From their first days at Potomac, children learn about themselves and the wider world by performing. Having a sympathetic audience, and being part of one for others, is central to our mission that all voices be heard.
U pper School students focus more deeply and selectively on their dramatic interests in a fully curricular theater program. The theater program has a two-pronged approach: the classroom experience and extracurricular performance.
In the classroom, students take an introductory course that looks at theater from various perspectives, including history, literature, sociology, and performance. Advanced, skill-based courses give students opportunities to focus on different elements of theater, including acting, directing, and stagecraft. Students may also create and register for independent study classes, such as African-American theater, musical theater, and Shakespeare in performance. Classes are taught in our state-of-the-art black box theater or in the fully equipped Langstaff Proscenium Theater and Shop.
Extracurricular performances include three full-scale productions each year, including a musical. Our shows are chosen to create opportunities for our students and audiences to experience a wide range of theatrical forms and styles. In any given year, there might be a Shakespeare play, a classic American musical, and an experimental, ensemble-based original play. Actors, directors, and designers are encouraged to stretch their abilities, to develop new skills, and to work together with creativity and respect. Performances generally take place in the Langstaff or in the black box, but have also been staged in outdoor locations around campus.
Spring play canceled due to Covid
I ntermediate School students may perform in the winter musical, an exciting annual event in which a large ensemble cast presents an abridged version of a popular show such as Fiddler on the Roof or The Pirates of Penzance. This performance is a school-wide favorite!
The cast then participates in a culminating activity, such as entering the Folger Secondary School Shakespeare Festival, writing an original sketch comedy show, or performing plays based on favorite children's books.
In the Middle School, exploration continues through dramatic experiences. Each homeroom class performs a play – sometimes drawn from a published script, but quite often developed in the classroom and inspired by literature, folklore, and direct experience. Music, movement, costumes, and simple stage settings amplify the transformation of students into their created characterizations.
In seasonal assemblies and in some class plays, Middle School students use the Langstaff Theater. This is a larger setting for a wider audience, which nevertheless feels intimate with its low stage and highly adaptable proscenium.
Lower School students are offered a variety of opportunities to perform for their peers. In small classroom plays, students learn to step beyond their own experiences as they develop their roles and bring literature to life. In weekly assemblies, they combine original characterizations with storytelling, movement, and music to delight and inform their peers. Not surprisingly, they develop tremendous poise and focus over a period of years at Potomac.
In all of these formative experiences, performance is not the end product, but a step forward in developing presence and self-possession. Performance is embodied in the active, confident child who is self-expressive and attentive to others.
US Theater Teacher
IS Theater Teacher
Theater Manager and Technical Director