The stage lights in Fenn's Ward Hall shone brightly again in early November as we welcomed back live performances with a Middle School production of Sherlock Holmes and the 1st Baker Street Irregular by Brian Guehring.
Our sixth and seventh grade thespians and skilled tech crew delivered a masterful performance before Middle School classmates and faculty and staff during a special assembly that marked the first main stage production at Fenn since March 2020. All other school audiences were treated to a video viewing of the performance due to COVID seating protocols in Ward Hall.
Amy Menkin, who directed the play, had high praise for the boys' energy and enthusiasm as they brought the show to life during such unprecedented times. "I commend this group of boys for the hard work and courage that they put into this show," she shared. "I feel so lucky to have such a great group of boys and supporters around me."
Partnering with Menkin on the production was faculty colleague and Technical Director, Rob Morrison, who passed the Director baton on to colleague Tom O'Connor following the performance after 21 years of service to Fenn's Theatre Department. Thank you, Mr. Morrison, for empowering your tech crews to learn and lead behind the scenes!
Following a review of basic acting techniques, fifth grade drama students will participate in a short one-act play with special focus on multicultural theater, in relation to fifth grade curriculum. Once roles have been assigned, students will personalize their parts through character analysis and design. Students will also take on small technical responsibilities back-stage. Students are expected to support each other at all times, both on and backstage. The play, with costumes, make-up, and simple sets will be presented to the fifth grade at the end of the term.
This course offers an exploratory view of multiple forms of theater and an introduction to stagecraft. During the trimester, they will learn about the elements of how a show is produced (set design, costume design, lighting and sound design). They will then have the opportunity to design many of these elements for a scene that they are cast in. Students will analyze and develop their scene characters both individually and with their scene partners. The term will culminate with a ‘Scene Showcase’ in which students will share their complete theatrical scenes with technical elements.
The Upper School program offers a comprehensive list of opportunities in all aspects of theatre. Building on the foundation acquired in the Lower and Middle School drama programs, the pieces selected and performed in the Upper School are advanced and require artistic commitment, truthful characterization, effective ensemble work, and risk-taking. Actors receive individual attention with regard to acting skills such as character development, emotional expression, physical movement, motivation, vocal delivery, and staging techniques. Theater Tech classes allow boys to gain in-depth experience in lighting, sound, set design, and stage managing. Video Production introduces boys to filming, editing, script writing, acting, and directing.
Drama offerings vary by term, but include the fall drama production, the winter musical (held in cooperation with Nashoba-Brooks School and the Fenn music program, and hosted in alternate years at Fenn), as well as the spring comedy, and classes such as Improv, Theatre Tech, and Video Production. Many of the courses require additional time commitments beyond the scheduled class periods, and in some cases weekend commitment. Each of these courses culminates in at least one performance, and some plays are performed for audiences two or three times.
Theater Tech covers the technical aspects of a theater production. Students are expected to learn the history and theory of various effects as well as their practical use. This course is organized so that half of the time boys are involved in 'hands-on' experience while the remainder is conducted in a lecture and discussion setting. Class members may be called upon to assist technically with the Upper School fall play, the Middle School fall play, the Fenn-Nashoba Musical, the Upper School spring comedy, and various Lower School plays.