The vision of the OES Performing Arts program is for students to experience the aesthetic, creative, and collaborative joy made possible in the performing arts. We strive to have students learn and develop as performers, in a process that fosters safe risks, thoughtful reflection, profound research, and authentic reaction. We believe the collaborative performance process teaches students how to see connections in the world around them, and enables them to challenge audiences with difficult topics.
Central to the Beginning School Performing Arts goals is inquiry. Classroom teachers work closely with students to find ways to ask questions about the world. Through these conversations, students explore ideas with self-created stories and imaginative play. These stories are then captured and performed by the class for many different members of the community.
Formal acting instruction begins in the sixth grade. Acting classes focus on storytelling skills, character, plot, voice, and improvisation. The quarter culminates with students performing stories for Lower School audiences.
In seventh grade, students focus on stronger plot development and using improvisation to create characters and scenarios. Students begin to understand that acting is not just about talking but also communicating with the body, the eyes, and movement. At this time we also introduce the concept of Actor as Collaborator, and the importance of group work.
In the eighth grade, students learn more advanced vocal techniques and character development as they work from written scripts. Teacher David Gomes, who worked at Center Stage for seven seasons and was one of four founding members of Artist Repertory Theatre, teaches tricks he learned during roughly 20 years as an actor. At the end of the year, the eighth grade acting students perform a culminating project that is shared with family, friends, and members of the community.
Theater instruction in the Upper School includes the following courses: Actor’s Studio, Stage and Screen, and a Stagecraft activity period. The skills students learn are applied in three main stage productions in the Great Hall, as well as scene readings throughout their other Upper School classes.
Main Stage performances include musicals, dramas, and one-act plays written and directed by students in the playwriting class. OES is committed to staging plays that align with our school mission and thus benefit the intellectual, cultural, spiritual, emotional, and artistic growth of the students. We strive to choose plays that are relevant to the community and that complement one another in style, content, and technical demand over the course of the year.
Other Theater Links
Past Upper School Productions
- Charley's Aunt
- Much Ado About Nothing
- The Curious Savage
- Twelfth Night
- Peter Pan
- The Laramie Project
- The Music Man
- Charlotte's Web
- Our Town
- The Triangle Factory Fire Project
- The Madwoman of Chaillot