Courses

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Theatre I (grade 6)
Instructor: Ms. Austin

Students will begin the year by establishing a classroom culture and norms that make theatre possible. Ensemble building and intrapersonal work will intersect with core acting skills: character development, text analysis, and practical knowledge (stage directions, etc). Students will work on audition-appropriate monologues and scene work. Improv and theatre sports will round out the classroom experience. Historical focus will be on ancient Greek theatre and culturally-responsive modern versions

Theatre II (grade 7)
InstructorS: Ms. Patterson/Mr. Travisano

Building on the classroom culture and norms from Theatre I, students will begin the year thinking and writing about what it means to be a theatre artist and what their collective goal is for the year as an ensemble as well as their individual goals. Students will begin by doing an audition and practical theatre refresher and work on how to take and incorporate feedback. Skills around character development will be deepened through introduction to skills taught in greater depth in high school, particularly around the listening work pioneered by Sanford Meisner (which will also be taught through improv). Historical focus will be on medieval European theatre and the classical Theatre traditions of India (Kathkali) and Japan (Noh, Kabuki). Students will learn the gestural and physical approaches of these acting traditions.

Theatre III (grade 8)
Instructor: Ms. helfer

The focus of this course is success in the OSA Theatre high school program. Students will refresh previous skills and dive into new ones meant to match their growth and deepening understanding of their craft. The first acting theorist students are formally introduced to in our program is Uta Hagen (through her seminal text Respect for Acting). Students will read, discuss, write about her theories and put them into practice onstage in scene work. In the second semester, class time is devoted to preparing students to audition for their high school major. All students will do a deep exploration of a playwright from a highly diverse list, prepare an audition monologue from that writer, and a contrasting song. The culminating event is the audition (even if a student chooses not to return to OSA).

 

Production & Performance
Instructor: all middle school faculty

In the first semester, two days per week, students will prepare the middle school production during class time. This is the elective for the first semester and is meant to give our younger students a sense of the practicalities of theatre production. This year's production is also a new work, co-written by Matthew Travisano and three of the Playwriting & Production majors in our high school program. The Little Mermaid[s] comprises four plays, each a riff on the Little Mermaid narrative, and each a different style. Each is directed by a member of the middle school faculty. Students will learn (or deepen their understanding of) table-work and dramaturgy skills, rehearsal etiquette and techniques, and the importance of ensemble. Each production will also have an academic component and explore a topic related to it. Topics covered will include magical realism, acting techniques of Asian theatre (Kathkali, Noh, and Kabuki specifically), and the theatre of social justice. 

 

electives
Instructor: all middle school faculty

In the second semester, students will be offered electives which meet twice per week. This is a way to explore specific topics within theatre practice. Offerings will be inspired by our three high school majors (Acting, Musical Theatre, and Playwriting & Production) so students begin to consider which major(s) they'd like to audition for. Elective offerings will be posted after Winter Break. 


HIGH SCHOOL

core courses by major

Students in our high school program major in either Playwriting & Production, Acting, or Musical Theatre. The courses here are listed in that order. 

PLAYWRITING AND PRODUCTION

Playwriting                                     
INSTRUCTOR: Mr. Travisano

For this year, the theme of this course is the art of adaptation, using a text of a different genre to create a performance text. Students will be introduced to theories of adaptation and, most importantly, how to put them into practice. With assigned texts and texts of their choice, students will work to discover what a play needs to work by using texts not originally created for the theatre. A year-long project will be working on a contemporary, culturally-responsive adaptation of the Indian epic poem The Mahabharata in concert with Ubuntu Theatre Project, with a eye to a co-production in 2018-2019. 

directing
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. goldfield

Students will use William Ball's seminal text A Sense of Direction as the foundation for this course, a more practical exploration of directing for the stage. Because directing students are also playwriting students, in this course they will also create texts so that they have experience directing new work that is in development. They will have the chance to practice this skill more authentically when they stage student written pieces for our annual New Works Festival.

dramaturgy
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. potter

This course is an in-depth exploration of differing views of dramaturgy, its purposes, and ways in which to approach it. Students will read and create critical texts about theatre and will be the lead dramaturgs for all of the productions in our main stage season. Of the jobs in the theatre, dramaturgy is the most fluid. So students will also experience the flexibility that comes with field: from research to teaching to being a literary manager. 


 

ACTING

Acting Theory (Grades 9-10)
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. patterson

Acting Theory (Grades 11-12)
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. potter

This year students will be given thorough exposure to the acting theories of Constantin Stanislavki and Bertolt Brecht, two opposing ideals of what theatre should be and what acting practice should entail. From Stanislavki students will study the classic techniques associated with emotional memory, sense memory, given circumstances, and more. From Brecht students will learn techniques associated with epic theatre and agitprop theatre. This is in support of mainstage productions of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Stanislavki) and The Threepenny Opera (Brecht) and plays that sit in between (Naomi Iizuka's Good Kids and Marcus Gardley's ...And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi). 

text & voice (Grades 9-10/11-12)
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. patterson

Techniques of vocal production and an awareness of physiology underpin every Text & Voice course. Younger students will be introduced to these topics, older students will deepen and complicate their understanding as they get ready to audition for college. Breath support, diction, vowel placement, and other technical concerns will be considered through the use of texts written betwee 1900 and 1950 and that call for the acting techniques being studied in Acting Theory. 

Physical Theatre I & II
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. helfer

These two courses will cover similar topics but at differing levels of complexity. Students will be introduced to the physical characterization techniques of Tadashi Suzuki and Viewpoints system of Anne Bogart. This year, students will work on the physical activation of poetic texts by Gabriela Mistral. Each day students will learn physical warm-ups borrowed from yoga and various athletic contexts.  


 

MUSICAL THEATRE

Musical Theatre Scene study
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. potter

This course will work in tandem with Musical Theatre Voice, exploring musical theatre texts written between 1927 and 1950, with a focus on the works of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, George Gerwshin, and Kurt Weill. While the interiority of Stanislavki was becoming popular in the world of 'straight plays' musicals of the period borrowed from Brechtian ideas (if unknowingly). Students will negotiate the acting techniques needed to activate musicals that were becoming more complex and interior but also needed to be showstopping.

MUSical Theatre Dance I
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. GOLDFIELD

musical Theatre dance II
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. helfer

These two courses are divided by the relative mastery level of the students as they begin the year. The focus in Musical Theatre Dance I is to demystify dance in a dramatic context and to increase confidence and positive body image, recognizing the wide array of possibilities in musical theatre for casting. In Musical Theatre Dance II, students will deepen their technical understanding and be introduced to more advanced combinations. In both courses, students will engage in a major unit on tap dancing, keeping in mind the focus in their acting and voice classes on texts written between 1927-1950. 

Musical theatre voice I
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. GOLDFIELD

Musical Theatre voice II
INSTRUCTOR: Ms. helfer

These two courses are divided by the relative mastery level of the students as they begin the year. The focus in Voice I is strong foundational techniques in breath, placement, and characterization with focus individual coaching and assessment. Like Dance I, this course is meant to give students a positive and supporting environment in which to secure these foundations. Voice II introduces the fundamentals of music theory tailored to the musical theatre actor as well as bel canto technique. In both courses, students will work with an accompanist to develop a repertoire book of songs from the 1927-1950 period for auditions, as well as gain an appreciation for what it is like to be accompanied live.