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Drama

The focus of all three years of Drama is the development of the individual. Using the categories set forth by Brian Way in his seminal work Development through Drama, each year the Drama classes will provide opportunities for growth in concentration, sensory awareness, imagination, physical self, speech, emotion, and intellect. The central concerns are first to help each individual discover his or her own resources and then to move on to explore the individual’s environment, which demands a conscious relationship with others who inhabit it. Since the primary concerns of drama match the natural development of a student in the passage from childhood into adolescence, this program is an essential Middle School art experience.

Middle School Drama Courses

Drama 6: Character & Movement

Trimester Course. Grade 6. No prerequisite.

This course gives students an introduction to theater, characters, and storytelling.They will use movement to create characters, situations, and emotional responses. Starting with physical awareness, they play with rhythm, shapes, gestures as a way to express ideas. Then they will explore how to identify and show emotions with facial and body language. There will be units on theater basics, clowning, dance, and conflict. The course places a premium on working with others using basic etiquette skills like listening, sharing space, and resolving conflicts to solve problems. Students begin by working as a large ensemble and then co-create their final piece in small groups or pairs which will later be shared with an audience of teachers and peers.

Mindful awareness practices such as listening, recognizing tension and relaxation, moving mindfully, being still, concentrating focus, following the breath, and walking with awareness, as well as creating positive emotional connection to the present moment, and cultivating feelings of compassion and gratitude will be taught. These practices draw attention and awareness to a student’s current experience just as it is, without trying to change, improve, or fix anything. By noticing what is going on moment-to-moment, students develop a bigger perspective from which to view their own feelings and thoughts. From there, they learn to develop empathy and a capacity to respond to others which is the job of the actor--to imagine what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Drama 7: Devised Theater

Trimester Course. Form I. No prerequisite.

In Devised Theater, a required trimester of basic introduction to drama, students will experience what it is like to be an active part of a creative ensemble that devises its own piece of drama. The class will be based on presentations of the origins and purpose of drama, as well as written work that aims to help students identify the components of drama (who, where, why, and conflict). Basic staging skills will be taught, along with elements of dance, scripting, and improvisation. During class, we will use an American musical icon to inspire us and give us a musical context through which to explore daily conflicts and concerns. Throughout the entire process, the goal is not only to develop storytelling and performance skills, but also to teach students how to work cooperatively, create a supportive environment, and take risks together. At the end of the course, students will showcase their piece in front of a panel of drama/art teachers and an audience of their peers.

 

 

 

Drama 8: The Word in Action (Elective)

Trimester Course. Form II. No prerequisite.

Humans are social beings; we need the ability to tell each other what is happening in our life and in our world. Thus, Drama 8 focuses on telling a story, the mechanics of speaking, and the act of releasing the voice. Through improvisational theatre games, vocal strengthening, and working with stories and scripts, we will hone the student’s ability to tell and dramatize stories. The student will also work on cold reading scripts, improvisation, creating original monologues, and performing in scenes. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the student’s communication and empathy skills, which will be useful in theatre, school activities, and everyday life.

Musical Theater 8 (Elective)

Trimester Course. Form II. No prerequisite.

This class is open to Form II students and asks the basic question of, “What is Musical Theater?” Students will study various components of musical theater (script analysis, singing, acting, dancing, staging, etc.) as well as the actor's role in telling a story. Within the scope of the course, students will hone skills in critical thinking, analysis, storytelling, and the creative and technical aspects of musical theater (dancing, singing, acting, staging, and design). The main project for the class is an original 30-minute musical. Preparation for this project includes studying the origins and development of musical theatre, studying the basic elements of musical theatre, and learning how to tell a story through the art of musical theater.

 

Acting Out: Improvisation (Form I Friday Course)

No scripts, no memorizing, just fun! Designed to be creative and liberating, this class will teach the basic rules of improvisation and how to keep a scene going. Students will experience many theater games and exercises that stimulate the imagination.

A Play in the Attic! (Activity Block Option)

At Play in the Attic! is a fall theatre course that makes use of Pingry's acting studio space, the Attic Theatre. Students will choose a piece of theater, audition for parts, and collaborate in staging the production. They will select costumes, props, as well as devise a set, all from the Attic Theater’s own collections. The final show will be performed under lights, at the end of the trimester, for an audience. Rehearsals will incorporate acting warm-ups, creative blocking and staging exercises, and basic character work that will help young actors gain movement skills, self-confidence, as well as have fun putting on a play.

Theater Tech (Activity Block Option)

Every year in the spring trimester the Middle School puts on a musical and students are responsible for all aspects of the production, including tech. This is an opportunity to learn all about and be responsible for the lighting, set design and construction, sound, etc. All students are welcome to participate and be part of this exciting behind-the-scenes team.

Middle School Musical (Activity Block Option)

Every year the Middle School puts on a musical production. All students are welcome to participate; auditions are held for specific parts.

Boy saying lines to other student.