Upper School Drama Courses
The Pennington School offers a variety of drama courses that cover concepts in acting, directing, and technical theatre. A basic course stresses the fundamentals of performing onstage alone and in a group setting. Intermediate level courses focus on specific areas, such as acting in scenes and monologues, improvisation and movement, theatre history, and stage crafts. An advanced yearlong course prepares the student for a future in theatre by exploring acting and directing in an ensemble setting. The Senior Seminar course prepares students for a college career in Theatre Arts. Graduating senior drama students have gone on to pursue writing, acting, technical theatre, and directing at schools such as New York University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Barnard College, Carnegie Mellon, University of Cincinnati, and the University of the Arts.
The fall play is the first undertaking of each year. The production goes up in early November, and participants receive activities credits for the fall season. The fall play sets a tone for all of the productions to follow: it provides students with a chance to delve individually into a character and to be a part of an ensemble group. Past fall plays include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Laramie Project, and Romeo and Juliet.
The musical is a winter activity that provides three arenas of production in which students participate: cast, crew, and pit band. The production schedule for the musical is quite demanding, and each arena has separate expectations, rehearsals, and opportunities that culminate in the production of an entertaining and professional show. The musical is the highlight of drama each year. Past musicals include Crazy for You, Seussical, and Footloose. In the recent past, Pennington students have won awards in Excellence in Acting, Excellence in Cameo Acting, and Excellence in Ensemble Acting at Rider University, as well as recognition in the New Jersey Thespian Festival.
The spring play is a collection of original work written and directed by members of the senior class. It provides the seniors with a chance to produce their own work, and other students with a chance to be directed by a peer. The one-acts are completely student produced; cast and crew work together on all aspects of lighting, set construction, and costuming. The Spring Play is an exciting culmination of seniors’ experiences in writing, directing, acting, and technical theatre.
Not your ordinary drama club, the Dramatic Society is a student-founded and -run organization that provides students with a variety of trips, performance opportunities, and fun throughout each year. The society was founded in 1995 in order to raise dramatic awareness at Pennington and has grown each year, with current membership around forty students. Trips to local theatres in Mercer and Bucks counties are offered a few times a year. The Dramatic Society sponsors three Coffeehouses per year. These are open-mike and provide all Pennington students, faculty, and members of the community with a chance to perform musically or theatrically, to read original writings, or just to observe. Recently the Society has become active at Homecoming, as well. The Dramatic Society meets once a week and welcomes all new and interested students, artists and athletes alike.
The International Thespian Society is an honorary theatre organization operated by the Educational Theatre Association. Pennington students who have completed 150 hours of dramatic experience at Pennington are eligible for induction into this prestigious group. Since 2000, The Pennington School has added 100 students to its roster of accomplished thespians. Additional hours are recognized by the Society through the awarding of honors stars, and dedicated members frequently graduate with over 500 hours of service to Pennington.
In May 2006, we were honored with an invitation to perform at the American High School Theatre Festival at the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2007 in Scotland. Thirty-eight students will perform and travel throughout the United Kingdom through this unique opportunity. The Pennington School is one of twenty-four schools that will represent the best of American High School theatre at the festival. We are very proud of this honor.