Eighth graders dressed in black surround the piano in B-100, preparing a five-minute version of The Scottish Play, or, as it is known to those of us who are not drama students, Macbeth. The three girls playing the witches kneel together, reaching out as a three-bodied entity but speaking as individuals. They recite the prophecies of the play from memory but pause before the last, racking their memories in search of the right words. One runs out to grab her binder; the others discuss bows for a minute. The girls flip through the pages of the script frantically before finding what they were looking for and then picking up where they left off.
Spontaneous moments like these separate Open Studio from other Performing Arts events at the School, making it less of a simple presentation and more of a window into the work behind the art. On Dec. 6, family and friends were given an exclusive look at what goes on behind the scenes in both Middle and Upper School drama classes.
“I get to see performances no matter what,” said Pilar ’15, who is not taking a drama class this year, “but classwork is usually something reserved for the people in the class.”
In Caswell Hall, the event began with a “warm-up circle” by Drama I students to prepare the performers’ bodies for the work ahead. Drama students ran and stretched before dropping into push-ups in a series of exercises that would seem more at home before an athletic event than a drama performance.
Meanwhile, Drama III students held a personal warm-up in Lower Dance, preparing themselves emotionally, rather than physically.
“We’ve dedicated a lot of time to developing our own personal warm-up,” Drama III student Rachel ’14 said. “The way we warm up is different for every person.”
Before all the drama students broke off to their respective performance locations around the Caryll Mudd Sprague Performing Arts Center, the Drama Ensemble girls were told by Performing Arts Department Head Anne Scarbrough that they would be performing a collection of monologues from Twilight: Los Angeles, a play about the LA riots. The group had not worked on the piece in months but recreated the performance within an afternoon.