Storyteller Harlynne Geisler
http://storyteller.swiftsite.com.
858-569-9399 E-mail: storybag[a]juno.com
Storytelling in San Diego, Southern California, and the World
Especially Storytelling School Assemblies in San Diego County

How to Book a School Assembly

copyright 2002 by Harlynne Geisler

ďTo speak is to sow; to listen is to reap.Ē
Turkish proverb


Congratulations! You've just become the assembly coordinator for your school. Now you have to book the assemblies, but you've never done it before. Here's the answers to the questions you're thinking.

Where do you find assembly performers?

Ask the school staff, previous program chairpeople, public librarians, and other performers whom they recommend. Attend shows at the public library, coffeehouses, and festivals.

Questions to ask before hiring assembly performers:

Note: When calling to book an artist, first identify yourself, your position, and your school. If you are looking for a performer for a specific occasion, date, or age level, state this at the beginning of the conversation. It may save time for you both. For instance, you may need a storyteller for spooky tales at a Halloween assembly for junior high students on October 28 from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. Perhaps this particular performer only has scary tales suitable for elementary students or is already booked for another engagement for that morning. She or he may be able to suggest someone who can fulfill your requirements.

1. What experience do you have as a performer in schools?
2. Can you give me any references?
3. Can you send me a brochure?
4. Where can I see you perform?
5. What do you charge? (Only ask this after explaining exactly what you are hiring the performer for, as this may make a difference in the fee. If you canít afford the fee, the performer asks for, donít be afraid to tell her or him what you can afford. Often performers are willing to negotiate.)

Questions to ask once you've hired an assembly performer:

1. Do you have any special requirements, such as a mike on a stand, a glass of water, children seated in rows on the floor, blackboard, particular type of introduction, etc.?
2. How long is each assembly? (Let the artist know if s/he must stick exactly to the time allotted.)
3. How much time is needed between shows?
4. Does s/he have an introduction s/he wants you to read, or special things s/he'd like you to say during your own introduction?
5. May the show be videotaped or audio taped? (Never spring this request at the last minute. Ask in advance if you plan to tape an assembly.)
6. Does s/he have a contract to be signed? (If the performer doesn't, send a confirmation letter clearly listing directions to the site, its address and phone number, the name of the person in charge, dates and times of all presentations, specific details on what the performer is hired to do, and what your obligations are, such as providing a mike or copying handouts. NEVER change the schedule or any details without informing the performer in advance. Notify the performer if invoices need to be sent and to what staff person and address.)

Preparing for the Assemblies:

1. Make sure that the room you're using for the assemblies does not have anything else scheduled to be in it at that time. Be sure that the assemblies are listed on any scheduling calendar for that room and for the school. (You don't want half the school gone on a field trip that day!)
2. Make sure the staff knows about the assemblies' date and times and which grades are coming to which assembly. This is generally done through the school secretary. If the performer has asked that the grades not be mixed (such as no kindergartners at the sixth graders' assembly), be sure the staff knows.
3. Make sure that all the performer's requirements (such as mike on a stand) can be met. Always do this weeks in advance, and then check on this the day before the assemblies.
4. Make sure that the performers' payment is arranged, and tell the performer if extra paperwork needs to be filled out.

Saying thanks to an assembly performer:

Flowers, a good meal, or a sign made by the students is always a nice touch, but a letter that mentions specific things that the children and staff enjoyed and learned from the assemblies--including feedback on how to improve them--is most appreciated. An excellent way to say thanks to a good performer is to recommend them to other schools. That way you support the artist and the art.

More about one assembly performer:

Storyteller Harlynne Geisler's answers to "Questions to ask before hiring assembly performers" and to "Questions to ask once you've hired an assembly performer" are below. Also read her School Assemblies and Workshops page. Then call or e-mail her at the offices of The Story Bag; A Storytelling Newsletter to find out more about her Multicultural Folk Tales, Spooky Stories, or Holiday Tales assemblies and to learn how she can spend a full day at a school teaching the students, staff, and/or parents about storytelling and creative writing.

Storyteller Harlynne Geisler's answers to "Questions to ask before hiring assembly performers":

1. What experience do you have as a performer in schools?
I have told for hundred of thousands of students in elementary schools in California, Illinois, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico, Washington, and Oregon since 1980. (Iíd be happy to add your state to the list of where Iíve performed--just book me!)
2. Can you give me any references?
See my School Assemblies and Workshops page.
3. Can you send me a brochure?
Actually, you might consider all my web pages that you are browsing as a giant brochure, but I'd be happy to send you any other information you need.
4. Where can I see you perform?
See my A Calendar of Upcoming Storytelling Shows and Workshops page which lists public shows at libraries and festivals. Ask me what schools I am telling at in your area so you can observe, if the school gives permission.
5. What do you charge?
My fees depend upon your location and number of shows. I am willing to work within your budget, so feel free to tell me exactly what you have to spend on my assemblies.

Storyteller Harlynne Geisler's answers to "Questions to ask once you've hired an assembly performer":

1. Do you have any special requirements?
I like to have a mike on a stand and the children seated in rows on the floor, but I am flexible about the seating arrangements.
2. How long is each assembly?
My assemblies run approximately 40 minutes, once the students are seated, and I do pre-show activities as they come in. I can fit my shows to your schedule, however.
3. How much time is needed between shows?
It's a good idea to have at least 15 minutes between shows to allow one group to get out and the next to get settled.
4. Does s/he have an introduction s/he wants you to read, or special things s/he'd like you to say during your own introduction?
I introduce myself, so it's one less thing you have to take care of.
5. May the show be videotaped or audio taped?
Pieces of my shows may be taped, as long as no complete story is taped. I do not have copyright permission from publishers for this.
6. Does s/he have a contract to be signed?
I will send you two copies of a performance confirmation. You can mail one copy back to me once you've checked the details. On the day of my visit I will give the school a packet of reproducible handouts to tie storytelling into the curriculum.

Storyteller Harlynne Geisler
858-569-9399
Tales from the Story Bag
5361 Javier Street
San Diego, CA 92117-3215
Fax: 858-569-0205
E-mail: storybag[a]juno.com

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