Fine Arts: Drama

The Bement drama program seeks to teach students how to work together with mutual respect and creative purpose, and to build confidence and poise in public situations. The program is designed to stimulate cooperation, imagination, and expressive skills. From kindergarten through ninth grade, students are exposed to a number of performance opportunities as they experience the joys of theatrical collaboration.

The focus in sixth grade drama is on developing sensory and imaginative work, and using voice and movement to develop character. Students work on increasing their comfort level and technique with improvisation and performance skills. Through a series of theatre games and movement and vocal exercises, students explore how to use their voice and body in a theatrical manner. Their work culminates in a student-created adaptation of a fairy tale which is performed for the lower school.

The focus in seventh grade drama is on Shakespearean text and physical and vocal expansion. Students explore how to use their voice and movement to specifically communicate a character’s intention. Class warm-ups focus on team-work, concentration, and freeing creative impulses. Some of our class exercises explore heightening characters’ status and physicality. Our work culminates in a sharing of scenes from a Shakespearean play. Past plays have included "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", "Romeo and Juliet", "As You Like It", and "Twelfth Night".

During the seventh grade, each student also has one term of drama history. We begin with a brief introduction to the origins of western drama and focus on Greek tragedy. We study one classical play over the course of the term in order to look at the themes and technical aspects of theater during this period. Students are challenged to think about the play from the perspective of an actor, director, audience member, and designer.

The focus in eigth grade drama is on more fully embodied scene work, using a contemporary play to explore scenic action and relationship. Class exercises continue to develop concentration and improvisation skills, and the group works on building a cohesive ensemble built on trust and dedication. Students read the complete play to gain a sense of their character, and work on writing character biographies to further immerse themselves in the world of the play. The work culminates in selected scenes from the chosen play.

Ninth grade drama is a capstone year at Bement. The disciplines of drama, art, and English all come together as ninth graders use the theme of identity as a catalyst to investigate themselves and their world. They draw from theatrical and non-theatrical sources to kick start their ideas about writing and performing relevant creative work that captures their unique voice. They use free writing and improvisational activities to develop original scenes and monologues which are woven into a culminating ensemble performance for the school. In the spring term, this ensemble work continues. The entire ninth grade class comes together to work on the spring musical, synthesizing acting, dance, and vocal techniques. This is a collaborative effort on the part of the entire fine arts faculty and the ninth grade advisors. Students are introduced to all the elements of putting on a full production, including props, stage management, and costume and set design. Professionalism and collaboration are stressed throughout the process as students learn how to work together as a team to create an unforgettable show.

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