The dramatic arts, essential to a well-rounded liberal arts education, enable students to explore the human condition through embodying a character, idea or story and through collaborating with others to communicate a shared vision. The pressure of public performance wonderfully focuses the attention on learning the discipline and on building an ensemble. Such face-to-face work is vital for students who increasingly encounter a world mediated through screens. It cultivates self-understanding, self-confidence, self-awareness and self-expression such that one is free to encounter the Other with sympathy, creativity, and courage.
Middle School Theatre Arts
In the sixth grade, students study theatre history. They begin by exploring the origins of theatre through storytelling and mythmaking and learn the basics of stagecraft. For the second half of the course, students survey the different periods of drama; from the classical theatre of the Ancient Greeks to the Renaissance theatre of Shakespeare and the Commedia Dell’Arte to the theatre of the Restoration period and ending with a brief look at various movements within the modern theatre. In addition to acquiring a broad working knowledge of theatre history, students work with a team to write and stage a short play.
Every year we invite the seventh and eighth grade to audition for a middle school production. A team of experienced faculty support the cast and crew as they engage with all aspects of production, encouraging students to take risks not only on the stage as performers, but behind the scenes as designers, composers, technicians and managers. This experience requires students to collaborate fully, embrace responsibility, and strive for excellence. Past productions include The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Fiddler on the Roof.
Upper School Theatre Arts
Upper school students audition for roles as cast or crew members in classic plays, from the ancient to the modern period. The drama faculty trains students to take on full responsibility for all aspects of production, and delights to witness the vigor with which students rise to this challenge. Past productions include Eumenides, Much Ado About Nothing, Les Femmes Savantes, A Raisin in the Sun, 1984, and Arsenic and Old Lace.
Every spring the drama faculty invites seniors to participate in choosing and casting a play that explores their particular concerns and questions. Through drama praxis, they encounter, examine and embody the issue or issues they seek to address. They emerge from this experience not only better able to articulate their concerns (a phenomenon witnessed by audiences during the talk-backs), but also better established in their identity as a class and in their identities as young men and women ready for the college experience. Previous productions include August Wilson’s Fences and Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park.