The dramatic arts are a central aspect of each student's experience at Nueva. Integrated into classroom curricula, each grade uses drama as a way to deepen the study of humanities. From Greek tragedies, to Shakespeare, to original plays penned by classes, students learn the importance of structure, form, dialogue, and performance. Each grade studies how drama has mirrored the development of culture and society around the world, and how it has directly affected historical events.
Drama-related opportunities abound such as working with professional actors, choreographers, set designers, costumers, and other drama professionals. Students also see productions both locally, and in Oregon, Washington, DC, and other areas. These opportunities arise both in core curricula, through musical theater, or both.
In addition to the study of drama, students can delve deeply into the world of musical theater. With offerings for both Lower and Middle School students, members of our musical theater productions learn the entire process of putting on a show. All participants audition for parts, learn dialogue, songs, and choreography, learn blocking, staging, set design and more. Importantly, after months of rehearsals, the student cast and crew put on striking performances with full sets and costumes!
With drama in the classroom and musical theater as electives, there are frequent and high-quality opportunities for each Nueva student to go as deeply into the dramatic arts as their passion dictates.
In seventh grade humanities, there is an extensive drama component within the humanities curriculum during the second semester during the Nueva Drama Conservatory. The program is a cornerstone of the Nueva experience. Local professional directors introduce students to a variety of exercises and acting skills (stage combat, improv acting and singing, physical comedy, playwriting, and textual analysis) before the group breaks up to rehearse and perform four to five plays.
Students examine and produce Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Troilus and Cressida, and Anton Chekov's The Seagull, as well as a Second City–like Improv Showcase. The term ends with culminating performances and a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see professional productions of the shows the class performed.
Simultaneously, students take a dramaturgy course in which they engage deeply with Shakespeare's language through analysis and discussion and learn the art of rhetoric using classical models of form and codified rhetorical strategies. In the end, students have owned Shakespeare's language and are able to speak eloquently about his work and words. They also gain tremendous confidence and presence over the semester, ready to be the leaders of the school when they return in eighth grade.