Head of School Blog

Guest Blogger: Lessons from the Stage

Kathleen Ferman
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity
in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
-New Jersey’s own Meryl Streep

Magic will once again be made at All Saints this week when our talented students take to the stage and breathe life into the characters from E.B. White’s classic children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web. You won’t want to miss this performance on Thursday, April 11, at 9:00am or 6:30pm in the church. A culminating event to this year’s Reading Olympics, this All Saints production has been a true school-wide celebration of theatre and literature. Drama, Art, Language Arts, and Administrative departments have come together to build and coordinate this timeless tale of an unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider. As with so many of our theatre-based events, All Saints families have played important roles in production elements such as set design/construction, and costumes. As a truly special treat this year, All Saints is blessed with the talents of Broadway sound designer, John Shivers (father of Ruby in Second Grade).

Proving themselves on the stage with their work in the fall musical, The Wizard of Oz, lead roles in this year’s Spring Drama were opened up to students in First and Second Grades for the first time ever; up until this year, the Spring Drama was cast exclusively with students from Grades 3 and up. Our younger students have certainly lived up to their responsibility! On the first day of rehearsal, First Grade student Mara Reba walked into rehearsal and announced, “I’ve got my script and a pencil and I’m ready to rehearse being a Lamb!” True to her word, Mara has read her lines with a vigor that would put Dame Maggie Smith to shame. All the performers have been troopers of the first order and we couldn’t be more proud of them!

One of the more challenging aspects ofCharlotte’s Web has been rehearsing during school hours. Because we did not want to tax our performers’ after school time, we have primarily rehearsed during lunch and Middle School Club time. These limited timeframes have created a sense of “getting down to business” for each rehearsal. We were fortunate to have the help of local actor and Phoenix Theatre Ensemble Co-Artistic Director, Joe Menino, and our wonderful Seventh Grade Stage Manager, Maria Jose.

School plays are so important and touch on so many aspects of learning,
among them being:

Social Maturity:
• Students learn about talking and listening to each other.
• Students share and negotiate space.
• Students are respectful and encouraging of each other.
• Students gain confidence to express their own thoughts and emotions.
Language Development:
• Students speak their lines with appropriate feeling.
• Language fluency with lines is developed.
• Learning and speaking unfamiliar or dated language in a natural manner.
• Students not only memorize lines, but sequence order of scenes and arch of the story.
• Students must learn how to project their voices and speak clearly and understandably for audience to appreciate the story.
Mathematical Understanding:
• Students have to think in terms of geometric space for blocking.
• Students must be aware of the angle at which they are standing to be seen and heard.
• Student set and property designers must think in terms of size of props and perspective of set.
Historical Content:
• Students must gain an understanding of the era in which the play is set. What were the values of the people in the story of the play? How does environment affect acting choices and production elements?
Artistic and Imaginative Awareness:
• Students must bring to life characters that may be very different from who they are as people.
• Students must imagine another time and place in order to bring characters to life.
• Student must develop an empathy and understanding for their characters.

Acting is a wonderful challenge. Students gain so much from participating in the performing arts. While most students will not opt for a life in the theatre, these special moments of “trying on” the lives of others are transformative and magically transport everyone involved to another world.

-Kathleen Ferman, Academic Enrichment and Drama Teacher

Questions? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com