big Bad Wolf that enhanced the Scrooge personae (and vice versa) and if so, what were they?

Both Scrooge and the Big Bad Wolf are the top of the pecking order in their worlds.  Scrooge - People owe him money and at a drop of a hat, he could demand payment and ruin their lives.  The Big Bad Wolf - with one swipe of his paw, you could be his dinner.  They are both powerful and full of themselves. 

What are some of the challenges you faced while adapting a classic story?
I have always been a big fan of the original A Christmas Carol.  It started when I was a kid with "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol."  I couldn't wait to see it on TV every year.  (For you youngins' out there, you could only see it once when the networks decided to show it.) Then in 1971, "Scrooge" the movie musical came out, and I loved the story even more.  Then came "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, who put his own spin on it.  The challenge: When I decided to do my own version, how was I going to tell it in my unique way?  How could I make it my own?  Since I am an adapter of Fairy Tales, it became only natural to use fairy tale characters along with the animals of the forest.  Little Red Ridinghood became The Ghost of Christmas Past.  Her Granny is The Ghost of Christmas Present.  Bob Rabbit stands in for Bob Crachet.  The Three Little Pigs become The Three Little
Fezzypigs (as in Scrooge's first boss Mr. Fezzywig).  The  challenge also comes with finding what is the equivalent conflict in each of their worlds.  Scrooge - he could foreclose on your home.  The Big Bad Wolf - he has the power to bulldoze the forest, hence lose your habitat. 

The curriculum connections for the play are listed as "Literature-Based, Language Arts, Music & Dance, Just Plain FUN!"  What balance do you look for between fun and academic connections?
First and foremost it has to be fun!  There is nothing worse than seeing an audience watching your play and then here comes "The Squirm Alert!"  BORING!  It is a challenge to keep kids attention in this day of iPads and Xboxes, but it has to be done!  Theatre is a natural teaching tool without really trying.  You use all your senses when you watch a play.  You  listen to the words.   Maybe new words you have never heard before.  Theatre takes you to a different world and you become part of that world.   With music and dance, you learn new rhythms using your brain in a different way.  The lights, the sound, the costumes and sets stimulate you in a different way than sitting passively in front of a computer screen.  Theatre makes you part of the story by making you interact with what is going on onstage! 

Where can ITA members purchase tickets and get information about upcoming shows?
You can reserve tickets and find more information online at or by calling (630) 932-1555.

Thank you so much for sharing your answers with us and for bringing new theatrical work to Illinois families this holiday season!

NSAL 2016 Musical Theater Career Awards Competition
Submitted by Jerry Proffit, ITA Member, on behalf of Judith Park

The National Society of Arts and Letters, founded in 1944, provides support to young people planning to make a career in the Arts and/or Literature.  In 2004, our 60th anniversary, the Central Illinois Chapter hosted NSAL's first competition in Musical Theater.  The first-place $10,000 award winner was Broadway and television star Megan Hilty.  In 2016, NSAL will hold its third Career Award competition in Musical Theater.

The first step in vying for this coveted award is to compete in a chapter competition and be named its first-place winner.  The Chapter will then pay the expenses of its winner to compete in the National Career Award Competition in Phoenix, AZ, from May 19-22, 2016.

The competition of the Central Illinois Chapter will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign, IL.  We will provide you with a detailed schedule of events once we know how many competitors to expect, but contestants should plan to be available for the entire day, as we anticipate having a reception and the announcement of the winners following the judges' deliberations and determination of the top three winners.  Monetary awards will be given to those winners, and, as stated above, the first-place winner will advance to the National competition in Phoenix, AZ in May to represent the Chapter and compete for one of several substantial monetary awards, including the NSAL First-Place Career Award of $10,000.

For the complete list of rules and regulations and the application form, please go to the NSAL website at, click on the link Competitions and then on the Performing Arts Competitions link.  There you will find two links related to the Musical Theater Competition.  While the Rules and Performance Requirements are the National Requirements, those of the Chapter will be the same, although the order of the two components may be reversed.  The application form is also prepared for the National competition, which is why the deadline for applications to be postmarked is April 4.  Please use that application form.  However, the deadline for applications to be postmarked for the Central Illinois Musical Theater Competition is Saturday, February 27.

Please mail your application to the Chapter Competition Chair, Judith Park, 3135 Shagbark Lane, Long Grove, IL 60047.

If you have questions or concerns that you would like to discuss, please e-mail Judith at  or you may call 847-726-7127 (h) or 847-710-7127 (c).

