The Theatre and Drama department strives to introduce students to many kinds of theatre art including plays, musicals, cabaret, performance art, opera, and improvisation. It is our goal to help build students’ theatrical/performance vocabulary and to expose them to many genres of performance.
Drama at Cedar Hill Prep School by Kyle Walton Imagine a princess with an alligator for a best friend, a group of tourists who get sucked into a magic closet and are transported back to the Salem Witch trials, and a story about a government engineered coverup of spontaneous tree combustion! What do these stories have in common? They are all short plays written by students in my CHP Drama Class.
When I was in acting school, we were always trying to regain the unfettered creativity of a child. Children don’t have the same degree of self-consciousness as adults do. My goal as a teacher is to unleash the creativity within my students and guide them to structure it in an effective way.
Drama Class is an experiential experience. My goal is to inspire the students. After setting the stage by providing them with a prompt, they learn by immersing themselves in collaborative projects. This can be a line of dialogue given to them by their peers, a character they are interested in, a poem, or the assignment of making a statement about a social issue. This class structure is very much borrowed from my own education at Fordham University, one of the country’s top drama schools. There the focus was essentially on collaboration and learning through practice. It was this philosophy that has shaped the Drama program at CHP. Drama is one of those subjects that I feel is most effectively conveyed in practice rather than theory.
In the upper Middle School classes, students study the history of all forms of dramatic art including theatre, film, and radio. Through this, they learn to find meaning within various forms of media, thereby expanding the practice of integrating the arts into their daily lives and broadening their exposure to different kinds of art.
Many important skills are learned through the study and practice of drama. Students learn how to effectively structure and communicate a story to the audience, including the timing associated with humor. They learn how to effectively work as a group by communicating, delegating, and being respectful of others’ points of view; to be empathetic and see the world from a another’s perspective by literally stepping into their shoes for a brief moment. Through the process of providing feedback, students realize the important role they have in helping to build up the confidence of their peers.
By empowering students to tell their own stories, we create free thinking beings and future leaders who are unafraid to develop their own voice and make that voice heard. It is my goal as an educator to create and facilitate a safe environment where students can hone their creative impulses and be fearless in their expression.
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