When you hear drama club, what comes to mind? I immediately think of a Glee-esque group of Broadway fans, quoting Hamilton relentlessly while they burst into song at the drop of a hat.
Trying to start a club like that seems like an impossible feat. And it is. Things like that don't exist. What does exist, however, is the possibility to have a productive, engaged group of students rallying around what they love to do good for themselves and others.
So here's how my students and I did it.
Step 1: Talk to Your Upperclassmen
You can't very well have a group if no kids wants to do it, right? So start with your core group of theatre kids, These are typically upper level theatre students with a few shows under their belt. I can be very open and honest with these students and they do the same for me. We talked about having a group to let them manage and build up their resumes. This was a big selling point. Tell them that having leadership roles in extracurriculars is vital to a great college application!
Step 2: Plan and Prepare
For any group to work, you'll need an infrastructure. This means you need a voting system, an application system, a schedule, a board of members and future events/projects.
To keep drama to a minimum, I do an anonymous voting system. When everyone in the theatre department votes, just make sure their ballots only have the person their voting for on it, not the one voting. I promise this will save you some issues between students in the long run.
I make these pretty simple. You can find it in the download guide linked above! It's a quick, simple guide that won't be too intimidating to your students.
I've found that meeting bi-weekly is the best balance. It's often enough to keep your projects top-of-mind, but not so much that kids will be burnt out. I recommend you find out the meeting times and dates of other groups (Student Council, Anchor Club, FCCLA, etc) and find a time that doesn't conflict. You don't want to lose a possible member over a silly scheduling conflict.
The Club Board
These are the nominated and voted leaders in your group. I restrict the possible nominees to those who are either juniors or seniors, and they must have been in at least one show in our theatre department. This ensures that you are getting students with a vested interest in the wellbeing of the department in your board seats. It also is a little insurance to make sure the leaders are older and hopefully more mature. Having the best of the best students leading your group will ensure you get plenty of administrative support for your projects. This is the positions I created for my group:
- Vice President
- Events Chair
Events and Projects
You can refer back to our post on Why You Need A Drama Club At Your School. We mentioned a few projects there. This is where you need to put on your PR hat and brainstorm with your group leaders. Where can this Drama Club make an impact? Who would benefit from our involvement? What school and community events are already happening?
Start answering those questions and you'll have an event calendar full soon!
Step 3: Announce and Nominate
After confirming the need for a group with my main students, I turn to the entire department. I announced that we will be starting a Drama Club and applications and nominations for leaders will be due soon. I gave my students about a week to fill out the application and decide on nominees. But, of course, work around your own schedule.
To clarify, everyone from all grade levels is required to turn in an application if they want to join. But only juniors and seniors can be nominated for positions.
Step 4: Vote!
I set a day for all the theatre students to come in at lunch and do a quick vote. Because I have multiple theatre classes spread out over the day, I never have all the department students together. From there, I announced the results from Twitter! I only post who got which positions, not every applicant accepted.
As for the way I accept or deny applicants, it's simple: if a student has a stable academic record and no major violations of school rules, I let them in. I want to make sure theatre is as accessible as it can be, while making sure hard-working, reliable kids are the top priority.
Step 5: Meet
Set up your first meeting! You'll want to congratulate your leaders on their new positions and let the President take it from there. Sit back and watch your students do something great!
Post Club Set Up
Here's a few things to keep in mind as you manage your Drama Club as a teacher:
- You are their support, not their director (in this context). Let the leaders of the group take charge and learn as they do.
- Use your network of teacher and administrator friends to set up opportunities for your group. You can reach out to the admin to suggest the Drama Club do a skit for inservice, but let you Club leaders take the reigns from there to make it happen.
- Watch out for cliques. This is a preemptive strike against drama (yes, pun intended) in your Drama Club.
- Create an approval process that goes through you. Like I said above, you want these kids to develop leadership skills on their own, but make sure projects are run by you before anything major is done.
- Collaborate with your Drama Mommas! This is one of my favorite ways to utilize both these groups. Let them work together on fundraisers, advertising for the shows, t-shirt designs and more. Both moms and students will be happy for it.
Not too scary, right?
If you want more help getting your drama club started, download our printable guide here!
What you'll get:
A ready-made Drama Club application
Voting ballots ready to use
The exact by-laws my Drama Club abides by every year
Meeting Minutes worksheet for all your members