The drama program at Paideia began six years ago. The scope and opportunities for students in acting, writing, directing and criticism expands each year. Acting provides a means of expression, using intuition, imagination and self-awareness. Criticism and analysis of plays and films teach students an intellectual approach to an otherwise emotional experience. In both class and on stage, craft is paramount. Students can choose to pursue professional careers in drama or simply use the experiences in the drama program to increase critical thinking, awareness of self and others, and comfort with public speaking.
The Acting Workshop is offered each fall and spring semester as an elective. During Short Term, courses include Playwrighting, Film Criticism and Improvisation. Two main stage plays are performed each year, one comedy and one drama.
The curriculum for the Acting Workshop is varied so students can participate for four full years. Acting, both for the stage and camera; scene analysis; playwrighting and Improv are included. We analyze and critique plays, trying to discover each character's motivation with every line. A form of Method Acting is taught, where students draw on their personal experiences to find motivation for their characters. It is challenging for a teenager to know how to play a divorced Wife with two children, but we look within to find an experience which resonates. Typical of the plays we study are "Proof," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "A Doll's House," "Oleanna" and "Waiting for Godot."
Writing is also included in the curriculum. Students write and direct their own plays. We use Improv as a source for scene writing. And students also write, direct and edit short films. Each is submitted to the class for critique. In alternate years, Film Production is offered. Prior to writing a screenplay, the class watches a variety of films to discuss styles of cinematography, directing and editing. This is truly a hands-on experience of Independent Film making.
Twice a year, we produce a well-known play. Auditions are held and students act, build the set, find costumes and props and learn lighting. One student is chosen as Assistant Director, who helps direct scenes, run rehearsals and maintains contact with the cast and crew. Recent productions have been "Boy Gets Girl," "You Can't Take It With You." "The Importance of Being Earnest," "Buried Child," "The Dining Room" and "Six Characters in Search of an Author."
Each year at the Awards ceremony, an "Oscar" is given to the outstanding senior at the Awards ceremony. We participate in One-Act Competitions sponsored by the City of Atlanta and the Georgia State High School Association. And on alternate years, we take a New York Theatre Tour in the Spring.
The new construction on the corner of South Ponce de Leon and Oakdale Road will include a Black Box Theatre. This will enable the Drama Department to present more plays, giving more students experience on stage and education in the Dramatic Arts. Future goals are to provide a similar program in the Junior High School and to introduce 5th and 6th graders to acting. Drama would be an addition or alternative to music and voice as an expressive art form in the Upper Elementary.
Each year, the Drama Program becomes broader in its offerings to students. The Black Box Theatre will provide both a statement and form for its continued growth. This is an exciting, new development for Paideia and will provide experiences for more and more students in the years to come.