Introduction

"Orci eu lobortis"

"If you want to learn how to be a professional actor," he said, "that is taught by theater teachers. That's a whole different knowledge set." Dwain not only accurately pinpointed his own expertise, he also shared his priorities. He was focused on educating all of his students, not just the ones he felt might be the next Kelly Clarkson or Jonathan Groff. Mind, this was decades before reality talent shows, Glee and social media influencers created the global obsession with celebrity. Very few of my father's students had any serious desire to pursue careers in the arts.

I think high school drama departments have always been given short shrift. In the 1950s, Mr. J complained that "most high school drama is just a cast-off of the English department-- the school must have a play to finance the prom." Flash forward to the 21st century and we find that high school theater instructors are frequently outsourced to whichever recent university graduate needs some income while they wait for their big theatrical break.

The result in either case is theater activity that is unfocused, inconsistent and ultimately lacking in value to the young people who participate. Instructors are either untrained and give teenagers (who think they know what they're doing) too much rein or are trained but are far more interested in what a glorious, smash-hit will do for their own profiles rather than concentrating on educating young minds.

Preparing the Script  |   Blocking  |   Scheduling Rehearsals  |   Key Technical Positions   |   Trust  

Hansel and Gretel, 1965

Mr. J demanded his young company members respect the show's schedule and he was consistent in that he was equally dedicated to respecting his company's schedule, (more specifically, the parents and family of the company.) To that end, he was scrupulous is preparing and planning the entire production schedule in advance. "Watch out for the gremlins," he warned his students. "They will grab every chance they can to mess things up for you."

The best way to defeat the gremlins is comprehensive preparation-- staying three steps ahead of everything and anticipating every conceivable problem. I have often felt during my own directing gigs that the most significant work I do is done before I even cast the show.

Bye, Bye Birdie, 1981

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Nullam eget felis eget nunc. Sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis rhoncus. Vel turpis nunc eget lorem. Eu tincidunt tortor aliquam nulla facilisi cras fermentum odio. In mollis nunc sed id semper risus. Vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis imperdiet. Eu feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium. Vitae justo eget magna fermentum. Odio morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed adipiscing diam. Dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit.

Faucibus nisl tincidunt eget nullam non nisi est. Et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat interdum. At varius vel pharetra vel turpis nunc eget lorem dolor. Adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis. Lectus vestibulum mattis ullamcorper velit sed. Quis vel eros donec ac odio tempor orci. Pretium quam vulputate dignissim suspendisse in est. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan. Tempus quam pellentesque nec nam aliquam sem et. Dignissim cras tincidunt lobortis feugiat vivamus. Venenatis urna cursus eget nunc scelerisque viverra mauris in aliquam. Massa vitae tortor condimentum lacinia. Feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel. Id porta nibh venenatis cras sed felis eget velit aliquet. Nulla facilisi morbi tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus laoreet.

Et molestie ac feugiat sed lectus vestibulum. Porttitor massa id neque aliquam. Sodales ut etiam sit amet nisl purus. Pellentesque diam volutpat commodo sed egestas egestas fringilla. Amet justo donec enim diam vulputate ut pharetra. Venenatis a condimentum vitae sapien. Pulvinar sapien et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat. Elementum curabitur vitae nunc sed velit dignissim sodales ut. Vel facilisis volutpat est velit egestas dui id ornare. Elit pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus. Dictum at tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum. Ut sem viverra aliquet eget sit. Sit amet aliquam id diam. Vestibulum lorem sed risus ultricies. Orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse interdum. Id neque aliquam vestibulum morbi blandit cursus. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan sit amet nulla. Sit amet commodo nulla facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a. Volutpat ac tincidunt vitae semper quis lectus nulla at volutpat. Cras pulvinar mattis nunc sed blandit libero.

Scheduling Rehearsals

"Orci eu lobortis"

St. Joan, 1970

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Nullam eget felis eget nunc. Sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis rhoncus. Vel turpis nunc eget lorem. Eu tincidunt tortor aliquam nulla facilisi cras fermentum odio. In mollis nunc sed id semper risus. Vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis imperdiet. Eu feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium. Vitae justo eget magna fermentum. Odio morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed adipiscing diam. Dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit.

Faucibus nisl tincidunt eget nullam non nisi est. Et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat interdum. At varius vel pharetra vel turpis nunc eget lorem dolor. Adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis. Lectus vestibulum mattis ullamcorper velit sed. Quis vel eros donec ac odio tempor orci. Pretium quam vulputate dignissim suspendisse in est. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan. Tempus quam pellentesque nec nam aliquam sem et. Dignissim cras tincidunt lobortis feugiat vivamus. Venenatis urna cursus eget nunc scelerisque viverra mauris in aliquam. Massa vitae tortor condimentum lacinia. Feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel. Id porta nibh venenatis cras sed felis eget velit aliquet. Nulla facilisi morbi tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus laoreet.

