Category Archives: Drama

Hamlin Excels at Theater Festival Competition

On February 16, our seventeen Hamlin thespians excelled at an incredibly challenging theater festival. We competing with 257 students (Grades 6-8) from 22 different middle schools from all over California at the Middle School Stage Fest in Pleasant Hill, earning 5 gold medals, 4 silver medals, 5 bronze medals, and 18 Bravissimo Awards for Excellence in Theatre Artistry. The adjudicators assessed our monologues, scenes, musical solos, and musical duets.

The CETA Middle Stage Fest, now in its eighteenth year, is an exciting event for middle school drama students. At the festival, students perform monologues, scenes, and musical theatre numbers for panels of adjudicators and compete to earn bronze, silver and gold medals. In addition, while judges are tabulating the scores, students get to participate in high-energy theatre games. Unlike involvement in sports, it is rare for theatre students to have the opportunity to meet peers from other schools, share their passion, showcase their talent, and learn from one another. This festival brings together hundreds of students to do just that. All participating students qualify to attend CA YOUTH IN THEATRE DAY, where they meet and perform with other award-winning students from throughout the state.

To learn more, please visit: http://cetoweb.org/ceta/ceta-middle-stage-fest/

Interview with Theater Teacher: Heidi Abbott

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Abbott and learn more about her wonderful life in theater. Ms. Abbott has been teaching at Hamlin for 18 years. During that time she has directed roughly 126 plays.

What is your background with theater/performing arts?

I tried to do theater in high school and college, but I was kind of a repressed theater geek. I went to college (at Middlebury) and majored in English. I then went on to teach English and coach sports for 9 years at different private schools in the Midwest and East Coast. When I was 28 years old I started to question whether I was doing what I truly loved. I was cast in a summer theater play (Mother of Us All by Gertrude Stein) and that experience helped convert me to theater. I had a Master’s in English (also from Middlebury), but took a huge risk, quit my job, sold my horse (I had been a competitive rider) and went to New York City to train at the New Actors Workshop. I loved embodying language, expressing possibilities as I demonstrated compassion and empathy for the characters that I played. There is just so much personal and emotional growth that goes into portraying a character in a play.

What is your favorite role as an actor?

I loved playing Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. I learned how to deeply empathize with her difficult circumstances. She’s a broken person who I profoundly cared for.

What do you like most about working with Hamlin theater students?

I love seeing students build their confidence and take risks. They are great raw material for theater. They are willing to publicly speak and be on stage. I admire their courage, and love their excitement to try new things.

What is a favorite play of yours and one that you loved doing at Hamlin?

One of my favorite plays is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; I saw it both on Broadway and in San Francisco. I directed The Curious Savage at Hamlin twice; it is one of my favorites. The play questions what it means to be normal and what it means to be an individual.

Who are some of your favorite actors?

Meryl Streep is such a classic actor. Emma Stone is insanely talented. I also really like Bradley Cooper.

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your theater work?

Mindfulness is at the foundation of our theater work. You have to be able to pay attention to everything that is happening right now. The breath is an anchor for mindfulness and for an actor it is a vehicle for everything you need to do. We start every class with mindful breathing. Practicing mindfulness can be the difference between being a good actor, or being a great one.

Middle School Performs Arabian Nights

Our Grade 7 & 8 Theater Elective class has worked hard on their production of Arabian Nights, a stage re-enactment of Scheherazade’s 1,001 nightly tales. Students watched the show on Thursday and parents can see it tonight, January 25 at 7 p.m..

Arabian Nights is the legend of the greatest storyteller in the ancient Arabic world, Scheherazade, who uses her tale-spinning talents to save her people from their angry Persian king. Betrayed by his wife, the broken-hearted King Shahryar decides to punish all the women in his kingdom. Armed with only her wit and her imagination, Scheherazade heroically steps in to enchant the king with stories for 1001 nights and to turn his hatred back into love.

Scheherazade’s stories are based on a collection of folk tales written during the Islamic Golden Age (between 700’s and 1300’s). These stories trace back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian literature.

Hamlin Performs: “Little Women”

The Middle School ASA theater class performed a holiday scene from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The scene is set a few days before Christmas in 1861. It starts with the four March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) missing their father, who is away fighting in the American Civil War and will not be home for Christmas. The family is tight on money without their father’s income, so the sisters are worried that their Christmas will not be a good one. Later some beggar children show up and help them remember the true meaning of the holidays.

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books over several months at the request of her publisher. Following the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—the novel details their passage from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

Hamlin Presents: “The Girl Who Cried Wolf”

On December 17, students in Grades 3 and 4 performed the play, The Girl Who Cried Wolf.

In this one-act stage adaptation of Aesop’s fable, a girl chooses ill-gotten thrills over responsibility to her family. 

The play dealt with many important social-emotional learning themes like peer pressure, lying, and integrity in a fun and humorous way with talking sheep and wolves. The entertaining production also provided an opportunity for students to explore aspects of our creed, with a focus on Honesty, Responsibility, and Respect.

For more information about the play, please visit: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=BOYWHOCRIE

 

Grade 3 Students Perform “Cero” in Spanish

Members of Grade 3 recently performed in the play Cero. The performance was lauded by both parents and faculty members alike.

