Visual & Performing Arts Concentration
The Visual and Performing Arts Concentration (VPAC) program is part of an arts curriculum known for its longstanding commitment to excellence and individual growth. It is offered for Upper School students who wish to undertake a deep and rigorous study in the arts. Members of VPAC participate in the academic exploration of their discipline by completing recommended classes and dedicating significant time each week to their work in the studio, theater, or rehearsal space. Additionally, they prepare themselves for continued study and artistic growth, no matter their post-secondary plans. Not every VPAC student will enter a specialized conservatory or university program in the arts after graduating from Potomac, but every student will acquire the skills, techniques, and confidence necessary for future artistic development.
- Advanced Music Theory (year)
- Music History or Jazz Arrangement (semester)
- Weekly private instrumental or voice lessons Independent practice for four afternoons per week (2 hours each)
- Participation in Potomac’s Band, Bells, Chorus, or Strings ensemble each semester
- Performance in a VPAC Music recital each year
- Extracurricular Theatre: 2 seasons per year, at least 1 season during the three years in a non-performance role
- Ensemble Theater (semester)
- VPAC 10: Actor’s Workshop 1 (semester): This course offers the serious acting student opportunities to discover and assemble a personal approach to performance. Because of the small class size (the VPAC Theater program has a limited number of acceptances each year), individual attention is given to the students as they begin the process of identifying their strengths and weaknesses as actors. Developing a common language of analysis and criticism empowers the students to closely examine the processes and strategies that they use to develop a performance, and assess them for consistency and effectiveness. Discussions of acting methods and exercises from different techniques, ranging from traditional text-based acting theory to contemporary uses of mask and movement, guides the students toward creating their own acting method based on their successes in these exercises. Text analysis, character work, improvisation, and theater games expose students to a variety of skills that can be applied to traditional and experimental monologues and scenes. Increased literacy in the body of dramatic writings is fostered by exposure to plays and discussions of performance. Students keep a journal to record their responses to the exercises and reading material. The specific content of each section of the course may vary, based upon the needs and discoveries of the members of the class.
- Theater History (semester)
- VPAC 11: Actor’s Workshop 2 (year): This course is a continuation of the work begun in VPAC 10: Actor’s Workshop 1, with a focus on physical approaches to performance. Each actor will begin to develop, through movement-based theater methods, an understanding of what and how the body communicates elements of character, objective, and relationship. The course begins with an assessment: what do I do physically on stage? Developing techniques and strategies to make each performer aware of what they are doing physically combines with the verbal and emotional work of other methods to produce a more flexible actor with a greater range of performance. A focus on mask work, physical improvisation, and the importance of physical choices in stylistic period acting, provide opportunities for each student to explore the skills of performance in greater depth. The ultimate goal is twofold: to guide the actors toward creating a personal approach to performance, combining skills from a variety of methods, and to give the actors tools for self-assessment in real-world audition and performance situations. Students keep a journal to record their responses to the exercises and reading material. The specific content of each section of the course may vary, based upon the needs and discoveries of the members of the class. Prerequisite: The successful completion of the 10th grade VPAC in Theatre courses.
- VPAC 12: Actor’s Workshop 3 (year): The final course in the three year sequence of Actor’s Workshops and the completion of the Visual and Performing Arts Concentration in Theatre, Actor’s Workshop 3 has three main foci- to challenge students to articulate what they’ve learned about their approach to performance through monologues and scene work, to give students an opportunity to develop supplemental materials for the college application process, and to work on material for the Senior Showcase, presented at the end of the school year. The specific content of the course is generated by discussions with the students to identify the skills of acting that they have learned in the previous two years and wish to continue to explore. This might take the form of a deeper dive into a particular method, or finding scripts that will push the individual student to stretch an acting skillset. Students are encouraged to be daring in their choices and introspective in the process of selecting and engaging with new material. In addition, the students will learn about alternatives to more traditional acting and directing styles, giving them a broader sense of what the “outside world” of theatre beyond Potomac might look like.
VPAC Visual Arts
- One visual arts course each year (semester or year)
- Honors Art History (year)
- Studio work in the winter season Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 3:30-5:30 pm daily
- Solo art exhibition in senior year