Students who participate in The Frederick Gunn School Theatre Program engage in the Performing Arts with creative and open processes to put together a final production that demonstrates their collective work.
The Frederick Gunn School has a long and established theatrical history. Students staged the first play in 1850, and at least one play has been performed annually ever since. The theatre program, which marked its 150th anniversary in 2019, currently presents two productions a year: a play in the fall and a musical in the winter. Students act, sing, dance, build sets, serve as costumers, choreographers, musicians, lighting and sound technicians, and help manage the production. Auditions are open to all students. Rehearsals are held in the afternoons and students participate as part of the co-curricular program in the fall and winter terms.
Recent productions include the Connecticut Premiere of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, adapted by Dwayne Hartford based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, book by Rachel Sheinkin and score by William Finn. Both were directed by Kent Burnham, Director of Theatre Arts.
ACTING I - THE ACTING PROCESS
This active and exploratory, year-long, acting
course introduces students to the essential tasks
of the actor’s imagination and technique through
individual and ensemble work. Students develop
vocal, physical, and emotional techniques and
engage in exercises that enhance creativity,
characterization skills, and empathy. They apply
this work to improvisations, monologues, scenes,
text analysis, and physical storytelling. Students
will gain a well-rounded understanding of acting,
theatre, plays, auditioning, and theatre-making. No
previous acting experience is necessary
COMBAT FOR STAGE AND SCREEN
Stage combat is the illusion of violence for the
stage or screen. This class will explore stage
combat moves. Classwork is active, engaging,
and movement-based. Students will learn and
develop safe and dramatically effective techniques
of choreographed violence, along with pieces
rooted in movement and storytelling. The course
provides an opportunity to use the whole self: body,
imagination, intellect, voice, and spirit. Students
will be introduced to safe and compelling portrayals
of violence for the stage and camera. The class
focuses on training and practicing unarmed and
sword and dagger stage combat skills.
This course is a laboratory for students to develop
and explore their unique voice and vision and a
chance to explore a variety of approaches to manifesting that vision theatrically. It is a foundational
course designed to introduce young writers to the
distinctive demands of this genre, with emphasis
on character and plot development through conflict
and dialogue. Students will write extensively,
workshop their original stories, and learn rewriting
techniques. The term will culminate in a staged
reading or production of the short plays presented
to the FGS community.
ADVANCED ACTING - FGS THEATRE COMPANY
This year-long course continues the training of the
student-actor with a focus on scene work, script
analysis, devised material, voice, and movement.
It allows students to develop an approach to
character, text, and story beyond their own culture
and experience. Exercises build on Acting I and
encourage in-depth interpretation and character
choices. Vocal and physical training focuses on
developing techniques to explore heightened
theatre material. Students develop and workshop
various pieces of work to be presented to The
Frederick Gunn School community.
IMPROVISATION AND THEATRE GAMES
This introductory course will explore the elements
of improvisation with a focus on spontaneity,
flexibility, and fun. Improvisation is for everyone.
Life is made up as it happens, and improv is no
different. The aim of this course is for students to
heighten their observation and listening skills, and
ensemble-building through various theatre games
and exercises. Explore foundational improv tools
to understand the principles of how improv works.
Experience firsthand why improvisation is a way to
discover more freedom, confidence, and positivity.
2021 Halo Awards
The cast and crew of "Almost, Maine," a romantic comedy written by John Cariani, were back on stage in the Tisch Family Auditorium on January. 27, 2022, to receive their 2021 Halo Award certificates. Students received a total of seven nominations and three awards for the spring production. Awards went to: Emma Smith ’22 and Quentin Sheers ’22 for Best Performance by a Couple or Dynamic Duo in a Play, Lucy Sanchez ’23 for Best Costume Design/Execution, and Acadia Johnson ’21 for stage management that went "Above and Beyond." The certificates were presented by Sarah Archer, Assistant to the FGS Theatre Program, who produced and directed the show.