Behind the Scenes in the School Communications Department at The National Theatre for Children

Educational theatre in schools is the lifeblood of The National Theatre for Children. With this in mind, gaining access to schools falls to our School Communications department. This department creates lists of schools to call, maps the routes for the tours, distributes scheduling materials (both printed and digital), not to mention calling all of the schools and scheduling the dates and times for the performances.

Today we take a deeper look at our School Communications representatives – the folks who call schools across the nation. From the call center (affectionately known as “The Ball Pit”), each representative is assigned a call list and makes anywhere from 40 – 60 calls per day. And since they know educators are very busy, many of these calls end in detailed voice mail messages, which result in schools calling back or going online and scheduling performances. But when an educator has a moment to chat about our programs, our School Communications experts kick into high gear, using their skills and knowledge to help facilitate the educator’s decision.

The School Communications Department, Halloween 2017

While there are many details involved in scheduling a program, NTC reps pride themselves on making everything as simple and convenient as possible for the teachers. A rep can pull up a myriad of data for each calling area on their computer, allowing them to inform educators of specific available dates as well as nearby schools we’re planning to visit. At a glance, we can see our history with the school and provide testimonials from other educators we’ve visited in the past—basically anything that will make that school’s decision simple and allow them to feel confident in their choice to bring NTC to their students.

Sometimes the energy in the Ball Pit resembles the stock exchange with all of the calls and simultaneous conversations. In addition to kudos from management (and the satisfaction of a job well done), the best reward for a School Communications rep is getting to ring the Ball Pit Bell, alerting the whole office that another school has made the smart decision to host an NTC program!

Class Project

We have several guidelines we use when scheduling shows. Answer these simple math problems to see if your class has what it takes to be an NTC rep:

A troupe of actor’s needs 1/2 hour before the scheduled show time to put up their scenery, and another 1/2 hour afterward to take it down. The program is 25 minutes long. The average travel distance a troupe can move is 50 miles in an hour.

  1. Adams Elementary is scheduled for a 10 a.m. program. What time must the actors arrive and what time will they depart?

    ANSWER: The actors must arrive by 9:30 a.m. and will depart at 10:55 a.m.

  2. The three schools below have requested an afternoon program following the Adams Elementary morning presentation. Using the guidelines above and the information listed, determine which school can be put on the afternoon schedule.
    • A. Monroe Elementary, 80 miles away, would like to schedule a 1:30 p.m. performance.
    • B. Jackson Elementary, 65 miles away, would like to schedule a 12:30 p.m. performance.
    • C. Taylor Elementary, 45 miles away, would like to schedule a 12:15 p.m. performance.

    ANSWER: A. Monroe Elementary can be scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. performance using the guidelines above.

Departing Adams at 10:55 a.m. the drive time will be 1 hour, 36 minutes, putting us at Monroe at 12:31 p.m. Adding the ½ hour for set-up brings us to 1:01 p.m., almost 1/2 hour before the 1:30 p.m. start time. For Jackson and Taylor the computed drive time and the required 1/2 hour set up time will not meet the requested starting times.