A duo debut for all-school and middle school plays

Middle Schoolers practice for their play, Mr. Burns. Photo by Natalie ’16

This year, in order to promote greater participation by Middle School students in theatre, the Performing Arts Department has moved the Middle School Play to the fall semester. In a decision made last March, Middle School students now have the opportunity to act in a production that is not as intimidating as the All-School Play, also presented in the fall, and there will be new opportunities for arts activities in the spring. This move is an effort to encourage new Middle School students to participate and continue in theater programs.

In the past, the only option in the fall for Middle School students interested in acting was the All-School Play, but having the Middle School Play in the spring posed problems which members of the Performing Arts Department hoped to fix.

Performing Arts Department Head Anne Scarbrough and drama instructor Gleason Bauer point out that parents and students in the Marlborough community felt that the spring was too already too busy for the Middle School Play. This feedback from families of students, who wanted to participate but felt overwhelmed, was an important factor in the decision to perform the play in the fall.

In addition, the Performing Arts Department will also be able to have workshops in the spring that they haven’t had time to do in the past.

“We have been interested for a long time in trying to provide various workshops that address some of the interests of the girls – some of the things that we just simply had not had time to get to in our classes because of production work.” Bauer said.

The plan is to have a series of workshops that will include a musical theatre workshop in addition to audition workshops for performing artists about how to prepare for college auditions and auditions, in general.

Scarbrough and Bauer also wanted to offer younger students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Marlborough theater program in a less intimidating environment.

“We thought we might actually want to offer something for the younger students, who are coming to the school new, right in the get-go, that doesn’t feel like it’s maybe so intimidating as auditioning with a senior as your scene partner [for the All-School Play],” Bauer said.

Georgia Rock ’15 agrees that Middle School students can now have a less stressful introduction to drama..

“I do think it’s a good idea in that the middle schoolers can have a comfortable place to start Marlborough, especially the seventh graders and new ninth graders, because I was in the All School Play when I was in 7th Grade, and it was very scary. Though I learned a lot from the experience, I want the theatre program to grow, and I see that if the younger girls can have a comfortable environment when they enter, they might continue with theater more,” Rock said..

Having a Middle School production in the fall is not actually a new direction. There used to be a 7th Grade Play that would occur in the fall alongside the All-School Play, and Scarbrough pointed out that more girls participated in drama at that time. When the 7th Grade Play was cut, Middle School students who wanted to participate in drama either had to audition for the more intensive All-School Play or wait until the spring semester to audition for the Middle School Play.

“We observed that when our [theatre] program was the healthiest and most diverse was when we were doing that 7th Grade piece right at the top of the year.  Were we losing [after the 7th Grade play was cut] some of those girls by the time spring rolled around because they already kind of found their tribe?” Scarbrough said.