From Cero’s program:

This Third Grade Spanish play is the result of a collaborative and interdisciplinary project combining theater arts and Spanish. Students have worked on key elements of acting and staging during the rehearsal process. At the same time, the girls have been developing their fluency while using many new Spanish words and phrases within the context of telling a story. 

In addition to developing students’ language and acting skills, we hope that this project has enhanced the girls’ range of self-expression, confidence, and enjoyment of both Spanish and theater. 

Synopsis:

Cero is a big, round number… but she feels empty on the inside. As Cero watches the other numbers count off, she wishes that she could count, too. But how can a number worth nothing count for something? 

No matter how much Cero tries to change her shape, she realizes that she will always be a zero.

Will Cero learn that everyone has value, no matter their shape or size?

Hamlin Kindergarteners Visit the Curran Theatre

This week a class of Hamlin kindergarteners had the opportunity to visit the Curran Theatre. Earlier in the year some of our students watched a performance of the musical Bright Star at the theatre. On another occasion many of our girls sang at the theatre as part of the new season launch. We are very excited about this vibrant and ongoing partnership with the Curran.

Built in 1922, the Curran has housed some of the biggest productions in theater history and has maintained a reputation over the course of its life as one of the premier live entertainment venues in North America. Now, almost a century after it welcomed its first Bay Area audiences, the Curran has just completed a major restoration and renovation. Under the curation of eight-time Tony Award-winner Carole Shorenstein Hays, the Curran reopened its 1,600 seat venue in January 2017 with the groundbreaking musical FUN HOME. Now, the Curran is offering our first ever subscription offering. #CURRAN2018 is a full season of jaw-dropping theater, entertainment and artistry that offers four new works by some of the world’s most celebrated theater artists and an eclectic line-up of special events.

Kindergarten teacher Ms. Phillips shares more about their visit:

The girls got the chance to sit in the balcony and learned about the history of the theatre and some fun facts- it opened in 1922 ​and the chandelier weighs as much as a car (over 4000 lbs) and can only be moved up and down by a hand crank! There is no play going on at the moment, so the stage was empty and the girls not only had the opportunity to explore the stage, but were also able to perform the plays they have been working on! After their quick performances, we got to go backstage and learn about how the scenes and different props are brought down and lifted up, and went into the “star” dressing room.

This was an amazing culminating field trip for our emergent unit on acting!

To learn more about the Curran Theatre, please visit: https://sfcurran.com/

Hamlin Thespians Thrive in State Competition

In February our 15 Team Hamlin thespians did us proud. Competing with almost 300 students (Grades 6-8) from 18 different Middle Schools from all over California at the Middle School Theater Festival in Pleasant Hill, California, our students earned 14 gold medals, 10 silver medals, and 4 bronze medals from the adjudicators for their monologues, scenes, musical solos, and musical duets.

The CETA Middle Stage Fest, now in its seventeenth year, is an exciting event for middle school drama students. At the festival, students perform monologues and scenes for panels of adjudicators and compete to earn bronze, silver and gold medals. In addition, while judges are tabulating the scores, students get to participate in high-energy theatre games. Unlike involvement in sports, it is rare for theatre students to have the opportunity to meet peers from other schools, share their passion, showcase their talent, and learn from one another. This festival brings together hundreds of students to do just that. All participating students qualify to attend CA YOUTH IN THEATRE DAY, where they meet and perform with other award-winning students from throughout the state.

Watch an award-winning monologue by Kennedy here:

To learn more, please visit: http://cetoweb.org/ceta/ceta-middle-stage-fest/

 

Hamlin Students See “Bright Star” at The Curran Theatre

On December 6, Hamlin girls from grade 7 visited the recently renovated Curran Theatre to watch the musical Bright Star. Students absolutely loved the performance and will have an opportunity to discuss both the story and narrative structure of the play in their English classes.

Directed by Tony® winner Walter Bobbie and inspired by a real event, this “downright wonderful” (Newsday) original musical tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ‘40s. The story unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion, beautiful melodies and powerfully moving performances. An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you tight in its grasp, BRIGHT STAR is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.

Propelled by an ensemble of onstage musicians and dancers, the entire show is framed around Carmen Cusack’s Alice Murphy, who is “nuanced and forceful, effortlessly eloquent both as the younger Alice and as her older, sterner iteration.”(The Guardian) Literary editor Alice develops a relationship with a young soldier just home from World War II, awakening her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past—and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives.

For more information about Bright Star at the Curran, please visit: https://sfcurran.com/shows/bright-star/

 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Visits Hamlin

Over recent summers our highly talented theater teacher, Heidi Abbott, has been taking students to see Shakespeare plays onstage in Ashland, Oregon. For the past three years Hamlin has also been hosting visiting actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival traces its roots back to the Chautauqua movement, which brought culture and entertainment to rural areas of the country in the late 19th century. Ashland’s first Chautauqua building—erected in 1893, mostly by townspeople—saw its first performance on July 5. In 1905, the building was enlarged to accommodate an audience of 1,500. Families traveled from all over Southern Oregon and Northern California to see such performers as John Phillip Sousa and William Jennings Bryan during the Ashland Chautauqua’s 10-day seasons.

The Oregon Shakespearean Festival was officially born on July 2, 1935 with a production of Twelfth Night. The Festival presented The Merchant of Venice on the 3rd and Twelfth Night again on the 4th. Reserved seats cost $1, with general admission of $.50 for adults and $.25 for children.

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