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Drama

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 Courses

Drama 1: Creative Dramatics (#10724)

Major year course. 3 credits. Forms III-VI. No prerequisite required.

Drama I 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” is given to the students, which must ultimately result in them developing a short play. Students spend some time brainstorming possible solutions, with the goal of discovering as many options as possible for their play. Students then plan the overall structure of the piece and discuss the characters. With this in mind, students improvise the play, solidify choices through the rehearsal process, and eventually present their final product to the class. Students will often have the opportunity to perform for a larger audience during Lunch-Time Theatre.

Drama 2: Introduction to Acting (#10744)

Major year course. 3 credits. Forms IV-VI. Prerequisite: Drama 1.

Drama II uses character/scene improvisation, as well as the exercises and techniques of Sanford Meisner to develop the actor’s basic resources: imagination, listening, concentration, and “truthfulness.” During the first semester, students will focus on scripted scenes and monologues that reinforce their Meisner work. During the second semester, students will write, produce, and perform 20 “Neo-Futurist” plays in 40 minutes. This Neo-Futurist project will culminate with an evening performance for parents, family, and friends.

Drama 3: Advanced Acting (#10754)

Major year course. 3 credits. Forms V-VI. Prerequisite: Drama 2.

Drama III is an advanced acting course in scene study. During the first semester, students explore acting techniques by studying modern plays (such as Backstory), while working to strengthen their ability to analyze, memorize, and rehearse complex and modern scenes. During the first semester, the students will also work to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances of the play.

During the second semester, students will take their drama understanding to the next level by creating an original play with their classmates. Students will research a topic, create a script, and memorize and rehearse the play, making adjustments using the criticism of the class. Finally, the original play will be taken “on the road” to local elementary or middle schools in the surrounding area for performances.

Uta Hagen’s classic textbook, Respect for Acting, is the class’ primary resource for both semesters.

Drama 4: Play Production (#10764)

Major year course. 3 credits. Form VI. Prerequisite: Drama 3.

Drama 4 is a course for students who have demonstrated a serious commitment to the dramatic arts and who wish to work on the staging of a full-length play. This fully-mounted production gives students a chance to explore a character from beginning (development) to end (performance), develop a logical storyline through scene work, watch it unfold, and give meaning to the process. It is a highly charged class that demands energy, intellectual effort, and culmination of years of effort and skills.

Technical Theatre (#)

Semester course. Form IV - VI. No prerequisite.

Technical Theatre will provide a look into the backstage workings of theatre by exploring lights, sound, and set design. Technical Theatre will be split into two design components: practical training and script analysis. Students can expect to leave the class with a firm grasp of analyzing a script for author intention, setting, and tone, as well as, a practical understanding of how to design and implement technical theatre elements.

Movement for Actors (#10794)

Trimester course.1 credit. Meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during Conference Period. Prerequisite: For actors in the current fall play or upcoming winter musical.

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.