What can you expect from a Year in the Life of Paly Theatre?
The Paly Theatre Department program consists of both classroom and extracurricular opportunities. The Theatre Director (Kathleen Woods) teaches Theatre 1, Theatre 2, Theatre 3-4, Theatre 4 Honors and Stage Tech. In addition, the department puts on two large productions each year (one in the spring and one in the fall) as well as numerous Thespian Club and class related shows. Every other year the spring production is a musical that involves the Music Department.
Each semester, students enrolled in a Paly theatre class attend one off-campus, professional production of a play during the school day.
Classes often include instructional units presented by professional guest artists. Examples include dialect training, stage combat work and acting technique seminars.
All classes have public performances for friends and family as part of the curriculum.
Theatre 3, 4 and 4 Honors students also participate in a professionally adjudicated Audition Showcase and TheatreWorks’ Young Playwright’s Project. Theatre 1 and 2 students attend these events. These are particularly unique aspects of Paly’s theatre program and a number of students have gone on to pursue acting and playwriting in college as a result of these experiences.
Participation in Paly productions is open to all Paly students. Additional theatre productions add opportunities for students who cannot commit to a full stage production are described below.
Once a year students and faculty are cast in staged readings of contemporary shows. The rehearsal period is very short and there is one evening performance given at no charge.
Play in a Day
On the Friday in December when school lets out for the Winter Break (that day is always a Minimum Day) students meet to plan “Play in a Day”. The entire play is written, blocked, staged, and performed within 24 hours (with a few hours of leeway). The one and only performance is on the next night, a Saturday. Play in a Day attracts a wide variety of students, including many theatre department alums!
In May students get to try their hand at directing a “One Act” play. These are often student written, but need not be. Students take responsibility for the entire production, from casting, blocking, and costuming, to sound and lighting. Between six and eight One Acts are produced and performed the second weekend in May.
Every year twenty-one eligible theatre students travel to Ashland, Oregon in early April to enjoy five performances by the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Company and to participate in theatre workshops. This trip occurs over a Thursday-Sunday weekend, in conjunction with the Gunn Theatre Department. For many students, this is a highlight of their high school experience.
Ms. Woods reactivated Paly’s Thespian Troupe 909 when she arrived in 2007. As a chapter of the International Thespian Society, (an honor organization) admission to the troop is governed by their rules. Each September Thespians have the opportunity to participate in a Leadership Conference, which is held locally. Each spring Thespians also have the opportunity to travel to the State Thespian Conference in Southern California. In addition, the Thespian Society at Paly holds monthly meetings, biannual barbeques and supports Paly Theatre in innumerable ways.
On the last Saturday in May the graduating seniors are feted at the Senior Showcase. Each senior is introduced by a more junior theatre student and each senior performs a piece of his or her own choosing. This tradition ensures that the seniors have a heartfelt send off from the theatre department in recognition of their dedication to the program.