Theatre is thriving at Fieldston Middle this year, with multiple in-person performances having already taken place and plans for spring productions underway. In November, 6th Graders performed the play “Myth Adventures,” which was the first production held on the Auditorium stage since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. So many students signed up to perform — 32 in total — that the School requested that the playwright rework the original script to incorporate more roles. After so many months of virtual rehearsals and performances, the event felt triumphant and emotional; the Fieldston Middle community cherished the energy of live theatre on the Fieldston campus.
“During the virtual rehearsals we were so happy to just be together, but it wasn’t the same,” says Stephanie Stone, Fieldston Middle Theatre Teacher. “Being back in a room together — and having a shared experience of joy — is irreplaceable.”
Each fall, 7th and 8th Graders have the opportunity to participate in Drama Workshop. Starting in September, students meet weekly after school, culminating in a special performance in the Alex Cohen Theater.
This year, 11 students signed up for the program. Led by Stone, the students spent the first few sessions reading through several plays and discussing the challenges and intricacies of each. The students then voted on which play they wanted to perform — a level of autonomy that Stone says is unique to the Fieldston Middle program.
The students selected “House of Cards,” written by multiple playwrights and created by Stephen Gundersheim. The play tells the story of a group of high school students whose social status is marked by the card they are assigned. “It’s the card that you’re dealt, literally,” explains Stone. The play explores themes of peer pressure, stereotypes, and bullying. Each actor in the Fieldston Middle production played two characters — one from the higher suite of cards and one from the lower — to experience playing two contrasting characters.
The 7th and 8th Graders performed “House of Cards” in January, capping a fall season filled with impressive and innovative in-person performances at Fieldston Middle. “We are very grateful for the resources we have and the experiences we can give the students this year,” says Stone.
Both the 6th Grade Drama and the 7th and 8th Grade Drama Workshop are great opportunities for students who want to dig deep into the study of drama before entering Fieldston Upper, where students can choose to major in Theatre and Dance. Stone also finds that studying theatre in middle school is not only a lot of fun for the students, but can also have a significant impact on their lives. “They grow into themselves,” she says. “Theatre is a way for them to discover things about themselves and the world.”
After a year spent rehearsing and performing over Google Meet, Stone, along with her actors, were grateful for the opportunity to gather and perform together, in person. “Just being in rehearsal together on stage in the same room, laughing, playing, and then getting down to business — that is so important,” says Stone. One lesson she takes away from the pandemic is to cherish the moments she has with her students, and to always be present. “I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I’m so grateful to be here. Who cares if someone misses a line or makes a mistake — we are here!”
With the fall productions complete, Fieldston Middle students are already busy preparing for the spring. The 7th and 8th Grade Musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” will be performed in April, and rehearsals begin soon.