One of the standout successes from this past school year was our Lower School Drama Club. In this blog, we explore why the after-school club had a record number of participants, how each student thrived, and what is in store to make it even more fantastically fabulous this coming year!
Before the curtain opened on Seussical: The Musical in June, the BASIS Independent Manhattan Drama Club journey started in November. Ms. Boscolo (Drama Subject Expert Teacher) began her preparations and planning so that when rehearsals rolled around in February, she and her creative team were more than ready to get started with the 38 students in grades 1-5.
Ranging in age, ability, and interest, Ms. Boscolo approaches directing (and teaching) by leveraging what is exciting to kids. This year's crop of students expressed a curiosity for lighting design, a love of dance, and a desire to build confidence, to name a few. From there, each student's role was developed to suit their age and interests.
Further, Ms. Boscolo believes that your ability is only limited by what you think you can do. It was her goal to have everyone do everything in Drama Club. "I knew these kids could handle it." She explained, "We had a 2nd grader playing one of the lead roles, 5th graders working fly rigs on the catwalk, and a 4th grader programming the entire lighting board."
The kids were given opportunities, and they rose to the challenge. The audience rose to their feet to applaud the fully-staged production. Reflecting on how it all went, Ms. Boscolo was most surprised to see students who had never acted before taking the stage with joy and confidence, while first-time stage crew members comfortably worked the lights and sound.
"I’ll never forget the show for our staff and students. It was beyond special to watch the entire community come together to celebrate these kids and how they put everything out there on the stage!"
Setting the Stage
Next year, Ms. Boscolo has big plans to elevate our performing arts program, and not just figuratively. The black box theater at our Lower School campus is getting outfitted with an elevated stage. "I am so excited about the stage. It will allow us to incorporate more skill-based learning into the drama program. Actors will work in a more challenging play space, helping build confidence and enhance public speaking skills. The tech crew can build larger and more advanced sets, too." Ms. Boscolo added, "From a directorial standpoint, the stage opens up so many new ways to tell stories and show off the students' work."
Despite the success, Ms. Boscolo will not settle. She is looking to grow the after-school drama club and enhance the experience for as many Wildcat students as possible.
To accommodate the growing student interest, there will now be three clubs that make up the after-school drama program. Ms. Boscolo said, “Now we can have 100 students, and we hope every interested student will join and participate.”
The plan is to have these three separate yet connected clubs:
- Drama Club - Performers will do the acting, singing, and dancing.
- Tech Crew - Students handle the lighting and sound, led by an NYC-based stage manager and Technical Director who has primarily worked in off-Broadway theaters.
- Design Club - The focus will be on sewing costumes, creating set pieces, and decorating the theater.
With a separate lead teacher for each club, the students will get specialized instruction and hands-on experience with every aspect of that craft.
We cannot wait to see what hits the stage next year, but even more so, how our students display their creativity, collaborate as a team in their theater family, and build life-long skills.
Ms. Boscolo’s guiding principle is for each student to take something from drama that they can use in other areas of their life. “Whether they are bound for Broadway or not, if my students gain public speaking skills, learn how to collaborate with others, or just get a boost of confidence, then I’ve done my job!”