Collaboration is Necessary in Theater

Photo by Helena Yang

A group of actresses prepare for their The Love of Three Oranges rehearsal.

Art is made with a purpose. Each and every piece is crafted to perfection and presented with an intent. Of course, not everyone would describe one piece of art as perfect. This is the purpose for art: It is interpretational and pertinent to our world.

Ever since the time of the Greeks, art has been made to add social commentary, enrichment, and fulfillment. Here at Choate, the theater program prides itself on its inclusion and ability to bring life to stories. In my first year at Choate, the musical Pippin was an ensemble-based show that focused on togetherness, creativity, and expression. Being a part of the ensemble in Pippin was a pivotal moment in my life; before that show I had never felt accepted in any community before. My experience on the main stage of the PMAC has transformed over the past few years, and I find that my true solace lies in student theater.

That being said, there are moments when the productions we choose to put up for the community feel restricting. Mainstage theater productions need to make a profit in order to maintain the theater program. This often puts up barriers for both the students and staff alike. There is a need to cater to a certain community in terms of show choice, as the mainstage productions reflect onto the school and its beliefs whether people like it or not. That being said, mainstage productions can often be limiting.

This fall, while participating in the production of The Odyssey, the once colorful, energizing, and liberating black box felt like an imprisoning, empty, and dark room. I felt myself searching for more. I wanted to express myself, and I wanted to tell my story through my eyes — not another person’s.

Theater often has many freeing, uplifting, and enlightening effects on adolescents.  When you grant students autonomy on their creations, they fly. The entirety of Choate’s  student productions are free and open to anyone. The students are rarely limited on what they can perform. Most of these productions are student-written, student-directed, and student-performed.  The shows are crafted and performed in good taste. Students are granted the ability to expand their creativity and share their hearts and minds with the entire choate community. Student Directed Scenes, the Fringe Festival and One-person Plays allow students to achieve theater’s main purpose: enrichment. 

I can speak from experience from participating in both Student Directed Scenes and One-person Plays. There is no feeling as rewarding as writing and performing your own show. The feeling of giving students the gift of a theater filled with options is an all-encompassing one.

Collaboration is productive when it occurs in each and every stage of the process. All of Choate’s productions, both mainstage and student-produced, could be more successful if people listen and allow each other to collaborate more. After all, isn’t that what Choate is all about?

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