Artists in Schools Directory

   

Hank Fincken

Artist's Narrative

Hank Fincken If the audience/actor interaction and the historical details are what make Hank Fincken's one-man plays unique, it is the crafted scripts that make them art. He spends an average of two years preparing each program, emphasizing historical accuracy, language, and ideas pertinent to our times. He was given the title "Master Artist" by The Indiana Arts Commission, and the Achievement and Service Award by The Indiana Theatre Association. All of his plays have been endorsed by The Indiana Historical Society, The Ohio Humanities Council, and the Indiana Humanities Council. He provides great study guides and has performed throughout the Midwest and South America. A collection of his Midwest history plays was published for use in the classroom. Hank will do all he can to meet your History, Language Arts, Theater, and Social Studies needs.

Hank has added a new STEM component to all his plays. Details about this, and how his programs meet state standards, are available upon request.

Video
Excerpts from Almost Mr. Edison, Almost.

Can't access YouTube at your school? View the video on SchoolTube here.

Availability

Upon request.
Fees listed are for Columbus-area schools. This artist is based in Indianapolis.

Programs Available

Almost, Mr. Edison, Almost (Grade levels 2-12 )
Ohio's native son, Thomas Alva Edison, may be the world's greatest inventor. He had 1,093 patents and conceived what modern industrial scientists call Research and Development by using a team approach. In this presentation Edison discusses his roots, the reasons for his success, the beginnings of the electric light system, and then shows slides of his greatest inventions. Humor and insight abound.

Watch excerpts from this program here.
Activity Options:
Almost, Mr. Edison, Almost
  • Duration: 50-60 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Prefer stage with audience access and electrical outlet. 300 students max.

Not "Johnny" If You Please (Grade levels K-6)
Seventy-year-old Johnny Appleseed shares some tall tale adventures concerning his travels throughout the Midwest. This is storytelling in theatrical form, legend and fact becoming one. John Chapman was a non-violent man in a violent time and as such, deserves your attention today.
 
A version of this program specially designed just for grades K-2  focuses on creating the Johnny character, and the apple’s importance to pioneers.

Watch excerpts from this program here.
Activity Options:
Not "Johnny" If You Please
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Any "friendly" space where artist can interact with audience. 300 students max.

Francisco Pizarro, To Serve You (Grade levels 5-12)

The conqueror of the Incas was brave, committed, and ruthless. His search for gold cities reminds us of the best and worst in ourselves, and his legacy still affects millions today. Available November - January.

Watch excerpts from this program here.

Activity Options:
Francisco Pizarro, To Serve You
  • Duration: 50 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Prefer stage with audience access and electrical outlet. 300 students max.

Christopher Columbus: The Shame in the Glory (Grade levels 3-12)

The audience plays the Spanish Royal Court as Columbus attempts to explain his goals and deeds. Hank Fincken will make him flesh and blood; the audience must decide for itself whether he is hero or villain.

Watch excerpts from this program here.

Activity Options:
Christopher Columbus
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Any "friendly" space where artist can interact with audience. 300 students max.

Henry Ford: Fit to a "T" (Grade levels 3-12)

The year is 1932. Union/management confrontations are on the rise, unemployment is rampant, and fascism seems a viable political alternative. Henry Ford, the man who put the world on wheels, thinks he has found a solution. During this interactive play, Henry will talk to car dealers (your student audience) about his past, the new Ford V-8, and the future of soybeans. It appears to be an optimistic moment in a negative time.

A special version of this program focusing more on the history of the auto industry and its effects on our lives is available for grades 3-6.

Watch excerpts from this program here.

Activity Options:
Henry Ford: Fit to a T
  • Duration: 50 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Any "friendly" space where artist can interact with audience. 300 students max.

A Pocketful of Rocks (Grade levels 3-12)

An 1849 Argonaut and a modern dad travel the California Trail together, looking for gold and self-understanding. With the help of historical slides, period paintings, and contemporary photographs the true wealth of this country shines brighter than any metal. Available Winter and Spring.

Watch excerpts from this program here.

Activity Options:
A Pocketful of Rocks
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $375/ $650 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Prefer stage with audience access and electrical outlet. 300 students max.

