Curriculum Spotlight: 8th Grade Drama

By Lisa Byrne, Drama 3-8

A little nervous but ready for the challenge, the Class of 2016 stood up before their peers and a panel of judges for the 8th grade play final auditions last week. By eighth grade, Mayfield students have a solid foundation in theatre arts and are able to put their skills to use in the production of a full-scale musical. With an expectation of enthusiasm and professionalism, the audition process included a vocal audition, with a short song performed a cappella, a dance audition, with a short routine performed in small groups and an acting audition, in which students were asked to prepare a short monologue in the style of character they liked.

After the show is cast, the ensemble works with professional directors, choreographers, and designers to bring the show to life. Through this process, the students learn the importance of teamwork, individual responsibility, and self-confidence. Research and dramaturgy begins in December; rehearsals begin in January 2016.

This year, our 8th grade production is The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. The show features classic funk tunes, like "Ease on Down the Road."

As the class of 2016 journeys down the yellow brick road this year, there are multiple opportunities to weave elements of the eighth grade social justice service-learning curriculum into the drama curriculum. After our school-wide performance in April, it is my hope that we can take a modified version of The Wiz on tour to local schools, Reach Out partner locations, and other public venues throughout the Los Angeles area. To build on this structure, and provide more opportunities for social justice, I hope to have a talkback session and/or interactive applied drama workshop with each audience in order for our students to better understand the community they live in and inspire them to be activists throughout their lives.

The Wiz will run Friday, April 15-Sunday, April 17, 2016 in the Hayden Family Performing Arts Center.

Mayfield Junior School

Located in Pasadena, California, Mayfield Junior School of the Holy Child Jesus is a K-8 Catholic coeducational private school. Our kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school experience best prepares students for high school education and beyond.