Reviews for The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide #2: Activities, exercises and techniques for the theatre classroom

Five Stars–Great for any theatre teacher

Great resource

Wicked Witch via Amazon January 15, 2019

Five Stars–Informative

Great for my Acting 101 class — looking forward to getting into it more

-Amazon Customer October 22, 2018

Five Stars

I used many of the ideas in designing my theatre curriculum and lessons.

-David via Amazon January 28, 2018

Five Stars

A great read.

Elizabeth Watkins via Amazon August 7, 2017

Five Stars–My Go To Theatre Book!

I teach a Saturday morning youth workshop and this book has saved my life! I have used many of its lessons and the kids love them! Thank you thank you thank you!

-Ylaine M. Clark via Amazon November 8, 2016

Five Stars–So Useful It Inspires!

Wonderful book for the new theatre teacher. I’ve been teaching seven years, and I’m so happy that I bought this book. I can’t wait for next year to start so that I can implement these units.

-J. Rowan via Amazon May 20, 2016

Four Stars–even has example tests and letters to parents!

Great resource for teachers. Lots of activites laid out in a step by step manner.Even contains example letters to parents, tests and makeup tests.Some units such as choral reading are a bit outdated for my use, but others such as monologue work will be very useful. Arrived in excellent condition and in a timely manner.

Robin Welsh via Amazon December 30th, 2015

Five Stars–I Highly Recommend This Book

I highly recommend this book! I am a high school teacher and was assigned a drama class to teach. I was provided no text books or curriculum; what I taught was entirely up to me and I had to find all of the materials. This book was a lifesaver! It has many wonderful activities my students really enjoyed. In my semester long drama class, about 80% of what I did came from this book!Four Stars

-Livelaughloveandread2014 via Amazon October 25,  2015

Four Stars

For anyone trying to teach Drama, it can be a daunting experience. That’s where this book comes in with various explanations on how to handle small yet important aspects of a scene and so much more. Johnson presents the information in an easy to understand layout with easy to learn “demonstrations”. I like the way everything is written and believe this would make an excellent companion for any teacher trying to teach others how to act, be it for school plays, Sunday School plays or other theatre settings. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.

-Jennifer Strohschein via Goodreads March 2014

Five Stars

Lots of fun, engaging activities!

-M. Stewart via Amazon July 24, 2014

Five Stars––Well Worth The Money

Wonderful book – bought for my daughter who is a creative writer. Lots of ideas if you are teaching. I bought both her first book as well as this one – first book is useful to start as a teacher (almost felt like cheating)and this one had even more advanced techniques in working with students in acting ( anything from monologues to stage fighting). Most helpful will likely be the exercises to introduce topics. She writes from 37 yrs. of experience and feels like you have a colleague at your side helping you prepare your lessons!

-Janice Gomersall via Amazon December 28, 2012

Five Stars––Great Guide for a Drama Teacher to Have

This is a handy-little guide for how to set up a drama class with some great ideas. I particularly liked some of the improv games, especially the ready made scenarios and examples that I could use directly out of the book. Johnson separates the entire span of a class into several units, providing rationales for including them, including choral reading, mime, improv, stage fighting, technical theater, and potentially writing a show. Overall, it was quite a worthwhile purchase and I still refer to it from time to time; it pretty much carried me through my first year of teaching drama.

-D. via Amazon December 15, 2012

Five Stars––An Excellent — and Necessary — Resource

Thank heaven for Margaret Johnson and her pair of books, The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide Volume 1, which deals with the staging of high school theatre, and this volume, which delves into the actual meat of a day-to-day drama classroom. Even though I had taught college theatre courses for a decade, I could not have survived my semester of student teaching — and then my sudden and unexpected acquisition of a job as “real drama teacher” — without either of Johnson’s books. Backed by years of experience, Johnson provides enough in-depth resources (including theatre games, monologue and scene-work assignments, and specific play suggestions) that a novice theatre teacher should have no problem applying her suggestions, laid out in clearly designed units. This book features units on the selection and staging of student-written shows, how to safely practice stage combat, and beginning of the year letters for parents of drama students.

