Durham Academy students are no stranger to the stage, from those memorizing lines for their first class play as Preschoolers, to the cast and crew staging the Upper School winter musical for at-capacity crowds in Kenan Auditorium. Regardless of a student's age, participation in theatre helps boost students' self-confidence, hones problem-solving and oral-language skills, and encourages emotional regulation and empathy.
The winter musical is the centerpiece of the Upper School's performing arts program. The musical is a collaborative effort by all performing arts disciplines — with actors, dancers, vocalists, instrumentalists, stage managers and crew members each playing an integral role.
Each pre-kindergarten and kindergarten class produces a play each year — typically adapted from a beloved children's book or folk tale, like The Empty Pot and Little Red Hen. Every single student has a speaking part (with memorized lines), and children work with teachers to create their own costumes. After much rehearsing, students put their hard work on display for a beaming audience of family members and fellow Preschoolers.
Lower School drama classes support the literacy curriculum by encouraging children to visualize and make connections with poems, fables, fairy tales and short stories. Students act out plays, experiment with playwriting and improvisation, and practice stage presence.
Lower Schoolers attend drama class once in each eight-day rotation.
For many Lower Schoolers, a much-anticipated tradition is the fourth grade play. This production is a truly student-produced performance, with students acting as writers, actors, costume designers and musicians. Students work together to write a new script each year in drama class, and each fourth-grader has a speaking part and sings. In addition, many students play musical instruments. Students stage the play twice: once for fellow Lower Schoolers, and once for an appreciative audience of family members and friends.