In Middle School, drama classes include improvisation, playwriting, and many opportunities for performance. Students explore ethical dilemmas, dramatic plots, and methods for conveying complicated ideas. Monologues, dramatic literature, critique, and the technical components of theater are also included in the curriculum. The use of the stage--entrances, exits, sets, and production techniques are all incorporated into a variety of performances. In seventh and eighth grade, students have the opportunity to participate as actors or members of the stage crew for a major production that is performed in our black box theater in December. Ninth graders all take part their own play, which is prepared through the fall and winter and performed in March.
Improvisation is one of the unifying themes of sixth grade drama. Students learn the basic rules of improvisation and discussion techniques. Class activities include creating characters using voice and body movements, problem solving, creating sets, using appropriate props and using costumes. Students begin writing plays that incorporate dialogue, stage directions, plot, conflict, characters and editing. They learn and implement rehearsal techniques and analyze their own work, as well as the performances of their classmates. The collaborative process involves respecting various perspectives and points of view.
Students participate in performance projects that visually represent principles and theories about acting: improvisations to learn acting technique; flexibility, decision-making and problem-solving skills; theater games to learn concentration, thinking quickly and adapting to the needs of the moment. Students are also exposed to playwriting, dramatic literature and oral and written critical assessments. In seventh and eighth grades, students have the opportunity to participate as actors or members of the stage crew for a major production that is performed in our black box theater in December.
Much of the eighth grade year involves theater games that isolate and highlight specific skills. Students focus on the “believability” of a character or a scene, the reasoning and motivation for actions, the significance of entrances and exits, and the subtle interactions of various elements on stage. Students examine backstories, ethical dilemmas, and character development through the course of dramatic productions. The major eighth grade project is a scene study unit including literary analysis, blocking (charting movement), memorization, designing a set and costumes, performance and criticism. In seventh and eighth grades, students have the opportunity to participate as actors or members of the stage crew for a major production that is performed in our black box theater in December.
Ninth grade is the culmination of the drama program at Foote. Students spend this year studying and preparing a play for production. Usually, the play involves historic and cultural themes, and some class time is devoted to research and literary analysis of the time period, linguistic style and important contextual elements. Throughout the year, ninth grade drama classes incorporate the cumulative and sequential skills that students have learned during the course of their entire drama experience at Foote School. In-class lessons involve integrating all components of the production: organizing scenery, props and costumes (physical layout and changes during the performance); learning stage manager skills and "calling" the show; technical aspects of lighting, set construction, sound selection and making the score; and publicity.
The sixth grade Festival of the World caps a yearlong study of global cultures, religions and geography. Each student studies a different country, creating a range of informational and artistic projects, including a model of a famous landmark.