Every performing artist treasures that indescribable moment. When the audience connects. When they get lost in the magic on stage.
The Chadwick Theater Department is dedicated to pursuing excellence in all areas of academic and production work through understanding and exhibiting Chadwick’s core competencies. With the belief that the performing arts are key to educating and inspiring beyond the classroom, Chadwick students are given remarkable opportunities to create together. Our acclaimed theater arts program features winter and spring musicals where students perform under expert direction with professional-quality costumes and set designs in a state-of-the-art facility.
By exposing students to content and material that’s socially, historically and culturally diverse, theater presents a rare opportunity to cultivate a deep sense of empathy and tolerance. With collaboration as the heartbeat of classes and rehearsals, students enhance their performance skills, build confidence and become more effective and articulate communicators. They are dared to take risks with authenticity, and to face work, challenges and people with courage and honesty.
At its core, the theater program’s courses and productions emphasize practical and experiential learning, giving students opportunities to reveal, question and build character. Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively as they discover their artistic voice. They also learn to take ownership of their work as a vital contributing factor to both their individual development and the overall success of the production.
Through its array of activities, the theater program:
- provides opportunities for students, teachers and others to create and implement an exceptional program of artistic events
- creates a program of productions, visits and visiting artists accessible to the school community and beyond
- acts as a window to the talents of our students and faculty, with opportunities to showcase students' creative work:
- at Chadwick
- throughout the wider community
- at state, national and international festivals
- addresses the needs, talents and abilities of the student and school community through a varied, diverse and challenging program that honors a commitment to quality at every turn
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Starting in kindergarten, students work on their presentation and theater skills through in-classroom drama lessons. Village drama projects include Walk Through the American Revolution and Walk through California, a performance of vignettes showing the history of the country and California. The Village drama teacher also supports K-6 students with the production of talent shows multiple times a year.
Middle School Drama gives students the opportunity to examine the world of the performing artist with a focus on concentration, theater games, neutral dialogue, stage jargon, improvisations, scene structure and performance dynamics. Students perform during every class with assessment based solely on participation. As they advance, young thespians engage in more sophisticated material. They study characters, memorize dialogue and analyze scenes, with eighth grade coursework concluding in a short performance.
Upper School students explore the notion of theater and “learn by doing” in courses that challenge the way they think, address problems and perceive others. Theater ideas and techniques are used to explore serious issues through fictional circumstance. Students examine different plays, engage in mini-projects and get opportunities to perform in front of an invited audience. They also compare acting for film and TV versus the stage.
As they advance, students devise, structure and perform new works for a range of audiences that include young children, peers and adults. Content ranges from comedic to dramatic, with students learning to adapt style and staging for each audience.
11th and 12th grade students seeking third year theater classes at Chadwick audition and interview to be considered for more in-depth coursework. At this level, students challenge their perceptions of theater through reading, writing, research and a willingness to work both independently and collaboratively.
They also explore acting, directing and playwriting through the study of existing plays, scenes, playwrights, directors and practitioners. This coursework is appropriate for students considering a Major or Minor in Theater at College or for those auditioning for Theater Conservatory Training. Students audition for roles in the Fall Play and Winter Musical.
Improvisational theater teaches spontaneity, acceptance, and sharing control while emphasizing a willingness to listen, take care of others, and take risks. Classes consist of activities, games, and scene work focused around a particular improv concept.
Students are constantly active during class, creating environments, characters and stories on the spot. After taking the course for one trimester, students can also choose to join the Chadwick Improvisors (ChImps), performing improv shows about once a month both on and off campus.
Discover the creative avenues for self-expression Chadwick students find in our other Performing Arts programs.