Creative Writing: Tall Tales, Myths, Fables and Legends (Grade levels 3-12)

What makes a tall tale a tall tale, a myth a myth? Why does writing riddles help students better understand poetry and why does writing poetry help students write better prose?  In this workshop, the teacher will choose the kind of writing he/she wants the students to do.  Hank then creates the class to fit the teacher’s needs.   If the teacher chooses to work with the traditional genres, Hank will discuss what makes the genre special and how it is different from the others  Students then work in groups of two or three before sharing their writing by reading their work aloud.  Hank encourages feedback from the students.  How is the story true to the genre?  What can be done to make it better?  What word choices made the piece come alive?

Hank has samples of his own work that show the difference between a decent first draft and a quality final draft. If you want your students to write tall tales, Hank will start with an original one he wrote himself.  Hank will  use his theater experience to help students read their work aloud with energy and enthusiasm.

In this program participants will:

  • Come to appreciate the different kinds of traditional stories
  • Develop appreciation for language and imagery
  • Come to a clearer understanding of the step by step process of writing specific genres
  • Explore the role of conflict in short stories

Teachers should be prepared to discuss their educational goals when requesting the program. The program content will be customized to each teacher's needs.

Activity Options:
Creative Writing: Tall Tales, Myths, Fables and Legends
  • Duration: 45-60 min.
  • Fees: $175/ $100 each addt'l
  • Requirements: 50 students max.

Learning to Write Well and Read Better (Grade levels 2-12)

Hank Fincken has published some thirty short stories, essays, and a book of plays. Each reflects his love of language, structure, and ideas pertinent to our times. In this interactive workshop, students will discuss the differences between writing fiction and non fiction and then, depending on the specific needs of the student audience, Hank will give a dramatic reading of his work. During the reading, Hank points out specific word choices and imagery that helps the listener experience the story or essay. A discussion follows in which students will be encouraged to debate the author's goals and how issues or conflict were or were not resolved.

For younger students, this program will focus on stories based on Andean myths, tall tales, and fables. For older students, stories that deal with cross cultural experiences, high school, and life itself will be explored.

When the focus is on non-fiction, Hank will read from some of his published essays.  His work includes biographies, contemporary issues, and satire.

Teachers should be prepared to discuss their educational goals when requesting the program. The program content will be customized to each teacher's needs.

Here are two evaluations from two eighth grade teachers who were doing a unit on writing biographies:

  • "Mr. Fincken's love for writing was palpable. What a great role model for students! He is a true writing expert. He gave wonderful information and he was very motivating and encouraging. Finally, he did a fabulous job of tailoring the program to the students' needs. Thanks Hank!"
  • "Hank helped me to better design my lesson plans and instructional strategies. Hank's enthusiasm and knowledge brought a fresh and professional prospective to our biography unit."

In this workshop participants will:

  • Understand the role the senses play in writing
  • Appreciate the importance of word choices to create mind pictures
  • Compare and contrast fiction and non fiction
  • Reinforce the elements of a story and the structure of an essay
  • Compare and contrast the author’s perspective with that of the  reader
  • Explore the relevance of literature to everyday life
Activity Options:
Learning to Write Well and Read Better
  • Duration: 45-60 min.
  • Fees: $175/ $100 each addt'l
  • Requirements: 50 students max.

Workshops on the Creative Process (Grade levels 2-12)

To complement his plays about historical characters, Hank has created unique workshops that explain how an idea can develop into a structured play.  With slides (PowerPoint) and lively discussion, he explains the research, the writing, the rewriting, the rehearsal, the performing, and the marketing behind the production the students have just seen or are about to see.  These workshops include The Incas, Discovering Columbus, The California Trail,  Edison: Man Versus Myth, and Johnny Appleseed: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.  Some workshops relate indirectly to the play, such as Peru Today and the Peruvian Rain Forest.   All workshops provide fascinating insights into history and culture.  
 
Hank Fincken has served as a consultant for education majors at universities in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Tennessee. All workshops can be conducted in Spanish if there is such need.
 
Hank began his career as a Teaching Artist in Indiana.  He developed many workshops on theater for beginning and advanced students.  He also enjoys teaching cooperation and theatre skill games through Creative Dramatics.  The teacher can explain his/her need and Hank will find an entertaining way to meet it. 
 

Activity Options:
Workshops on the Creative Process
  • Duration: 50 min.
  • Fees: $205 ($100 when combined with play performances.)
  • Requirements: 50 students max.