The middle school performing arts program includes a number of opportunities for young thespians to hone their skills and share their gifts with the community. Whether it is students in an August Wilson piece, performing improv, or in the large-cast fall musical, our performing arts program has room for the first-time actor and for those that have been on stage for years. Many students opt to support performances by taking on a critical back-stage roll. Students help to build sets, assemble costumes, and run sound and lighting boards. There is room for everyone who is interested, and no matter what, the show must go on!
For our youngest learners, frequent participation in performing arts helps them learn to express themselves in many ways, gain comfort with taking risks, and become confident performers. Lower School students learn and grow rapidly—from facility with language to awareness of their bodies, and understanding how they think, feel, and function within the communities in which they live.
Every Lower School student participates in performing arts as part of their classroom experience as performance is used to both develop and demonstrate learning.
Throughout their time in Middle School, students have a variety of opportunities to engage in the performing arts. Each fall, the middle school Musical Theatre Academy mounts a full-scale musical, in which all Middle School students are welcome to participate. In addition, seventh and eighth grade students who are a part of the musical attend the Play Production elective for the fall semester. Previous performances have included Newsies, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls.
Performing arts are also woven into interdisciplinary studies. An example of one such project is “Adaptations of Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol," where students read the original book, discussed it in depth, watched several film adaptations, and then adapted the work as directors, writers, and actors.
In the seventh grade, students participate in the Drama Conservatory, a treasured part of the Nueva Middle School experience. Beginning in February, students meet twice a week with professional directors and actors from around the Bay Area. After rigorous work honing thespian skills ranging from character study to stage combat, students divide up and dive into various productions, including improvisation, Shakespeare, and contemporary or classic works. After performing for the Nueva community, the grade travels together to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where they experience professional performances of shows they just completed.
Performing arts in the Upper School bring together experiences that build students' self-assurance and life skills. In addition to igniting a passion for the stage, students learn kinesthetic and dramatic skills, improved self-confidence and public speaking techniques, and the ability to accept and apply feedback, time management, commitment, and collaboration with an ensemble.
Performing arts are also an avenue to forge interdisciplinary connections, deepening the study of humanities and bringing meaning to history. For example, twelfth graders studying Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream took a trip to the SF Ballet to explore how the piece they had been studying was translated to the stage.
The Upper School produces an annual fall play and a spring musical. Upper School performing arts electives include Acting I and II, Fall Drama Production, and Musical Theater.
Driven by student passion and interest, Upper School students in 2018 created Coffeehouse, an evening for people to share their creative talents with the community, especially in music and the arts.