Sixth Grade Takes the Stage
On Friday, sixth graders presented their class plays to Lower School students, family, and friends in Harris Theater. The plays were written and directed by drama teacher Kathryn Maslak.
Each section of sixth grade performed their own short play tailored to the students in each class. “Each year, I choose an overarching theme for the three plays as a means of connection,” says Kathryn, “However, each play has a different set of characters, setting, and plot.”
In years past, the themes have ranged from Greek myths and fairytale characters on trial to mystery plays. This year’s theme was "Alternate Universes." “This all-encompassing theme allowed for each play to be set in a different world, where a unique circumstance is occurring,” says Kathryn.
6-1’s play, Lawn Order, explored the trial of famous lawn-care celebrities as the judge tries to find out who destroyed an elaborate topiary. 6-2’s play, Stunt Doubles, is the story of Casey, a regular girl who wakes up one day to discover that the ‘doubles’ that help her complete the tasks that she does not want to do (such as chores, school, running) have taken over her life. Finally, 6-3’s play, The Family Business, transported the audience to Mount Olympus, where the Greek gods have gathered for a family meeting because Zeus has gone missing.
In the fall term of sixth grade, students are introduced to drama through games, improvisation, and scene work culminating in the sixth grade plays. Kathryn writes the characters in each play as archetypes noting that it is easier for students to play broad characters at this age than specific ones. “Specificity and nuance in acting are a direct result of experience and time,” says Kathryn. “Therefore, as an entry level to the world of theater-making, we give students characters that they can understand and connect to.” The “popular girl in class” or the “tough but fair-minded judge” are characters that students are familiar with from books, television, and movies. “For example, last year one of the students played a Texas oil tycoon. This required the student to attempt a Southern accent, wear an oversized cowboy hat, and use idioms and expressions that are specifically southern,” says Kathryn. “Playing generally broad characters allows the students to access what they know already, drawing from movies and books, and bring that knowledge into a physical form.” Click here to view a gallery of photos from the sixth grade play.