Why I Use These Words Now? Toss the Ball!
By Kevin Long, ITA University/College Division Representative

If you are looking for a way to unlock a scene with the actors you are coaching and/or directing, here is a technique that I use which has produced incredible results.  
It is helpful to remember that characters are in scenes in order to affect change in another character in that scene.  They need to affect this change; otherwise, they would not be on stage.  All of the choices we make as actors come from a very specific and careful analysis of the text.  My character is using these specific words now in order to affect change in another character.  Remember, my character is already on his own side.  He doesn't need to convince himself; yet, he does need to convince the other character now .  
In order to help my student actors, I bring in a variety of items that bring this point to life.  I have used tennis balls, pillows, squirt guns, etc.  My new coaching phrase is, "Toss that ball to the other character.  Don't hold it to yourself."  How they toss the ball, pillow or use the squirt gun depends upon the specific objective they are using.  If they are intimidating the other character, they need to toss the ball to them in an intimidating way.  If they are teasing the other character, they may walk over to the other actors, and give them the ball in a teasing way.  You get the idea.  
This simple exercise really works.  I was working on a scene from Ivanov by Chekhov with my advanced acting class.  The young actress playing Sasha was doing well - you really got the sense she was trying to affect change in Ivanov.  But then in the middle of the scene, you could tell that "the ball" (which had been strongly going back and forth between the actors) fizzled out.  It literally felt like the ball rolled nebulously on the floor in some other direction away from the actor playing Ivanov.  I immediately asked the class, "Did you feel that?  What just happened?"  

The class enthusiastically responded, "She didn't 'toss the ball' back to Ivanov.  She kept it to herself." 

"Correct," I announced.  "She stopped trying to affect change and you immediately sensed it."  
When I questioned the actress, she said, "Well, I was trying to say the line with an ironic twist."  

How many times do our students focus on how to say a line or what general quality a line should be delivered with?  I said to the actress, "Ironic twist him."  

"What?" she said.  

"Ironic twist him," I again replied.  

"How do I do that?" she responded.  

"Exactly!  It can't be done.  It's not an action.  You can't toss the ball called 'ironic twist.'  However, perhaps you want to mock him or to make fun of him or belittle him. Try that."  It worked.  
The same is true in musical theatre.  A song is just like amonologue.  Like a monologue, and truly in all of our work, we have to remember that even though we as actors are memorized, our character doesn't know that he needs all of the words until he is in the moment.  Our character lives in the perpetual present tense.  He is discovering he needs the words/music/lyrics now .  If we apply this thought - why must I use these words now in order to affect change in the other character so I can get what I want - to a song, it would look something like this: My character sings verse 1.  My character believes with his whole heart that verse 1 will work and he will get what he wants.  It doesn't.  So, after a quick thought of, "What do I do now," my character discovers the need for verse 2.  That verse also doesn't work.  "Now what do I do?"  I need verse three.  On each verse, "toss that ball" to the other character.  I  realize that the first verse ball didn't work, so now I need to throw the next ball, etc.  
Try it!  Not only will it enliven the scene, but your actors will feel much more comfortable on stage because they are actively pursuing something.  I have found that if you use an actual object in one of your rehearsals (a ball, a pillow, a squirt gun), the actors will have a physical manifestation highlighting the idea that everything must be done in order to affect change in the other character.  So, "Toss that ball!"  Don't let it drop and roll away. Break a leg!

Ronn Toebaas on Directing Original Work for the Theatre:
A veteran remarks on the Risks, Revisions, Rehearsals, and Rewards
By Joan McGrath, ITA Professional Division Representative

"I had agreed to direct an original musical called No body's Perfect .  The script was described as a "work in process": neither the music nor the dialogue was fully formed when rehearsals started.  In fact, the playwright and lyricist were completing scenes and songs just a day ahead of our rehearsing them.  The actors didn't know where they were going; I didn't know where we were going - and it became apparent the playwright didn't know where any of it was going.  I vowed NEVER to put myself in that position again."

Worst case scenario directing an untried piece of theatre?  Ronn Toebaas laughs about it now.  But the sophisticated veteran stage director and, recently, playwright, truly embraces working with original material as an invigorating "game of discovery." 

Toebaas' 45-year career features credentials across the theatrical spectrum:  academic theatre (he taught at Chicago's St. Scholastica and Loyola University), community theatre (he was a frequent contributor to North Shore Theater) and professional theatre (artistic director of Theatre of Western Springs, guest director at Light Opera Works, co-founder of Galena's Main Street Players, among many others).  He has directed his share of traditional and audience-vetted plays, but he is especially energized by new work, his own included.

Toebaas recently responded to questions about successfully directing never-before mounted material.

