Putting Theater and Literature in the Spotlight:
Students in the Theater and Speech Arts program work with drama, poetry, and prose, bringing them to the stage for audiences small and large. In exploring the rich experience of the actor and interpreter, we explore literal meaning, dive into theme, subtext and connotation. We also guide students to explore what the ways in which language, sound patterns, rhythms, and structure intertwine in great works of theater and literature to derive meaning, and the ways in which a speaker can use layers of sound and other details to create their own artistic moment. Students delve into the lives of characters, discovering motivation and intention, and losing themselves in the acting process.
The practical benefits from this training, from “nailing” an English exam to excelling in poetry and reading aloud, are evident in the child’s early studies. Parents see improved variety in vocabulary and comprehension. Immersing themselves in theatre and literature, from classic to contemporary works, and from poetry to prose; gives Theater and Speech students a broad sensibility and insight into the human experience. As students seek to understand and convey the meaning of pieces ranging from Winnie The Pooh to Ode to the West Wind, and bring characters to life, they discover layers of thought, emotion and meaning that profoundly affect who they are and how they view the world. Within every piece of theater and literature, we find ideas that resonate deep within us that help us find a bit of ourselves.
Public Speaking and Storytelling:
Public speaking and storytelling are major components of the Theater and Speech Arts program that benefit students in training them to think, create and shape their own ideas. With the skills they are learning from this program, they will share their ideas with an audience in a manner that is in the moment, alive and responsive. These skills are very powerful. Public speaking training is the element of the program that is most closely tied to success in academic and work situations. Students learn to craft and deliver a message that will influence and persuade an audience, mastering the main goal that parents seek, which include speaking effectively and achieving success.
Storytelling is a similar presentation style that may be even more powerful than public speaking. Storytelling accesses personal stories and our own repertoire of experience. The great benefit in storytelling for students is their ability to shape a narrative, embellishing it with unique details, and to connect it with their audience. Storytelling is our most authentic means of communication, and it helps students find their own voice and personal speaking style.
Finding your voice- A Real Voice
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that parents see the value in good communication skills, since many employers today identify communication skills as a top priority in job posting and hiring criteria. Educators too are beginning to note a shift in focus from the testing of skills such as math and language as markers of achievement, to a new emphasis on 21st century skills of collaboration and communication. The Theater and Speech Arts program is unique in its emphasis on training the voice and body as a unified instrument. The benefit is that the Theater and Speech Arts students have a voice that commands and takes them from the stage to the classroom with ease and style. Not only do students learn to speak with clarity and use its voice to its maximum, healthy potential, by mastering tools such as pitch, inflection, power, tone and pace. To be present in communication depends on focused, physical energy with a voice that is flexible, commanding, pleasant and powerful. Theater and Speech Arts students find their voice and learn to speak with presence.