Confidence Builder

By Shannon Boatwright

One of my very favorite things in life is witnessing another individual gain confidence.

Inspiring others has always been part of my drive as a performer, producer, director, as a human in general, and certainly as a teacher. Right up there with inspiring others is seeing someone’s confidence grow and shine before your very eyes as a result of your own influence. Being a teacher definitely gives me an open sea of opportunity to attempt to build confidence in the young adolescents I have the honor of teaching.

lights-951000_1920The past two weeks I’ve been holding auditions for my honors drama program. I see tons of kids come in busting at the seams with nervous energy. Sometimes their nervous energy is crippling, creating a bumbling mess that physically renders them unable to speak straight, stand straight, or even think straight.  I make it my mission, whether there’s outstanding talent present or not, to create an environment that makes them feel comfortable. I truly make major efforts to let them know I’m on their side. I want them to shine and enjoy the moment, just like they do when they’re privately practicing the art they’re intrigued with.

We all are superstars in the comfort of our own homes, cars, or showers. We work it and envision ourselves just like the celebrities we idolize on the big screen. When we’re in our own space wrapped up in our intrigue and passion, we let it go, shine, and rock it out with everything we’ve got, so why is it when most of us get in front of others, or in particular situations, we suddenly become unable to produce anything even close to worthy of sharing our passion, much less our talent? We all have the potential. Again, whether true skill is present or not, we have the potential to let loose and share our love for whatever art form fills us up. However, it’s difficult for a hardcore, nervous person to truly have fun in the moment that they’re auditioning for anything.  It’s real life. It’s nerves. It’s utter fear in some cases.

Confidence - Own it

Whenever I’m able to actually provide comfort and encouragement for someone to shine, whether on a small or large level, it’s truly a priceless and beautiful thing to witness if that person’s confidence comes forth. To see an individual reach a level in which they feel OK, capable, successful, and self-assured, is a lovely thing to witness – sometimes so much so that it’s a real heart filling moment that brings honest joy.

I had a young man come in to audition and he obviously had a spark about him. He had pizazz. It was in him, and I could see that he knew he could do it, but he had not had the time to memorize his monologue and the memorization part was totally holding him back. I could even tell he was trying to improvise his way through the monologue but just got hung up on flat out not remembering the words. He began saying, “I can’t do it, I just can’t do it…” I couldn’t tell if it was part of the monologue or him actually giving up. I had to ask, “What’s happening here?” With tears in his eyes, he proceeded to declare, “I just can’t do drama; I couldn’t memorize it!” I then asked him how long he’d had the monologue, in which he replied he’d just gotten it that day. Which means he’d memorized half of the long monologue in a very short amount of time and even seemed to capture the character as well. I applauded him on doing as well as he did in such a short amount of time and let him know I could tell that he was talented, totally capable of doing this monologue, and that I was going to need to see him do his thing! I let him hold the script in his hands, gave him direction and had him re-audition. The kid proceeded to nail it. He connected with the camera, he showed character and in turn felt great about it. Due to my encouragement, he was able to share his love for acting and give a really great audition. I was able to watch a child’s confidence literally soar right before my very eyes. Priceless.

Spread Confidence

It just goes to show that if you respond to others positively and provide a little encouragement, you can really help another individual shine. The really beautiful thing is that as I dedicate time towards building confidence in others, my own confidence grows. Being a confidence builder is a priceless thing. How do you help build confidence in others? What elements help to build your own confidence?

Stunning Success

By Shannon Boatwright

For the 2017-2018 school year, this phrase, “stunning success”, has become my new favorite…

Stunning

adjective

extremely impressive or attractive.

synonyms remarkable, extraordinary, staggering, incredible, outstanding, amazing, astonishing, marvelous, phenomenal, splendid;

 

This phrase, “stunning success” was used to describe one of my productions with my honors students this past year – and by the playwright herself, no less.

My 2017-18 school year has been one of my busiest – which I say that every year and each year I seem to top myself in the busy department. But this past year, I can with confidence say, was a remarkable, outstanding, marvelous, impressive year! Certainly stunning!

I had my heaviest workload yet as a teacher/director responsible for the success of three big productions throughout the school year.  One of the productions being the school district musical. This was a huge undertaking that required an enormous amount of time and effort, and my first time ever directing a school district wide production. Needless to say, it was a major relief when myself, my production team and cast’s hard work paid off with, yes, a stunning success.

I produced and directed one of largest, most successful 8th grade honors drama performances, gaining recognition from the playwright, Lindsay Price with the reputable, drama resource company, Theatrefolk.

Stunning Success: Shuddersome: Tales of Poe

And using the same fabulous resource of Theatrefolk, I produced and directed another play from their catalogue by playwright Lindsay Price, called Box, for the 7th grade honors drama end of the year production. It too was a surprising, stunning success.

pic 1To know that you were able to inspire audiences and talented, young individuals, is a real gift. I’m exhausted from having such an overwhelming, busy school year, but I am ever grateful for the hard work and dedication having paid off.  So I’ve decided that the phrase, “Stunning Success”, is my 2017-2018 mantra that I plan to continue grasping ahold of as I enter new phases of my life. I hope that I can continue doing extraordinary things, making remarkable differences in others lives and continue to create stunning successes!

And I’d like to take the moment here to remind you and myself, that we have the ability to be stunning in everything that we do. We don’t have to accomplish major things, achieve big awards or direct huge shows to be stunning. We can be stunning in the little things as well! So my challenge to myself and to everyone is to do your best to be stunning – find ways to be extraordinary, marvelous, outstanding and amazing on every level. Whether with a smile or act of kindness to a stranger, in the special time with family & friends, in taking steps to take care of yourself…infuse a dose of fabulousness in all that you do. I am certain it will make your life more splendid. Stunning, in fact. 😉

The Beauty of Arts Integration

By: Shannon Shull

I recently have had the honor of teaching and leading arts integration at Batesburg-Leesville Elementary School. Can I just say – what an amazing experience and opportunity! Let me define “arts integration” for you…

Arts integration is the collaboration between the arts and other academic content areas resulting in a richer, more complete whole that fosters deep, connected, personal learning in both areas simultaneously.

Creating Tableaus with Teachers

I am what they call a “teaching artist.”  I am a trained performer, with a focus of acting and dance, that infuses the arts into regular school curriculums. I get great joy from being a teaching artist!

Me doing dance immersion with fellow teaching artists

So how does arts integration help me? Understanding arts integration helps round out my artistry.  Knowing how to integrate the arts and actually engaging in integrating the arts only enhances my pool of talents and allows me the precious opportunity to share my passions on a very unique level.  As a performer, you seek to entertain and gain great joy from entertaining — add teacher to that equation and you’re knighted with this priceless opportunity to let the arts lead the way alongside education, enriching everyone’s lives.  To me, arts integration means tapping into a student’s imagination and engaging them so much into the subject and art form, that they don’t recognize how very much they’re learning — due to the fact that they’re having so much fun!

Last summer I had the honor of training at Greenville County, Smart Arts, and Metropolitan Arts Council sponsored training institutes and I participated in Kennedy Center’s Artists as Educators Seminars. It was a total thrill for me! I seriously loved every bit of it. Working with school teachers and other teaching artists opened my mind and broadened my teaching horizons. Sounds cheesy I know, but hey, it’s my thing!

Dance Immersion

Amazing things happen and great knowledge is attained when the arts help to bring school subjects to life. All that being said, I hope those of you who read this will also be supporters of arts integration and encourage your local schools to take advantage of the huge benefits the arts can have on education.  It’s a beautiful thing to see a child grasp the knowledge and have so much fun learning!