In 4th and 5th grade theater (spring), students focus on creating strong characters through building the actor's toolbox. Students work on animal characters used in the spring performance and on characters from scenes they study in class. The class focuses on the physicality of characters, line memorization, movement, and vocalization.
In 6th grade theater (winter), students focus on acting skills used for scene work and monologues. Students may choose a scene or monologue on which to work and spend classes memorizing, rehearsing, and performing their pieces. Utilizing the acting technique Lucid Body, students work on building characters from a neutral place and focus on the relationship between characters.
In the fall 7th grade theater students take on the challenging task of performing Shakespeare. In the beginning of the term, students gain confidence with Shakespearean English and in creating distinct physical characteristics. For the remainder of the term, students focus on rehearsal techniques, memorizing lines, and character development.
In the winter 7th grade theater students study an abridged version of a Shakespeare play. Students choose the play they want to perform, audition for roles, work on memorizing lines, and practice blocking. They read the script and become familiar with Shakespearean English. Using the acting technique Lucid Body, students work on creating characters physically different from themselves.
In the spring 7th grade theater students continue their study of Shakespeare. Students are provided scenes from the comedy As You Like It and translate those scenes into modern English. Students then memorize and rehearse their scenes, using improvisation to enhance their character creation and stage presence. They perform these scenes on the final days of class.
- Community Projects Students work on a variety of projects based on the needs of the school, including setting up lighting and sound equipment in the Pavilion and installing a semi-permanent stage for performances. In recent years, they renovated the campus tree house, framed and sided a new woodshed, and rebuilt a root cellar under the barn.
- Culinary Arts While not a performing art (at least not usually), culinary arts are offered as an elective to 8th and 9th graders. Students learn sustainable food systems and cooking techniques for preparing a variety of dishes. Recipes highlight seasonal and local ingredients and introduce a number of cooking techniques. Activities include seed planting/soil preparation, and making rosemary crackers, mozzarella cheese, maple candies, maple vinaigrette, and goat milk lotion.
- Improv Everywhere Students learn the five rules of improvisation and how to work with their peers to build a scene. Using characterization worksheets and choosing characters, they create personalities for their characters and practice improvisation.
- Making A Scene Students learn what makes a scene interesting for an audience by studying C.R.O.W. (Character, Relationship, Objective, and Where). They learn to open scenes, give them significance, make transitions and provide feedback to their peers.
- Public Speaking Students gain confidence and learn skills and strategies for public speaking. They watch and ready Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, choose a social issue about which they feel passionate, and write, perform and film a speech.
- Stagecraft Students are introduced to design techniques used to create sets for theatrical productions. They learn to identify, design, and build sets and how to design two- and three-dimensional scenery pieces with necessary tools. Recently, students completed complicated set pieces, including a pop-out Oz, a metal fountain sculpture of Pan, and a large Wizard Muppet.
- Stage Lighting Students are introduced to lighting techniques on sets for the performing arts, as well as for studio arts installations, school dances, and presentations. They learn to identify and hang lighting instruments, determine the correct wattage amounts per dimmer pack, and become proficient in both regular lighting techniques and "intelligent lights."
- Theater! Film! Photography! Students recreate famous paintings, stills, and iconic images, learning to work together as a team and in different roles of the photographer, director, actors/models, and set/costume designers.They rotate through these responsibilities, refining various skill sets in the creative process.
Each spring the school community comes together to produce a play. Open to everyone, all interested students find valuable roles as actors, musicians, set designers, and theater technicians. North Country School hosts three performances: one for students and staff, one for the public, and one for parents the night before graduation.
For many students, the play is a much-anticipated opportunity to be part of a musical production when they can employ the techniques they have been practicing in performing arts and dance classes. For others, the play presents an opportunity to compose and perform original music. For students not fully comfortable in the spotlight, the play is a time when hours can be devoted to perfecting two- and three-dimensional scenery, lighting and sound.
Recent plays, all featuring worlds of fantasy and student-adapted scripts, include: As You Like It, The Phantom Tollbooth, Spamalot, The Swiss Family Robinson; Wicked; Wonderland; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and James and the Giant Peach.
Each fall, students are invited to participate in a workshop production that is then showcased during Thanksgiving (which is also Parents' Weekend). Fall workshop is a great opportunity for students to share the talents they hone in fall arts electives. Our annual spring production is a decades-old tradition that involves a large percentage of the student body in some way. Those who choose not to sing, act, or dance can design original sets and costumes, perform instrumental music, or oversee lighting, sound and effects. Recent productions have featured spectacular worlds of fantasy with strong moral lessons, including: Wicked; Wonderland; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; James and the Giant Peach; and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The spring play has three evening performances: one for students and staff, one for the public, and a finale for parents on graduation weekend.