Et molestie ac feugiat sed lectus vestibulum. Porttitor massa id neque aliquam. Sodales ut etiam sit amet nisl purus. Pellentesque diam volutpat commodo sed egestas egestas fringilla. Amet justo donec enim diam vulputate ut pharetra. Venenatis a condimentum vitae sapien. Pulvinar sapien et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat. Elementum curabitur vitae nunc sed velit dignissim sodales ut. Vel facilisis volutpat est velit egestas dui id ornare. Elit pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus. Dictum at tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum. Ut sem viverra aliquet eget sit. Sit amet aliquam id diam. Vestibulum lorem sed risus ultricies. Orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse interdum. Id neque aliquam vestibulum morbi blandit cursus. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan sit amet nulla. Sit amet commodo nulla facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a. Volutpat ac tincidunt vitae semper quis lectus nulla at volutpat. Cras pulvinar mattis nunc sed blandit libero.

Key Technical Positions

"Orci eu lobortis"

The Doctor In Spite of Himself, 1974

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Nullam eget felis eget nunc. Sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis rhoncus. Vel turpis nunc eget lorem. Eu tincidunt tortor aliquam nulla facilisi cras fermentum odio. In mollis nunc sed id semper risus. Vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis imperdiet. Eu feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium. Vitae justo eget magna fermentum. Odio morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed adipiscing diam. Dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit.

Faucibus nisl tincidunt eget nullam non nisi est. Et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat interdum. At varius vel pharetra vel turpis nunc eget lorem dolor. Adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus mattis. Lectus vestibulum mattis ullamcorper velit sed. Quis vel eros donec ac odio tempor orci. Pretium quam vulputate dignissim suspendisse in est. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan. Tempus quam pellentesque nec nam aliquam sem et. Dignissim cras tincidunt lobortis feugiat vivamus. Venenatis urna cursus eget nunc scelerisque viverra mauris in aliquam. Massa vitae tortor condimentum lacinia. Feugiat pretium nibh ipsum consequat nisl vel. Id porta nibh venenatis cras sed felis eget velit aliquet. Nulla facilisi morbi tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus laoreet.

Et molestie ac feugiat sed lectus vestibulum. Porttitor massa id neque aliquam. Sodales ut etiam sit amet nisl purus. Pellentesque diam volutpat commodo sed egestas egestas fringilla. Amet justo donec enim diam vulputate ut pharetra. Venenatis a condimentum vitae sapien. Pulvinar sapien et ligula ullamcorper malesuada proin libero nunc consequat. Elementum curabitur vitae nunc sed velit dignissim sodales ut. Vel facilisis volutpat est velit egestas dui id ornare. Elit pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus. Dictum at tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum. Ut sem viverra aliquet eget sit. Sit amet aliquam id diam. Vestibulum lorem sed risus ultricies. Orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse interdum. Id neque aliquam vestibulum morbi blandit cursus. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan sit amet nulla. Sit amet commodo nulla facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a. Volutpat ac tincidunt vitae semper quis lectus nulla at volutpat. Cras pulvinar mattis nunc sed blandit libero.

TRUST

"Orci eu lobortis"

In the early '90s, I visited my former first boss, the vice-principal of Sauk Rapids High School and toured the new auditorium they'd completed during the two years since I'd worked as head of the theater department.

It was all very shiny and impressive-- much better than the stage-at-the-end-of-the-gym I'd worked in. When we got to the state-of-the-art lighting board, I asked him how they determined which students were trained to run the board.

"Oh, we won't let students touch this," he said.

I bit my lip almost until it almost bled and practiced a half dozen other exercises to keep me from blurting out that he was a total idiot. "What do you mean you don't let the kids use the lighting board?!?!?!?" I inwardly screamed. "That's part of instructional theater!! Do you know what a professional lighting board operator can make for a living ?!?!?" (Actually, I didn't have a clue but I suspected it was a better gig than acting.)

Compare that attitude with Kevin Fjelsted's memory of Mr. J:

"Mr. J knew how to delegate. If someone was assigned to handle the ticket sales, that meant that they were responsible for the entire process including managing the thousands of dollars that passed through the window. There was absolute trust and absolute expectation that there would be no issues. If Mr. J loaned his master key to all the locks in the school to someone whom he asked to complete a task, he was confident that there would be no problem. No one wanted to violate that trust." - Kevin Fjelsted