If you are a drama teacher, a coach, or a teacher unexpectedly handed anything theatrically related, you must buy this book. Margaret Johnson, a seasoned actress, director, designer, and teacher, will never steer you wrong.

-Laramie Dean-Young Amazon August 22, 2012


 Reviews for The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide: A complete handbook  for play production

Five Stars–Awesome

Haven’t gotten too deep into this one yet but at first glance I’m so excited for what it has to offer!

Amazon Customer October 22, 2018

Five Stars–This Woman Is Brilliant!

Because I loved the other book I will be using this for the summer so I will be directing!
 –Ylaine M. Clark via Amazon November 8, 2016

 Five Stars–This Manual is a Godsend.  Thank you Mrs. Johnson.

This manual is a god-send. Thank you, Ms. Johnson for your hard work. It makes an otherwise stressful new job a lot easier.

Frank R. Considine via Amazon September 10, 2016

Four Stars–Lots of Info

The book is everything it claimed to be.

mrsrivers vai Amazon  September 5, 2016

Four Stars–So It’s Only Slightly Useful for Middle School

I was hoping it would be more general. But it seems to focus on High School theater…so it’s only slightly useful for middle school.
OnARockinInTheMiddleOfTheSea via August 30, 2016

 Five Stars–A World of Experience

Margaret’s books always have wonderful hints – humorous presentation – a world of experience.

-Bill Rice via Amazon March 26,2016

Five Stars–Excellent Practical Guide for Teaching Theatre!

This was a gift for a young friend who is about to begin her first year of teaching. It’s an excellent book with lots of help for theatre teachers of all experience levels! She has begun reading it in preparation for fall!

Martha Summey via Amazon June 20, 2015

Putting On A Play For Newbies

Let’s put on a show! Problem is, you have never put on a show before. A veteran high school drama teacher dispenses some great advice on how to shepherd your school or community towards a rousing performance. She walks you through the whole process, check-lists in hand, assuming you’ve never done it before. How long/often to schedule rehearsals, what to audition, how to cast, how to block, when to set the lighting, how to make effective costumes on the cheap, all the way to what to do about tickets. I’ve used four or five other beginner production guides but they tend to dwell on the technical aspects. Johnson’s guide tackles the whole multi-month long adventure. This unassuming but dense guide is aimed squarely at high school drama productions, but it works great for camp directors, small-town community theater, or any other newbie hoping to put on a show.

Sample Excerpts:

Off-book rehearsals (five to six days)

Off-book literally means that the actors go through the segments without using their scripts. The key word for these rehearsals is memorization. Your actors are giving the characters life and need to begin developing relationships with other characters. They cannot do that if their heads are in their books.

You need to check that each actor has memorized both their blocking and their lines. This means that the actors do not have any scripts in their hands. These rehearsals are hard, frustrating, and extremely important. You must stick to your guns. No books allowed on-stage during this group of rehearsals or afterwards – ever, ever, ever! No “nanny” blankets for the actors! You are inflexible here.



Principles of movement

The following principles of movement have been developed through stage experience. They are not rules – acting in the theatre defies rules. The following principles of movement need to be modified at times to fit the needs of you and your actors. Usually, characters:


Food that is eaten


-KK  COOLTOOLS  December 30, 2013

Five Stars–A Great Guide

Although I am already an experienced veteran of the theater, I bought this book in preparation for a job as drama teacher at a local high school. This book is highly informative, extremely in depth, and highly organized. After reading it, I felt as though I was armed and ready for my first day as the new theater director. Great book!

-Ritch Jaxon vai Amazon June 16, 2013

Five Stars–Helpful for teachers and aspiring teachers

Almost a step by step instruction on how to be a successful teacher … From contracts to tryouts to costumes to rehearsal to final performance…..with little solutions for the inevitable hiccups along the way- like how to get stage makeup stains out. Her side bars on pitfalls to avoid will save headaches and make you look good in front of the whole drama department. (Almost feels like cheating to have it all laid out for you!) I bought her advanced book as well which would be great if you have already done a few productions.