Is there a difference for a director working with established vs. new scripts?
Every script is original at some point.  As a director, if I haven't seen a production of the play and have no preconceived notions, I'm basically starting from scratch.  I'm evaluating both how well written is it and how will it play.  It's possible to get into rehearsal and find a script is not as finely crafted as it appeared - or, conversely, that it offers much more opportunity than was apparent on reading.  Dark of the Moon is a case in point.  The play reads terribly, the mountain dialect is hokey, yet on stage, it's magic, the content haunting; it takes on a life of its own.

In directing a debut production, is it beneficial or distracting to work in tandem with the playwright?
It can be helpful, a wonderful collaboration...or very difficult.  Many playwrights have a set vision of how their work should be played.  But often the author of a play doesn't know what he's written, at least not the full potential of what he's written.  I recently worked with a first time playwright, Ted Williams, on his intriguing script about Welsh miners, Will o' the Wisp.  He saw the play performed without Gaelic accents and with an elaborate set.  But I felt the Welsh references begged for an authentic accent - while evocative lighting and pantomiming going down into the depths of a mine would serve the piece better than a literal set.  Midway through the rehearsal process, Ted said to me approvingly, "I like what we're doing.  But it's way different than what I thought we'd be doing."

Sometimes playwrights use rehearsals to test what they've written - then materially reinvent it.  Tennessee Williams was notorious for this.  It's great to have the option of making revisions in the script - to simplify language, rephrase dialogue to match the way people really talk, to break up lengthy sentences that overburden actors.  But wholesale changes, especially late in the rehearsal process, can jeopardize the performance.  As a director, you have to put your foot down with the playwright in order to provide a firm foundation for your actors.  You have to be in charge of the clarity of image and language.

You've done the mother of challenges: directing your own work.  Is that the most artistically fulfilling experience... or the most dangerous?
Directing your own script is mind boggling.  First because of the length of the process - living day and night with your research and your words.  Then you start all over again with the performance elements.

On the other hand, you tend to direct in your head as your write it - and that can be very illuminating.  I do find, however, that I need a couple of good assistant directors to give me objectivity and a second opinion.  I wrote Peace in Union, a rather complex piece celebrating Thomas Nast's iconic painting of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant that ended the Civil War.  When we mounted the show in benefit for Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society & Museum, I benefitted greatly from the eyes of my A.D.s to give clarity to the three interwoven storylines while seamlessly getting 42 actors on and off stage.

What helps you the most when directing a new project?
Giving myself a healthy "gestation period."  If you'd seen the play before, you would know what to embrace and what to avoid.  With new work (or work that is new to you), you need a good length of time to review choices and make decisions.  What approach makes sense?  What kind of set will work for this story?  Can creative lighting replace stage walls?  Are there other options that serve the piece?  You need a good handle.  It takes time to develop a full, workable concept.

Do you have any other thoughts to share with directors tackling original works?
I'm a big champion of producing new work.  I feel that as a director, it's important to give new voices, new writers, an opportunity to test their material on stage.  It's crucial for new playwrights, because it's only when the script gets to the stage that you know what works.  Besides, for directors, it's dangerous to depend only on tried and true scripts.  It doesn't test your mettle until you're faced with a blank canvas on which to work.  I heartily encourage the educational theatre community in particular to be the forum that incubates and raises up original material.  Playwrights, actors, audiences all are enriched when you undertake the game of discovery.

# # #

If you have any questions for Ronn Toebaas, you're welcome to email him at

Ronn's next project is to write and direct the Galena History Museum's 23rd Annual Cemetery Walk.  This includes six scenes featuring costumed actors portraying historically significant individuals at their grave sites.  It is scheduled for June 11 and 12, 2016 at Greenwood Cemetery, Galena, Illinois.

By Annaliisa Ahlman, ITA Member

I don't know about your school these days, but I sometimes find myself wishing I had a glossary to help me comprehend emails from school staff:  Before the C&I SIP meeting in the MOCR, gather reports from your PLC, and get the RTL data from the LMNOPQ coordinator.  What?!  

OK, you caught me, I made up that last acronym.  But with so many things in the alphabet soup of our "must do" lists, it's easy to forget about or push aside the "should" and "want to do" lists.  Attend the theatre?  Observe someone else's rehearsal?  Check out live music, dance, or a gallery opening down the street?  Teach or participate in a workshop?  The activities that sometimes feel like extra special treats can suddenly turn into dreaded obligations when we're feeling overwhelmed, but they are also crucial in our success as theatre educators.  Doing something "extra" feels hard when we are already doing so much, but I challenge you to hold tight and keep some DIYPD on your "must do" list. 

