The Pulaski Academy Theatre Department offers classes in the performing arts to fifth through twelfth grade students. The study of theatre benefits students well beyond the visible exploration of character on stage. Theatre teaches important life skills such as confidence, public speaking, problem solving, teamwork, time management, improvisation, and respect for various art forms. Theatre, of course, also engages and enhances students’ imagination and creativity.
Students are offered performing arts as an elective starting in the fifth grade where they receive an overview of theatre as an art form, performance basics, an introduction to playwriting, and costume and makeup design. Students can continue studying theatre throughout middle school with sixth grade performing arts and a combined seventh and eighth grade performing arts class. Each class offers an increased level of study based on grade level.
Moving into upper school, students are offered three classes to hone their theatre skills: Survey of Theatre, Methods of Acting and Directing, and Scene Study. Survey of Theatre provides an important walk through theatre history with acting, playwriting, and design projects based on various eras. Students receive an in-depth study of Greek and Roman theatre, medieval theatre, Elizabethan England and Shakespearean theatre, French Restoration, Commedia dell’arte, Victorian Melodrama, Modern Realism, and Musical Theatre.
Methods of Acting and Directing provides students a more specific study of acting and directing. Students learn to implement the great acting and movement theories of Konstantin Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen and Rudolf Laban. Students also learn audition preparation for local, professional and college audition settings. Acting study transitions into directing study as students learn to develop their directing voice and vision. Directing students select cast and rehearse a one-act play for public showcase. Directing their peers in a theatrical production teaches them leadership and how to communicate and display their artistic vision. Directing students also learn set, lights, sound, costume and makeup design techniques to effectuate their productions.
Advanced acting and directing students who have already taken the aforementioned classes may take Scene Study in their junior or senior year. Scene Study is a rehearsal-based class meant to expand students’ knowledge of dramatic literature and refine their skills. As they trade roles of actor and director, students in this class work on multiple scenes from various eras in theatre history simultaneously.
In addition to class offerings, the PA Theatre Department produces three full-length productions a year: the fall play, spring musical, and middle school musical. The Theatre Department also participates in the Fine Arts holiday production, Frosty Follies. PA Theatre is a member of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and the International Thespian Society and competes in the annual Arkansas Thespians competition.