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INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE
This upper school class is designed for students with no previous experience with theatre. By examining the different components that work together in order to create a theatrical event, students develop a basic understanding of the art as a collaboration of artists working to entertain and engage an audience. The class will use a problem-solving approach to individual and group projects relating to acting, directing, set design, sound design, costume design, technical theatre, playwrighting and theatre history.
Through exercises, readings and scene work, students take on the question: "How does an actor create the illusion of spontaneous life on stage?" Starting with a Stanislavsky-based approach, students branch into the ideas and techniques of a variety of acting teachers with the goal of discovering how to connect honestly to their work and make clear, strong choices. Additional work may include an introduction to Viewpoints or Laban and Linklater voice. Our goal is to present scene work or produce a simple one-act studio play. Readings and exercises pulled from: A Practical Handbook for the Actor, Acting One, True and False, Respect for Acting, Sanford Meisner on Acting, Freeing the Natural Voice and The Great Acting Teachers and their Methods
THE SWORD AND THE SCRIPT
In a physically active class, students are introduced to basic hand-to-hand combat moves and later to basic swordsmanship with both rapier and broadsword, emphasizing safety and technique. But theatrical violence is meaningless without the context of the scene that gave rise to the fight, so we will spend significant time studying texts and analyzing fight choreography to convey more than simply slashing swords and painful blows. Students will work toward two separate projects over the course of the term; a scene with a two person fight, and a group battle. As we work, we also examine larger questions of the depiction of violence in our entertainment and wrestle with an artist’s responsibility both to reflect a culture obsessed with violence but also to challenge that obsession by showing the human cost.
INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED ACTING
ACTING SHAKESPEARE & BEYOND
This class will help students understand and trust Shakespeare’s language; unlocking the text to connect to the heart of a scene or speech. We'll learn techniques for speaking verse and understanding how repetition, antithesis, ladder structures, and even folio punctuation can spur acting choices. By the end of the class, students may try their hands at "original practices" work, or produce and evening of scenes or a longer cutting. Depending on the interests and skills of each individual class, we might continue our study of how playwrights choose words for specific effect by applying techniques encountered in class to illuminate the words of modern poetic masters including August Wilson, Suzan Lori Parks, Sam Shepard, Ama Ata Aidoo and more.
SCENE STUDY CLASS:
THE REALITY ILLUSION
This is a scene study class for students who have already taken acting one or performed in multiple after-school plays. Through readings and exercises, we'll trace the development of the modern theatre, examining how audiences' ideas of what makes "good acting" has changed over time. We'll look at a wide range of acting teachers and theorists, taking time to put their exercises into practice as we tackle modern, realistic scenes.
DEVISED THEATRE FOR PERFORMANCE
Simply put, we will begin the term with a blank page, and will end with a fully realized production that is conceived, written, directed, performed, and designed by students. A class for advanced students with a strong understanding of theatrical work who are excited about collaborating with others. To feed the work, we’ll also look at current theatrical trends in devised works, and consider traditional as well as more avant garde means of storytelling.
ADVANCED CLASSES (NON-PERFORMING)
For students with considerable production experience and a strong understanding of theatrical collaboration. This class looks at how a director envisions a production, analyzes a script, and draws the clearest work out of her actors and designers. Taking a problem-solving approach, we'll mix practical projects, table work, and readings from some great directors of the western stage.
DESIGN FOR THE THEATRE
We will take a look at how the four major areas of design for the theatre (scenery, lights, costumes, sound) use their unique vocabularies to turn literary ideas into real-life motifs. Students will sketch, model, and experiment and discuss how designers develop a vocabulary for discussing their work and ideas. Some projects will be paper-only, but depending on the rest of the theatre department schedule, there will likely be opportunities for students to design for acting class and projects and assist main stage shows.
Starting with the question “…but what story do I want to tell?” and ending with a playable draft script, this class challenges students to draft dialogues and scenes, create characters, hear their own words read out loud, and to craft a story that will eventually be lived in four dimensions. But before we leap in to drafting, there will be plenty of time to experiment and discover a story worth telling. This class has a writer's workshop format, where students will read each other's work out loud and respond to what they are hearing on an almost daily basis.
COMMEDIA D'ELL ARTE
PUBLIC SPEAKING & DEBATE
MOVEMENT for ACTORS
MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSES
THEATER ARTS 6
This class introduces students to storytelling through theatre. Through theatre games and exercises, students will experience the joy of creative expression through movement and language. We will work cooperatively to learn our way around a theatre space and create an ensemble before choosing a major project for performance. Typically, these projects are devised from scenarios or scripted through repeated improvisation during class. Past projects have included: For the Love of Three Oranges, Pasta Resistance, Lies Lies Lies, and more.
THEATER ARTS 7
7th grade theatre arts continues with the practice of engaging body, voice, and imagination through regular warm up games and exercises. Students begin to tackle the process of creating a character through researching and writing an original monologue from the point of view of someone from history. Our production work uses formal scripts, drawing from works that are inspired by or based on real events in history: The Orphan Train, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, The War of the Worlds.
THEATER ARTS 8
8th grade students developing their voices for the stage as well as tackle physical exercises to expand movement vocabulary on stage. Additionally, students will complete projects to gain a better understanding of theatre as an act of communication to an audience that requires collaboration among writers, actors, and designers. Our production work likely be drawn from classical works or adapted literature, and will rely on a strong ensemble, created through games and explorations.