DIYPD - Do It Yourself Professional Development - is a key ingredient for my own continuous growth as an artist, theatre director, teacher, and school leader.  Do It Yourself Professional Development may not always count for CPDUs or fit well into 45-minute Institute Day sessions, but I find that fostering my own network of individuals who challenge me to be a better teacher and artist is just as critical to my own and my students' continued success as collaborating in a more traditional way.  

Among my other routine DIYPD activities, I attend dance class weekly at a local studio.  Most people around me in class spend tens of hours per week at the studio, but sometimes I barely manage my 1.5 hours on the weekends. I find the warm-up physically demanding, the choreography intellectually stimulating, and surrounding myself with dancers better than I am forces me to routinely commit acts of bravery.  This class is great for my endorphins, renews my creative spirit, and reminds me of what it's like to be a student.  Sometimes it's really hard to keep this class on the "must do" list, but I do my best.

Your DIYPD could come in many forms: attending the theatre or other art events with friends, singing in a community choir, comparing notes with theatre teachers at the middle school or university level, seeking performance opportunities of your own, or just taking a class in something that exercises the creative artist within you.  When schools often have just one or two theatre teachers, DIYPD can help connect and inspire you in a myriad of ways that a traditional PLC or PD opportunity may not be able to.  We could all use a little recharge of batteries, and though committing to DIYPD takes some additional effort, the impact on your teaching, artistry, and ultimately on your students, is well worth the time and energy.  

Now I'll meet you in the MOCR in 5.

ITA Members Earn FREE Graduate Credit through Illinois State University 
By Cyndee Brown, ITA Member
Do you need Graduate Credits?  Do you need Professional Development hours?  The ITA can help.  Once again, the ITA is offering a FREE three-credit course through the Illinois High School Theatre Festival and the ISU School of Theatre and Dance.  How do you sign up?  What do you need to do?  Follow the process below!
Title of Class: THD 309 - Directed Projects
3 Credits
Instructor - Dr. Cyndee Brown
  • Students will identify and develop effective instructional or artistic materials or experiences which fully document a curricular or extracurricular project that will address professional, artistic or educational growth.
  • Students will document and explore current curricular or extracurricular practice with the goal of advancing programmatically, artistically, or educationally.
  • Students will examine new texts, tactics, or techniques with the goal of incorporating them into the teaching curriculum or artistic practice of their extracurricular programs.
  • Students will review current educational or artistic practice and reflect on its effectiveness and continued use.
  • Develop a unit for a play/genre you have never taught.
  • Explore an era of theatre history that is new and foreign to you and connect it to the new Core Arts Standards and future practice.
  • Try Shakespeare/Moliere/Shaw, etc. and document your process and progress.
  • Take a stylistic approach in production that is new to you.
  • Develop a new stage/auditorium/management manual for your program.
  • Document your directing process of a show you are now or will be doing.
Questions to ponder if you need ideas:
  • What play have you always wanted to do, yet have not done?
  • What are you curious about as far as other people's programs and their artistic and educational process?
  • Do you need to develop advocacy materials for your classes or your program?
Course Requirements:
  • Write a detailed outline of your proposed project including research questions to be answered, method of organization in the reporting out of the project, resources used, timeline for completion, etc.  Submit outline in Reggienet to the instructor during the Festival or at least no later than January 22.
  • Complete a written and/or pictorial documentation of the chronological process used for the project.
  • Select three books that can serve as a point of departure or information for the project.  These books may already be in use in your classroom or professional life (a book on directing, Shakespeare, voice, history, stage management - whatever your focus may be for your project).  Write an annotated bibliography entry for your three books.  These will be shared with the class and be used as a professional bibliography.
  • Select four other sources that you used in your research - articles, websites, interviews, observations, etc.  List and annotate these sources as well.
  • Turn in a copy of the curriculum, unit, handbook, promptbook, etc., that was developed during the course of your exploration.  Please submit electronically.
  • Include a written narrative/reflection of the growth and impact on your current practice resulting from the project.
Contact information for instructor of record:
Cyndee Brown
309-438-5692 (Office)
309-826-9840(Cell) Text or call!
Be sure your ITA membership is up to date.  This offer of free credit is only available to people whose membership is current and in good standing with ITA.
If you took the class last year, your 2015 application may still have you in the ISU system as a Visiting Graduate Student.  Check back in where is says "Sign In."  You will need your ULID and password to do this.  (clbrown3 is Cyndee's ULID.)  There are places listed to help you sign in if you don't have the information you need.

