Theatrical expression is a powerful way to encourage students to learn to trust their creative instincts and encourage those of others. The process of creating a stage performance with a group provides a tremendous bonding experience with peers as well as building confidence and strengthening performance skills. Perhaps most importantly, creating, performing and experiencing theatre strengthens our sense of empathy and reminds us of what unites us all as human beings.
Our approach to the performing arts builds on students’ natural inclination to improvise and to express what they are learning about themselves and the world around them. Improvisational exercises are at the core of the theatrical experience at CDS. From Pre-K/12, students may explore their creativity as well as develop skills in observation, attention, imagination, dramatic expression, emotional awareness, and narrative interpretation.
Lower School has a tradition of providing a total arts experience for our children with a teacher-produced musical each fall, involving 90-100 students in grades 3-5 each year, either on stage on as part of the tech crew. All grades provide opportunities throughout the year for students to give presentations and to speak in front of their classmates and their parents. With activities such as the first grade's "Year in Song" performance or the fifth graders' presentations at their Renaissance Art Gallery, students in each grade strengthen their public speaking abilities and their confidence with each new year.
Middle School presents a concert every winter, giving students the chance to build skills and experience performing on stage or contribute as members of the technical crew. Whether on stage or in the tech crew, Middle School students learn teamwork, leadership, flexibility, and how to manage deadlines.
The Upper School theatre program offers opportunities for students to develop skills in all aspects of theatre. Each fall the one-act class participates in the North Carolina Theatre Conference’s Annual One-Act Festival with a work developed and rehearsed in class. In the spring, class topics include stage combat, playwriting, design, and technical theatre. In addition to theatre classes, students may participate in the major production mounted in March (rehearsals are after school). Students are challenged to undertake roles of increasing complexity and responsibility compatible with individual experience, ability, and interest. They may perform, choreograph, design, or serve as crew chiefs. The entire Upper School theatre program draws heavily on Viewpoints training, which fosters deep collaboration, discipline, and individual creativity.