-Janice Gomersall via Amazon December 28, 2012

Four Stars–Act One…Learn

This was a very useful tool for a fledging class.  My students have enjoyed doing the various activities.  I would highly recommend it!

-C. Moore via Amazon November 26, 2011

Five Stars–Excellent Thorough Teacher’s Guide

My daughter wanted a comprehensive review before starting to teach drama.  She was very pleased with this guide and how thoroughly it covered all the material.

-Karen Estes  via Amazon May 1, 2011

Three Stars–Good For A Very Beginner

Most of this book centers on the actual production process of putting on a show. If you’re looking for a balanced teaching tool for all parts of classroom work, look elsewhere.

– Board Game Babe via Amazon April 22, 2011

Five Stars–Fabulous Guide for an Inexperienced, New Drama Teacher!

This book is amazing!! I could not live with out it! I am a brand new Middle School drama instructor (I have no training in drama and have only taught MS choir for the last 3 years) and am supposed to put on a musical this spring. So, this book tells me everything I need to know so I can put on a show. It explains how to choose a show, how to choose a cast, how to get your administrators and community on board, who to hire on a limited budget, etc. I am very pleased!

Alicia Marie Hickman vai Amazon December 8, 2010

Five Stars–The Best Out There

This is probably the best, all round, “how to” book for theatre teachers I have ever seen. No amount of classroom games, theatre exercises and readings of Shakespeare will ever prepare you for mounting a play like this book does. I started my 30 year teaching career with an MA in theatre and would have given anything to have had this book when I started. It is excellent!

-S. Scoville via Amazon May 11, 2010

 Five Stars–Everything You Need!

Excellent source if you are putting on a full-scale production for middle or high school.

 Three Stars–Good But Still Incomplete.

This book’s subtitle says that it is a complete tool kit for the theater arts. While itdoes cover all aspects of producing a play it does not cover the essentialelement of the drama teacher’s job: drama class. I purchased this book hoping that it could help me with my day to day class, but instead I got everything I need toknow about doing a production (which is not my job at my school.) So, if you’re looking for help producing a show by all means pick this book up, but if you’re looking for something thatwill help you in a drama class setting this book is seriously incomplete.

M. Grady via Amazon August 10, 2009

It is from this review that I sat down and started working on my new chapter dealing with classroom activities, which evolved into my second book, The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide #2 . The author was absolutely right.

 Five Stars–Excellent!

I purchased this book when I was preparing to direct a play in which children as well as adults would appear and I wanted tips on working with children. The children I worked with were younger and much less experienced than Ms. Johnson’s groups but I found her her very honest anecdotes helpful. Thankfully, my experience is almost over and while it’ll be a long time before I’ll want to work with youth theater again, this book was a great reference.

Ms. Johnson’s advice on solving the universal problems stemming from competing for space, time and personality conflicts as well as the importance of providing a respectful atmosphere and positive reinforcement were quite valuable and not just useful in a school setting. My young (and old!) actors responded well and managed to finish the play’s run on excellent terms with each other and the theater. If I ran a school drama program, I’d be using this book daily.

– Jody, via Amazon, February 9, 2009

Five Stars–Great Buy

This was a great purchase that I wish I had from the beginning of my drama career. It was still very helpful.

– Christina G. Casale, via Amazon, January 14, 2009

 Five Stars–Great Resource

I am entering my 10th year as a Theatre teacher and I still found this book useful. It is a good reminder of those things you have let slip over the years for whatever reason. I think it is a good refresher for us old dogs, but I think it would be a wonderful resource for a first or second year teacher, too. I loved it.

– Rosalie Hull, via  Amazon, July 22, 2008

Five Stars–Wonderful Tool For Anyone Involved In Theater

This handy guide covers literally every aspect of putting on a production, and not only does it apply to high school theater, it is extremely helpful for any level of theater, from elementary, to high school, to amateur, to community, to professional.

