The Theatre Arts Department at Sallie B. Howard School is a nationally-recognized program known for its excellence in performance and production of plays and musicals that have delighted local audiences since 2001. It is our mission and passion to prepare students for the competitive field of theatre. Alumni from our theatre program have embraced this art form and have gone on to excel in various arts programs around the country.
Our honors include receiving the first Lin-Wright Professional Teaching Grant from the American Alliance of Theatre Educators for the creation of an original play about the challenges of immigrant students; and being tapped to produce the original play, “Making a Way Out of No Way,” written by Laurel Sneed, founder of the Apprend Foundation. This play portrayed the unique lives of enslaved entrepreneurs in North Carolina in the 1800’s.
Theatre Arts promotes critical and creative thinking, teaches life skills, and develops students’ understanding of other people. The socials skills practiced every day in Theatre class allow students to gain greater self-awareness and self-confidence. Theatre Arts also promotes intuition, analysis, and problem-solving. It helps focus one’s emotions for controlled use and disciplines the voice and body for a purposeful use.
Our program is designed to discover and develop the acting skills of our students. We base our curriculum on the North Carolina Essential Standards for Theatre Arts. All grades are guided to write dramatic material according to their level.
In grades K-1, students attend Theatre Arts class once a week (they do not audition). At this age, children are exposed to theatre in a friendly and creative way. These students explore the possibilities of body and vocal expression through well-planned and well-researched “teacher-guided games” which introduce them to the realm of acting. Later in the school year, students are exposed to dramatic texts and more formal ways to participate in a performance.
In grades 2-8, students are considered majors and attend Theatre Arts class every day. Placement of these students is based on audition results. In major classes, students receive training in specific theatre techniques according to their age and grade level. Having more time, theatre majors are able to learn more about the craft and explore acting, production, history, and playwriting.
Students will be asked to act “on the spot” through a cold reading or an improvisation. This is designed to show the student’s ability to become different characters and demonstrate voice and body changes.
The audition will involve interaction with others, so a positive attitude and a willingness to perform is crucial. Upon prior approval from the judges, middle School students are welcome to present a well-prepared and memorized one-minute monologue.
All student actors are expected to participate in daily physical and vocal exercises. Students will learn the fundamentals of acting and technical theatre technique through theory and improvisation. They will also read and analyze plays, learn the different styles of drama and forms of theatre throughout history, and experience the rehearsal and production process of a play. Theatre students are expected to take notes, keep a journal, take written tests, and make project presentations.
PERFORMANCES AND AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
Every year, the Theatre Arts Department produces a play and a musical that theatre majors can audition for and participate in. These productions are held both during school hours and in the evening for the public. The Theatre Arts Department is also actively involved in the production and assistance of all school shows.
All theatre students will be expected to participate in and audition for a role in all school shows. (Being in theatre class does not guarantee a role). For production/crew positions, technical theatre students will be chosen based on need for the show as well as the student’s desire and abilities. All shows are cast by audition and based on the student’s effort in class. If cast, students are obligated to commit to the shows. Some rehearsals will take place after school and parents will need to provide transportation. It is the student’s responsibility to report to the theater at least an hour before the show’s start time. Announcements are always sent prior to the shows and rehearsals.
40% Participation in class
10% Written assignments
10% Tests/Projects (Passing tests permits you to audition for shows)
*IMPORTANT: low grades in the arts classes disqualify students for the A/B Honor Roll.
SUPPLIES, MATERIALS, AND CLOTHING
Theatre Arts class does not require special clothing, but we strongly recommend that girls wear uniform pants in order to feel comfortable. Classes often include expressive and “uncommon” movement. If cast in a show, a $20 donation fee is required for each production to help cover the cost for costumes and props. Personal items such as tights, socks, undergarments, etc. should be provided by the student for hygiene purposes.
Diana Torres is Dean of Arts and Humanities and has been at Sallie B. Howard School since 2000. She is originally from Mexico City, Mexico and has a BFA in Theatre and Acting. She has been licensed in K-12 Theatre Arts Education since 2005. While working professionally as an actress for years, Mrs. Torres has taught voice and acting lessons to mass communications majors at the university level.
Amanda Janson has been at Sallie B. Howard School since 2017. Originally from Chicago, IL, she holds a BFA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Directing and Stage Management. After working professionally in the theatre world for years, she taught English as a Second Language in South Korea. Ms. Janson has taught theatre in North Carolina since 2014.