Producing a middle school musical is an exciting but sometimes chaotic experience. This process of working with young thespians has been described as “trying to contain a basket full of puppies.” Their energy and enthusiasm are charming, but keeping them all focused is the challenge. Something magical always happens on opening night as these bouncy puppies are transformed. The curtain opens to reveal talented, focused middle school performers who look and act far beyond their years. How does it happen?
The middle school drama program has been making a difference in the lives of Greensboro Day School middle school students for many years. Some schools have taken drama out of the middle school in favor of more academic time. Those of us who understand the adolescent realize that helping students to tap into their creativity and imagination is developmentally appropriate and necessary in teaching the whole child. Students who are encouraged to develop their creative side are more successful with their other academics. Acting is also a physical activity, which helps a young person to focus his/her creative energy in a positive, productive way.
Being a part of a show teaches a student responsibility, cooperation, focus, and empathy. Sometimes the shy student who is reluctant to participate in other activities shines on the stage. During the awkward stage of adolescence, some students feel more comfortable portraying a character on stage because they can be someone different from themselves. For others, it is a confidence booster. It is a time to explore and find a supportive community. Many students find success and acceptance on as well as off stage.
Each year, the middle school produces at least one musical in which all students are invited to participate either as cast or crew-members. They will explore the art of theater through staging, singing, speaking, and dancing. Students on the crew learn about the technical aspects of a show including how to be an effective leader. Students learn these theater skills from dedicated, seasoned theater teachers. Past shows have included Little Mermaid, Jr., Aladdin, Jr., Oliver!, Back to the 80’s, Shrek the Musical, Jr., and The Music Man, Jr. Students who participate in multiple productions can be honored as inductees in the Junior Thespian Society; our middle school troupe charter was established in May of 1993.
The Greensboro Day School middle school drama program offers students a creative outlet during a very awkward and confusing time in their lives. While a few of these students may one day choose drama as a career, most will use the knowledge and experience in the theater to become effective, enthusiastic audience members. Our school is fortunate to have a supportive administration who values the arts and talented teachers who find joy in unlocking yet another creative voice. There is truly magic in the middle.