Performing arts is an integral part of the Lower School experience, beginning in kindergarten with the rehearsal and performance of a show illustrating American symbols. As students progress through Lower School, they engage in signature programs like the second grade African drumming and dance. Each boy receives instruction in music, dance, and performance art as part of The Haverford School curriculum, preparing him for the burgeoning Middle and Upper School theater programs.
The Middle School theater program is designed to equip our boys with skills that translate to all subject areas. Through the study of Theater Arts, our boys experience kinesthetic, project-based learning in public speaking, technical theater, playwriting, script analysis, acting, design, and production. In addition to these skills, theater fosters empathy, imagination, and understanding of the basic human condition. Each grade-level has its own project developed to simultaneously challenge and nurture the creativity, confidence, and compassion in our boys.
Performance opportunities are abundant in class as well as after school. Our Middle School boys are invited to audition and/or join stage crew for our annual winter musical. The boys have a chance to put together a fully realized production with a diverse production staff and young ladies from area schools. Our shows are carefully picked with the boys’ fun-loving spirits and high energy in mind. Past titles include "Peter Pan," "Aladdin Jr.," "Seussical," "Honk!," "Grease- School Edition," and "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
In the Upper School theater program, we provide our boys with training and hands-on experience in every aspect of theater within three courses. In Theater I, boys begin to learn about voice and movement through beginning acting technique and stage combat. They are introduced to stage lighting, sound, and set construction as they work together on projects that support Upper School productions. In Theater II, as their acting training deepens, they learn and practice directing. They continue stage combat as they begin to work with swords. Technical theater units transition into the design of sets, lights, and sound. As designers, they learn how their choices can enhance the story that the audience experiences. Finally, in Theater III, the boys take their years of experience, form a theater company and produce a play to perform for the Haverford community.
You can read the course descriptions for Upper School theater below, where the asterisk denotes our most rigorous classes.
Theater I provides students with opportunities to increase self-awareness, develop critical thinking skills, and explore their talents on page and stage. The course begins with an overview of basic and improvisational skills. Students put these skills into practice by reading, discussing, and performing original monologues, scenes, and works of classical and contemporary drama. In addition, students learn to incorporate their skills in literary analysis by translating their critical understanding into choices they make as an actor. Participation as audience members at Upper School productions provides excellent opportunities to connect class work to live theatrical plays performed by their peers. Students also learn the basics of design and technical theater to enhance their understanding of the collaboration that is necessary to bring theatrical works to life, and practice dialects to understand how culture manifests itself through speech. The course culminates in the writing and performance of an original short play that incorporates students’ knowledge of acting, design, and directing.
Using scripts from 20th and 21st century plays, students in Theater II read, discuss, and act in works by modern playwrights who are bright examples of the power of drama. Scene study focuses on students taking greater risks in their acting work and performance exercises will also include roles that will stretch the student actor. Individual expression and creativity is also encouraged through dramaturgical projects within the context of each play being studied. Participation in or attendance at all Upper School productions, as well as off-campus travel to view professional productions, enables students to become discriminating consumers of live theater. The art of directing is an integral unit in Theater II. Each student will direct a scene from one of the plays read in class where concentrated study of the world of the play, character motivation, implementation of blocking, production history, and most importantly, communicating the action of the scene to their peers. Finally, students work on a final project of their choosing, which may include playwriting, scene study intensives, three-minute monologues, or directing work.
Theater III* is an advanced level Independent Study in theater that incorporates many of the lessons and techniques acquired in Theater I and II. Students of the Independent Study form a production company with the goal of presenting a play for The Haverford School community. Under instructor supervision and guidance, participants choose a name for the company, select a play, vote on a student director, and cast the show. Each member of the course also helps build the set, procure costumes and props, and is responsible for the marketing and publicity to promote the show. Professionals from the theater community are invited to attend performances to give the students valuable feedback.
*This is an advanced level course.