The Upper School theater co-curricular program has three major components:
1) Main-stage productions offer students a chance to work with more intensive, longer productions. There is a full-length musical or play in October and an extended one-act in February for the Cultural Convention.
2) One-Act productions provide students opportunities to write, act, direct, and tech shorter shows in a more intimate venue:
- April (Fine Arts Festival)—Up to 10 extended One-Acts, directed and performed by experienced students
- An extended One-Act in February for the Cultural Convention
- Guest Artist Experience— One or two times a year, a professional actor/director will work with the students and at times, this will include a performance showcase of the work that is experienced with this particular guest artist.
3) Other supporting activities provide students with additional dramatic experiences:
- Theatersports is sponsored annually by the Thespian Society in September, providing chances for student teams to compete in several rounds of improvisational theatre.
- The Thespian Society is an international organization that recognizes student theatrical work and promotes theater within the school community.
- The Theater Guild is for all students wanting to be involved in the TAS theater community. This is a club that requires no commitment but still is connected to the Thespian Society.
The 2019-2020 lower school musical production was The Rainbow Fish Musical. Beginning in October with auditions and finishing in May, the dedicated cast of 44 Grade 5 students and 11 Grade 5 crew members persevered to bring this story to the stage despite facing numerous difficulties due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of these hardships included restarting rehearsals after long absences due to distance learning, an extended rehearsal period, and multiple changed performance dates. They overcame these challenges to perform an energetic story while wearing masks and without the support of a live audience. Due to their resilience and remarkable attitude, these 55 students have the skills necessary to thrive in future drama productions in both the Middle and Upper Schools.
Based on the classic children’s short story "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister, this show teaches the importance of friendship, sharing, and kindness to be truly happy, a message closely aligned with the TAS values.
Box by Lindsay Price was performed by 30 middle schoolers as part of the Play Performance Club. The Play Performance club was created three years ago and like the MS Musical, it operates a strict no cut policy. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays and the production is open to any 6, 7 and 8th grade student. This year’s play was once again an ensemble piece of theatre, whereby all actors remain on stage for the duration of the performance and work collaboratively to create a powerful and intimate piece of theatre. Box explored the preconceived expectations in areas such as gender, race, peer pressure and parental pressures. Students performed to an audience in the Harmony Theatre.
10 students attended an ISTA (International School’s Theatre Association) festival at the beautiful Traidos Three Generation Community Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Students were joined by eight other international schools and together they explored the festival title, ‘In Place of A Story’; exploring different buildings and environments and how we can use theatre to release their stories.
The middle school musical production team were thrilled to be able to go ahead with this year’s musical, The Little Mermaid JR. Based on the 1989 Disney animated feature film, and the Broadway production, The Little Mermaid JR ventures "under the sea" with Ariel and her aquatic friends. An enchanting look at the sacrifices we all make for love and acceptance. Due to COVID-19 we were unable to have a student pit orchestra, but as an alternative we were joined by a small collection of alumni and faculty musicians. Approximately 90 students were involved in many other ways including acting on stage, lighting, construction, technical, running, make-up and sound crews. The cast performed this year’s musical in masks and straight to video recording.
Last fall, the TAS US Theater program celebrated 70 years of powerful education by showcasing TAS student talent with the Tony Award winning play, The Miracle Worker by William Gibson. The play was staged in the round (the audience is 360 degrees around the stage). Over 40 actors and 25 crew members took on the added challenge of creating two distinct casts with only a 6-week rehearsal process with each cast performing 3 shows each.
Improvisational theater took center stage in the annual Thespians Honors Society sponsored Theater Sports Competition in early December. Over 40 students and six teams battled each other for supremacy in storytelling and wit to earn top honors in the wild showcase of comedy.
In early December, we were grateful to host the incredibly talented Mark Hill. He is a movement specialist who worked with the students on storytelling through the use of their bodies. The students thoroughly enjoyed creating and exploring this truly artful form of theater.
In February, the TAS IASAS drama team took on the task of adapting the famous tale of Alice in a Wonderland in a powerful physical theater piece entitled "ALICE". The performers and technicians won praise for their combined ensemble work, puppetry, and lighting design.
Overcoming the challenges or the current pandemic, the Honors I, II, III, produced the play, Almost Maine by John Cariani, Over 30 acting students came together and showcased their talent for an in-house audience in the Black Box Theater for the Fine Arts Festival. Even with a mask, the actors revealed their resilience and courage to create characterization and creative staging.