T H E A T R E C U R R I C U L U M
6th Grade Theatre Arts
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 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.
7th Grade Theatre Arts
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.
8th Grade Theatre Arts
As we move deeper into a study of theatre, we not only begin each class with a warm up, but gain a strong understanding of how preparation pays off in rehearsal and performance. We will do more work on developing the voice for the stage as well as tackling physical exercises to expand each student’s movement vocabulary on stage. Additionally, students will complete projects to gain a better understanding of theatre as a collaborative act of communication among writers, actors, and designers. Our production work will rely on a strong ensemble, and may tackle classical works or adapted pieces from literature. Past projects include: The Miser, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Odyssey, Macbeth,and more.
Introduction to Theatre
This upper school class is designed for students who have not studied theatre in middle school. By examining the different components that must work together in order to create a theatrical event, students develop a basic understanding of theatre as a collaboration of artists working to entertain and engage an audience. The class will take on projects relating to acting, directing, set design, sound design, costume design, run crews, playwrighting and theatre history.
Students begin the process of learning how to analyze a scene and bring a character to life on stage. Starting with a Stanislavsky-based approach for playing objectives, students explore and experiment with the ideas and techniques of a variety of acting teachers and theorists with the goal of beginning to discover what helps them to connect honestly to their work and make clear, strong choices. Additional work including an introduction to Viewpoints or Laban movement work and Linklater voice prepares students for a final presentation of scene work or the production of a 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.
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, hear their own words read out loud, and to craft a story that will eventually be lived in four dimensions.
Devised Theatre in Performance
The class will begin with a blank page, and will end with a fully realized production, directed, written, and designed by the students. We’ll look at current theatrical trends in devised works, determine our intended audience, and work together to bring a theatrical event to life.
Acting for Musical Theatre
This course looks at the job of an actor in musical theatre to use music, text, and movement to convey meaning. In addition to the practical work of learning the conventions of musical theatre staging and gaining skills in how to 'act a song,' the class will also look at recorded examples of musical theatre in action to trace the development of the form. Finally, we'll all end up saying "in a musical, when you have too much emotion to speak, you sing. When you have too much emotion to sing, you dance!" a lot.
The Sword and The Script
In a physically active class, students are introduced to basic swordsmanship and a philosophy of stage combat. Through scene study, 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 but also to challenge it and show the potential cost.
Acting Shakespeare (and beyond)
The class learns how to understand and trust Shakespeare’s language and use the text to connect to the heart of a scene or speech. Time will be spent working with techniques for speaking verse and understanding how repetition, antithesis, ladder structures, and even folio punctuation can be used to spur performance choices. By the end of the class, students have a stronger appreciation for the ways in which playwrights choose words for specific effect, and in addition to scene work in Shakespeare, will also practice techniques learned from class to illuminate the words of modern poetic masters including August Wilson, Suzan Lori Parks, Sam Shepard, and more.
Design for Theatre
We 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 learn how designers develop a vocabulary for discussing their work and ideas.
For students with production experience and a strong understanding of the basic aim of theatre, this class looks at how a director envisions a production, analyzes a script, and draws the clearest work out of her actors and designers.