How drama effects the school culture

Theater/drama can effect the school and its students in many ways.


Photo by Lucy Bowles

Cast members on stage rehearsing the One-Act “Left Hanging”

Imagine you are sitting in a chair – it’s not the most comfortable, but it was probably made to be that way. Suddenly the lights go out, except for a few that are pointed at a stage. Your heart pounds with excitement as music begins to play and the curtains part, revealing an old brick building with teenagers leaning up against it, waiting, but for what? You do not know yet.  

That is theater/drama.  

The theater/drama program is one of the many classes a student can take at school. The program provides a safe place for students to spark creativity and bring students closer together. And just like sports programs, theater/drama gives students something to learn, something to do, something to talk about, something to be proud of, and an opportunity to create memories. 

Students of any kind can participate in the RHS drama program. This brings a richness to the development of our community. Students are able to create something on stage where there is no judgement, and no need for re-takes or makeups. Learning lines of dialogue and being able develop characters through interpretation can help students strengthen their commitment, creativity, and drive. These unique, one-of-a-kind opportunities can help solidify relationships across campus and throughout the student body. 

Typically, 20 to 40 students sign up or are assigned to the drama class, and none of them have ever regretted it. 

“In the decade that I have been a school director, I don’t think I have had one student say that they wished they ‘hadn’t’ done it,” drama director Lawrence E. Marcoe said.  

Stephen L. Pickard the band teacher concurs, by also stating, “The theater/drama program helps foster an energy and creativity through stage work, providing students with a chance to tackle different issues through acting and to work with all areas of the performing arts department through musical productions.” 

So many students sign up for the class, but how many put in their time and effort to create the magic of the school plays? Well if it is a straight play, a play without singing, then the cast will be between 8 to 20 students – or, cast members, as they are called. In addition to that, the crew and support staff make up another 10 to 15 students. For musicals, the number rises greatly to 30 to 40 cast members and the support crew can be up to 20. And if a pit orchestra is included, it can add about 12 to 24 more people. 

“One show the Rogers Ramily did a few years back ‘White Christmas’ involved about 10% of the Rogers student body. Which is amazing,” Marcoe said. 

It has been proven repeatedly that theater/drama affects school culture, but what are the effects? With every interview I had, I learned that there are many benefits of having a theater/drama program. One of the biggest benefits though are the incredible crossovers between band, choir, orchestra, and drama. Once a year, all of them work together to create a spectacular musical. This allows band, orchestra, and choir to shine in the spotlight just as much as the drama students. Another benefit is that drama allows students to explore different emotions and aspects of themselves that they may not have realized they had.  

In addition, outside of sports games, it is the one thing that students, teachers, and parents in our community will come to see. And teachers and staff being present to observe student productions is a critical part of supporting and building a trusting community at any school.  

We know it is impossible to go to every show that Rogers High School produces but if you can, as said above, it shows great support for the students and directors who have put in their time and energy into that production. 

But there are a few disadvantages. For the drama students working on a production, it takes a lot of their time and energy to make it perfect. Rehearsals last for about two to three hours. And with the crossovers it is incredibly challenging to line up all the elements of the production such as the lighting, microphones and sound, musical accuracy of the pit orchestra and singers, costume changes, quick transitions, set building, the list goes on but if everyone works hard and does their part, they will create something amazing. 

“Theater has helped me by introducing me to many of my friends and providing an escape from the stress of the world. It’s a wonderful place to go and just have fun with people you care about.” Tatum P. Snyder, a member of the Drama Board said. 

To those considering joining theater/drama the easiest way to get involved is by doing something tech related. Talk with someone who is involved with the lighting and/or sound. It doesn’t require an audition, it’s an easy way to be involved in a production, it takes up less of your time, and it gives you experience for the flow of a show before committing to an audition, if auditioning for a show is what you are aiming for. For that you need to have good memorization, commitment, time management, and the ability to hone your acting skills. The tech crew is still a part of theater, so it is a great way to get looped into the community. 

A healthy drama program provides students with career training and opportunities both in acting, music, as well as stage craft and backstage management. In the past, we have had dozens of students pursue careers in theater, some even making it all the way to Broadway in New York City, which is no easy feat! But theater is so much more than acting! There are many, many aspects of theater. You have acting, spotlight, sets, costumes, light board, sound board, directing, stage managing, backstage crew, hair, makeup, set building, ushers, and the pit (music). Not all of these are used for every production, but it’s a good baseline for the options. 

If you are now considering theater/drama some might say, 

DO IT!!!! Do it do it do it! Theater is my favorite thing I’ve ever done, and has brought me to most of my closest friends. It creates such a wonderful community, and the shows are so incredibly fun.” Snyder said. 

As well as, 

“I would say go for it. If you are able to commit, cause drama is a commitment, both to the show and to your cast mates and your crew members. If you have space to commit wholeheartedly to something bigger than yourself, like a production, I do not see true downside or a reason why not to do it.” Samantha I. Greenfield, another member of the Drama Board said.