The Theatre and Drama program at Covenant introduces students to one of the earliest expressions of western thought and cultural activity: the tradition of dramatic literature and theatrical performance. Tales of epic adventure and the practice of storytelling punctuate the historical past. Which of us do not enjoy a great story?
Students at Covenant experience how stories are told and re-told through the lyrical splendor of dramatic verse, dialogue and action. In the context of a classical approach to education, the program seeks to engage and delight students of all ages with the rhetorical beauty of great dramatic literature; it also strives to give the students an understanding of both the historical and cultural contexts of these narratives, and how the dramatic arts have informed western thought and literature over time.
The program at Covenant equips students to ask meaningful questions of the dramatic text and performance event. When and under what circumstances were these plays written and produced? Which prevailing ideas and historical events inform the content of the literature? How are these texts in dialogue with their cultural moment? Students are also asked to think about the conditions of performance. For example, how was Aeschylus’s Agamemnon produced during the 5th century BC? How does the spectacle and stage-craft of the ancient Greeks impact the meaning of the dramatic verse? Upper school students are challenged to consider the complexity of theatre history and the production of accurate historical evidence. Finally, the students are asked to view the performance event as a way of reading and interpreting the historical past.
There is also a vital practical component to the Theatre and Drama program at Covenant. During the school year there are productions by the Upper School and Grammar School, with scripts written or selected to complement the historical and literary material the students are studying in their core studies. Particular emphasis is placed on the students’ verbal expression. Students are trained to properly use their voices and bodies on stage, simultaneously equipping them for successful public speaking. As the program develops, students will be given the opportunity to try their hands at script writing and adapting prose for the stage.