On the heels of winning the state relay championships last month, the girls take the overall state title as well, the program's first in eight years.
As a part of the academic curriculum, the four elective courses that comprise the Drama program in the Upper School demand that the students use themselves, express their unique personalities and life experiences, find their own voice in the service of artistic creation. In a real sense they are the primary material of all the Drama courses. At the same time the courses in the program require that the students learn a discipline, a craft that develops a variety of personal resources and academic skills: listening, concentration, physical flexibility, emotional self awareness, openness to others, critical reading skills and analysis, problem solving, etc. At the core of the work is the development of the dramatic imagination. This kind of learning is unique to the dramatic arts.
Unlike the other academic disciplines, Drama is always about the “Other.” This requirement to involve, acknowledge and, at times, sublimate the “Self” in favor of the “Other” makes the Dramatic Arts and its most visible creation--the stage play--an invaluable experience for young adults. The student actor is trained to place his attention on the other actors in the scene, to react to what is happening in the other actors. In a larger sense a Drama Program that stages a variety of challenging plays gives the actors and the school community (the audience) a chance to participate in the “stories of others.” It brings the larger world into the smaller world of the school.
Drama teaches its varied “lessons” by having the students “do it.” Personal and artistic growth is “tested” by having the students continually put their “knowledge” about themselves and their craft to use in daily exercises, scene study performances and staged plays.
- Drama 1: Creative Dramatics (#10724)
- Drama 2: Introduction to Acting (#10744)
- Drama 3: Advanced Acting (#10754)
- Drama 4: Play Production (#10764)
- Movement for Actors (#10794)
Major year course. 3 credits. Forms III-VI.
Drama 1 is a workshop course that employs an approach generally known as Creative Dramatics, the use of drama as a means of developing creativity and other personal resources. A problem is posed or an “inspiration” given which must result in a short play. Students spend some time brainstorming possible solutions. The goal is to discover as many options as possible.
Students then plan the overall structure of the piece and discuss the characters. With this in mind, they improvise the play. During the second semester, students may script some of the plays after the first improvisation, polishing the material by using the criticism of the class.
Major year course. 3 credits. Forms IV-VI. Prerequisite: Drama 1.
This course uses character/scene improvisation and the exercises of Sanford Meisner and Robert Lewis to develop the actor’s basic resources: imagination, listening, concentration, and “truthfulness.” Students are also introduced to some basic techniques of scene analysis, practicing them in several scenes and monologues.
Major year course. 3 credits. Forms V-VI. Prerequisite: Drama 2.
Drama 3 is our advanced acting course in scene study. Students strengthen their ability to analyze a scene from a play; they memorize and rehearse the scene and perform it several times, making adjustments using the criticism of the class. The goal is to strengthen the ability to “live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances of a play.”
During the first semester, students explore acting techniques by working on scenes from modern plays. During the second semester, students concentrate on Shakespeare. They learn how to use the heightened language of the plays and how to find the “hidden direction” that the verse provides. Also during the second semester, students explore play structure and work with techniques for play analysis. At some point during the year, members of the class will perform a showcase of their work for the Pingry community.
Major year course. 3 credits. Form VI. Prerequisite: Drama 3.
Drama 4 is our production course for students who have demonstrated a serious commitment to the dramatic arts and wish to work on the staging of a classic or challenging modern play. There will be one major and one minor production each year staged in the Attic Theater or Macrae Theater. Students in the course will be involved in all aspects of production — stage and lighting design, set building, costumes, props, make-up, etc.
Trimester course.1 credit. Meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during Conference Period. Prerequisite: For actors in the current fall production.
The course consists of a daily actor’s warm-up, which includes centering exercises, body isolations, rhythmic movements, locomotor exercises through space, and relaxation work. The actors will be led in yoga-styled movements that will stretch, strengthen, balance, and improve their neuromuscular coordination. Depending on the production, the class may explore mask work, a particular style of dance/movement, or character movement. Moving as a character requires the actor to first become self-aware about his or her own movement preferences and points of tension. All movement for acting work is based on increasing the awareness of the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of life and making choices so the student actor can walk in another person’s (character’s) shoes.