Margaret Johnson covers basics from selecting shows, to securing the theater, to casting and auditions to opening night. The best part is that this book doesn’t read like stereo instructions, there are personal touches from the author through out including her memories and stories of different shows she has worked on. This book also includes audition sheets and other pages you can photo copy to pass out and have actors fill out. Literally every question you could possibly have involving your theatrical production, this book covers it. Nothing will remain unanswered. Also, it’s important to note that I’m not a high school drama teacher, but I am a long-time theatrical passionate and I have been using this book as a holy grail while directing my first show.

– Erick Rasmussen, via Amazon, April 29, 2007

Teaching and Directing Youngsters

Most young people love making theatre if given the opportunity, but they demand activities and dramatic material that relate to who they are — newly emerging individuals struggling with school, friends and parents, eager to explore and find a place in the great big world. This month’s roundup of new books speaks to those needs from the viewpoint of both the youngsters and the adults who guide them. Since many schools no longer have drama programs, teachers in related (or even unrelated) disciplines often find themselves pressed into service to put on a play. They find themselves in the same position as the newbie full-time theatre arts instructor — where to begin? To the rescue comes The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide: A Complete Tool Kit for Theatre Arts. Author Margaret F. Johnson provides detailed, step-by-step information, examples and suggestions about how to direct a school drama program with a minimum of mistakes, trouble and delay. Most important for the beginning director, Johnson provides examples, illustrations, photos and reproducible handouts and forms, plus an annotated list of additional resources.

– Stephen Peithman,  Stage Directions Magazine, Jun 6, 2007

Five Stars–The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Both experienced and beginning drama directors have easy, experience-backed tips on directing from THE DRAMA TEACHER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE: A COMPLETE TOOL KIT FOR THEATRE ARTS. When this book says ‘complete’ it means it: collections strong in drama will appreciate the range of tips from instructions on organizing tryouts ñ complete with tryout sheets ñ to blocking out rehearsals, technical aspects of scene set-up, tips on locating costumes, and more. It’s a ‘must’ for any library which caters to actors or drama teachers.

– Midwest Book Review, July 2007

For anyone directing or working with student drama productions The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide will prove an invaluable resource.  The nearly four decades that author Margaret Johnson spent as a drama teacher and director inform this well-rounded book of tips, as she discusses both the artistic and logistical aspects of theatrical production. The presentation and style of the writing allow easy access to the suggestions, anecdotes, and troubleshooting guides Johnson has compiled.

Johnson, who taught drama for 37 years at Sentinel High School in Missoula, lays out her ideas with the assurance of someone who knows the art of extracurricular directing and diplomacy through and through. Yet with all her advice and administrative wisdom, Johnson never loses sight of the ultimate goal: to bring the hard work of cast and crew to the public as successfully and painlessly as possible in order to really enjoy the art of process and performance.

– Bente Grinde  MONTANA ARTS COUNCIL State Of The Arts, September/October 2007

Whether you are a seasoned drama director or a beginner, you will find this book to be an invaluable tool kit of aid and assistance! Written specifically for the middle school or high school drama director, this book is about how one person can run a successful extracurricular drama program, from administrative detail and play selection to the actual performance before an audience. This is not intended as a manual or a comprehensive study of stagecraft but rather as a collection of suggestions and vignettes of personal experience. Nineteen chapters cover everything from rehearsal schedules to budgets to hair and makeup. It’s just possible, though, you’ll love the additional resources even more with 20 pages of various reproducible forms to use and hand out, followed by an extensive glossary of theatrical terms and a bibliography of additional resources. Published in 2007, this book is an exceptional value for only twenty bucks!

– Pioneer Drama Service, Fall 2007

Margaret Johnson has collected the knowledge she accumulated during thirty-seven years of teaching drama into this 256-page book, which is subtitled “A Complete Tool Kit for Theatre Arts.” It’s basic enough to serve as a blueprint for teachers who are just starting out, but also filled with details and savvy production tips that veteran drama directors will find useful, too. 256 pages

– EdTA store, Fall 2007