Walt Willey has been making a living as an actor, comedian, host, writer and producer for thirty years. Mr. Willey has taught acting and scene study since the late 1980’s. He has been instrumental in the development of several programs for youth involved in the Theatre Arts and is now making a program available to your school. We’ll let Walt tell you about it:
Hello. My name is Walt Willey. Many know me best for my twenty-five years as All My Children’s “Jackson Montgomery”. Making my living in “show business” for all these years has been a delight and I am so grateful - not many actors have this kind of “run”.
Now - as “retired” as I’ll ever be – I am able to pursue a passion of mine. Two passions, actually.
The first is my new one-man show: Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok. Since discovering Hickok and I were born forty miles apart in the same county in Illinois, the researching of this fascinating man and the crafting of this show has been my mission and my goal.
My other passion is reaching out to youth and young adults interested in the Theatre Arts. In my hometown of Ottawa, IL my production company, WilleyWorld Community Productions, and a Not-For-Profit (the Illinois Valley Coalition On Performing Arts) of which I am a board member, have developed an In-School Program I’d like to share with you.
In short, if you have an auditorium that is often used by the community at large and students interested in the performing/theatre arts, you have the tools in place to take advantage of this opportunity.
And you can raise money for your Theatre/Drama/Performing Arts programs!
Please have a look at this program. I am very proud of the work I have done with youth and young adults in Theatre Arts, and hope to be working with you and your students soon!
Thanks for your consideration.
In-School Program Key Points:
In-School Seminars/Workshops in “Acting in the Real World”, “Researching, Writing and Performing a One Character Show”, and “On Your Feet Scene Study” - as well as Individual Coaching - are available at your school’s discretion
Mentoring for students in theatre and stage management and light and audio design and operation for performance of show
Performance for Student Body
Performance for Public / School Fundraiser
How It Works:
In the weeks before the program:
In conjunction with your Drama/Theatre/Performing Arts Department, seminars/workshops/individual coaching opportunities are designed and scheduled.
Set pieces, including a wooden table with 3-4 chairs and a bar (approximately 4’H x 6’L x 3’W) must be procured or constructed.
Mr. Willey’s production company, WilleyWorld Community Productions, in conjunction with the school and community, will begin its “media blitz” to promote the program and shows.
Wednesday: Mr. Willey arrives and will meet with instructors - if they wish – in preparation for the week. Mr. Willey begins local media appearances (with students if possible).
Thursday: the seminars/workshops/individual coaching blocks begin and continue into Friday, with Thursday night an option.
Friday: the seminars/workshops/individual coaching blocks continue and/or a performance (or excerpts from) Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok is performed for the student body or select group during school hours, followed by a question and answer period.
SaturdayNight/Sunday Afternoon: performances of Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok - open to the public - will be performed in your auditorium/performance space. The students in the program will serve as box office and stage managers, light and audio operators, and ushers for these performances.
And your school’s Drama/Theatre/Performing Arts Department makes money!
After the tutorial programs and production meetings are complete, Mr. Willey will give two performances – in your auditorium/performance space – of Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok.
Let’s presume a $20 General Admission ticket and a 300-seat audience, making the potential box office gross: $6,000.
The first $1,500 goes to Mr. Willey for travel expenses (airfare/accommodations/transportation/per diem)
Your school’s Drama/Theatre/Performing Arts Department gets the next 20% of the net box office.
The remaining 80% of the net box office goes to Mr. Willey
So in this example, your Drama/Theatre/Performing Arts Department would make $900 for their use, in addition to offering its students the opportunity to receive instruction from and work with Mr. Willey.
About Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok:
The show is easily mounted with very little set and minimal audio/light cues.
Here’s what some of my students have to say about the Wild Bill! In-School Program:
“I really and truly loved it. I've never learned so much about acting in my life…I've really been thinking about the “moment before”, and that really helps me get the truest emotions possible out of every scene I do.
Hearing the critiques you gave everyone was priceless. It helped so much, and I know that everyone else felt the same way. What I personally found was inspiration to work even harder and think even more about my acting.
You really did do a fantastic job! Thanks so much for everything!”
“(Your classes) were extremely helpful and eye opening. The honest comments were just what someone like me needed to hear. As for doing (The Wild Bill! In-School Program) nationally, I think that's a great idea, not only for the students but to open the eyes of communities to see how important and fun drama is for students.
Also thank you for chatting with me one on one. It really meant a lot to me, and I will definitely look back on it in the future. “
Walt, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the time you spent with us. It was an amazing week for our kids.
The students absolutely adored the multiple acting workshops with you. They learned so much because you quickly established a mentoring relationship that pushed them towards their best performances while making them laugh. You gave them honest, encouraging, useful critiques that can guide them to bigger and better roles. They have talked about it for weeks. Many of them took their new skills into our competition acting team. Auditions will also be coming up in a few weeks, and the students are already planning on using the things they learned from you.
They also truly enjoyed (as did I) your performance of 'Wild Bill'. It was authentic, educational, and riveting. They have a new understanding and appreciation for the amount of energy and stamina required for a one-man show.
We also all gained a great deal from your sharing information on the writing process of the show. We have several budding authors, and it was so very beneficial to hear from you about the need for revision and editing. (You may find it hard to believe, but students frequently think the first thing they write is just 'golden'!)
Finally, I want to thank you for the donation to our theatre department. The $1000 will be used to help build a revolving stage for us. We will use it this spring in our production of "Cinderella". It will be such a wonderful addition to our department, and will allow us to dream even bigger as we chose and imagine the shows that we will do.
Thanks again for all that you do for us. We are better for your involvement with our theatre program. We truly appreciate it.
Sue Williamson, Theatre Department, Ottawa Township High School