Waterford’s theater department instructs students to become technical masters of the art as well as to open emotionally, physically and intellectually to creative inspiration. Through classes in acting, voice, movement, and dramatic literature and theory, students develop as confident actors. Theater helps students navigate personal challenges by providing them with the tools and space for self-expression. Students are celebrated for being vulnerable and taking risks--to that end, students are encouraged to audition for school productions and engage with performance opportunities when available.
The Waterford Theater Department is structured as an actor training program. The core curriculum includes two terms each of Acting, Movement, and Voice, for a total of six terms (two years). Courses in Acting Shakespeare, Dramatic Literature and Theory, and Auditions are also offered. The program is production-centered, meaning we place a high value on student engagement with the great plays of the theatrical canon through performance. To that end, we produce three plays each year (one per term), one of which is a Shakespeare play.
Each fall, all Middle School students may audition for the Middle School Play. In addition to this, all Class Eight students are required to take one term of Introduction to Theater. Students will survey the Upper School core curriculum, which includes acting fundamentals, articulation and voice production technique, and mask work. Much of the focus will be on the cultivation of vulnerability. In Middle School, students are rapidly building walls to protect themselves in what can often be a challenging emotional environment. These walls cut off connection to emotions and creativity, and once they are up, it is difficult for most to break through them. Throughout the term, students will participate in exercises that will help them break through these walls. When the walls are down, the actor is in a state of vulnerability, and from there is able to access creative potential.
Each spring, students from Classes Four and Five may audition for the Lower School Play. Past productions include Rip Van Winkle, The Tempest, Where the Wild Things Are, Crow and Weasel, and many more.
Meet the Director: Javen Tanner
Javen Tanner, Dean of Arts and Theater Department Chair, received his M.F.A. from The Old Globe / University of San Diego, where he was awarded the Craig Noel Fellowship. He has performed off-Broadway and regionally. Javen is the Artistic Director of The Sting & Honey Company.