If you are new to the class this year:

1.  Go to: and click on "Apply" on the right hand side of the page, which will take you to

2.  Then click on "Apply Now" on the upper  right hand side of the page.  That will take you to a page that will allow you to "Create an Account" (green button on right hand side of the page).

3.  You will apply/register as a Visiting Graduate Student.

4.  After you have completed the process, be sure that you have a UID (University ID number).

5.  Send the name you registered under, your UID, email and phone number to: Cyndee Brown:  

6.  Cyndee Brown will register you for the course itself through the Registrar's Office, and she will contact you when registration is complete.  If you hear from the Registrar's Office regarding your application, respond right away - that means that something is incomplete, or your application can not be processed for some reason.

Once again, the course will be offered with one class meeting at the Festival, and in the online course management system, Reggienet.

If you are not yet a member of the Illinois Theatre Association, join today!

Cyndee Brown
Head of Theatre Education
School of Theatre and Dance - 5700
Illinois State University
Normal, IL   61790
Office: 309-438-5692
FAX: 309-438-5806

ITA Member Spotlight: Carmel DeStefano
Submitted by Judy Klingner, ITA Second Vice President

What is your name? 
Carmel DeStefano.  I was named after my grandmother, whose name was Carmella, but she insisted I be called Carmel since I was American.
Please tell us about your education/training in theatre. 
I have a BA in Theatre, Speech, and English Ed from State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buff State). We had a very small drama department, but we were fortunate to have instructors who worked on Broadway.  Buff State was a great training ground for directing at a high school level since I delved into every aspect of production.  I then worked in summer stock at the New London Barn Players in New Hampshire where I performed and served as the costumer for nine productions. I then moved to Chicago to attend the Goodman School of Drama that had just moved to DePaul University.  I studied directing and acting for two year. I later finished my MA in theatre and speech at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

What is the best thing about your job? 
Since I am now retired, I'd have to say the memories of those moments when magic happened. With each production we were able to venture beyond and within ourselves.
What is the biggest challenge you face related to your work in the theatre? 
Helping students to face their fears and take the chance to discover, create, and step into new worlds.

Under the direction of you and other staff members at Reavis, your school has had a long history of success at the Illinois High School Association's Drama / Group Interpretation Tournament.  Please explain what it is and why you think it's important.  
Although we are one of the few schools in the state who double cast, we have been able to achieve quite a bit of success.  First, I was lucky to work with a very talented staff of directors who instilled a sense of discipline in our performers and technicians.  Our students truly bought into the vision of each show and their crucial role in its success.  Some of my most cherished memories are of how, as a group, we would take a narrative and bring it to life: the flying motor bike in Harry Potter, the trophies in Fault in Our Stars, or the "Communion Debacle" in Chasing Grace.  They were moments of wonder.
Of what theatrical accomplishment are you most proud? 
It's hard to pick out just one, there are so many, but I must admit I stood in awe at every moment as the Reavis students brought my childhood favorite, Peter Pan, to life.  You see, I never wanted to grow up, and Reavis Drama helped me stay a kid for many years.
Please describe your personal history with the Illinois High School Theatre Festival. 
I have attended the Festival since my first year at Reavis.  I also served on Committee in many capacities: Promotions (oh, those turquoise t-shirts), Auditions, Workshops, and as Secretary. 
In what ways are you currently involved with the Illinois High School Theatre Festival? 
I am honored to be the Executive Director of Festival 2016.
Describe the most challenging/rewarding parts of being the Executive Director for the Illinois High School Theatre Festival. 
One of my first challenges was getting over my own fears and opening the Committee up to new people and letting those new associates know that I was there to help and support them in accomplishing their objectives.  I've been fortunate to get to know and work with some very creative people, and ... they make me laugh.
How can members from ITA divisions other than Secondary get involved in next year's Theatre Festival? 
Present workshops or be on the Festival Committee!

Chicago Improv Productions Puts Their Audience On Stage!
Submitted by Jeremy Schaefer, ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative

Chicago Improv Productions, an ITA member, received this excellent write up in The Chicago Tribune about their recent performance at Pierce Downer School.  As their work consistently demonstrates, improvisation is an excellent means of fostering early participation in spontaneous theatrics.  Read the article to learn more.
Why Children's Theatre Matters
Submitted by Jeremy Schaefer, ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative

In this article, The Guardian does a fantastic job of reminding us all why children's theatre matters.  Please click here to read the article.
Comedy of Errors: Five Lessons on Teamwork and Failure from the Halls of Saturday Night Live
Submitted by Susan Antman, ITA Creative Dramatics Division Representative

Lessons learned from an SNL writer are reprinted in this article from the September 2015 issue of Southwest: the Magazine.