"I think that’s one of the things I love the most about theatre: not only are you going to make mistakes, but you have to figure out how to deal with them in that moment. I don’t think we realize how important failure is. I don’t know that we understand how the instances of failure are often more important than instances of success, that because of them we learn and grow infinitely more."
-Lily Cunicelli, Class of 2017
Theater is a living art form. Every play is different and is a reflection of the people who help make it. The artists and the audience conspire to create a unique experience, one that is always changing. Seeing a play can help us understand the world in which we live. Reading a play can change the way we see our society. Performing in a play can alter our perceptions of ourselves. Westtown celebrates the transformative act of collaboration in the making of a play.
At Westtown, students are involved in every aspect of theater, creating plays that ask big, essential questions. Because we believe that we learn best by doing, we challenge our students to push themselves, to take risks, and to allow themselves the opportunity to succeed brilliantly or fail boldly. The classroom, rehearsal hall, scene shop, and light booth all serve as hands-on laboratories for real-world challenges that help prepare students for their futures.
Westtown theater arts classes and co-curricular opportunities engage students as practitioners, scholars, and audience members, resulting in students who are uniquely prepared to take on the problems of the 21st century in pro-active, empathetic, and collaborative ways. In addition to developing and teaching the basics of theater technique and scholarship, Westtown’s programs aim to foster the kind of creative ownership that can only come from treating each participant as a young artist with an important and unique artistic voice.
Our program has three branches: the curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular. Students are encouraged to participate in any or all aspects of theater.
Curricular: We offer a variety of academic day courses that fulfill the arts requirement. The program begins with Elements of Theater, which exposes students to the breadth of theater disciplines (like acting, directing, dramaturgy, and design) and introduces students to how to read and understand a play. For students interested in a deeper study of theater, we offer extensive academic offerings which include courses such as Acting Workshop, Musical Theater, Theater and Social Change, and Theater Design. Advanced students work directly with faculty on their specific discipline as part of the Advanced Performing Arts Tutorial.
Co-Curricular: We produce three Main Stage productions a year, which rehearse during the after school co-curricular period. Actors who sign up to perform will audition at the start of each trimester. Students can also participate in Scenic Arts Design, where they will create the set and props for the productions. Experienced students often serve as designers, choreographers, stage managers, and assistant directors.
Each season explores a central theme and our productions come from diverse source material, including contemporary naturalistic texts, Shakespeare, ancient and early modern texts, devised theater, and an annual winter musical. Recent productions have included: Rent, Laramie Project, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Our Town, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Secret in the Wings.
Extra-Curricular: Students may also participate in theater during club periods, evenings, and weekends. Interested students can join the Light and Audio Design Club, the Drama Club, the Make-Up and Costume Team, and the backstage crew. These students play an important role in bringing our productions to performance. Selected students make up the Theater and Dance Student Council, who serve as student producers.