DRAMA at PS 295
Ms. Cat, Drama Teacher

The PS 295 Drama program is designed to educate students about fundamental and unique aspects of theater, exploring both process and performance. Here are some of the ways students have the opportunity to express themselves through the vehicle of theater: create characters, write and act out scenes with dialogue, improvisation, adapt fairytales, international folktales and fiction books into plays, create and explore storytelling through world puppetry.

Students work independently or together in small or large groups to discover new ideas, think critically and use their imagination in theater. All students learn basic acting techniques and theater terminology for their grade level. 1st-4th grade classes have a group sharing for parents (in the spring.) Each year, many fourth and fifth graders are involved in the school and community wide winter theatrical production.

Any current or former PS 295 families are invited to join the ps295drama Instagram account, where there are many photos showing the work of drama classes throughout the years. You must send a personal message to join with the name and class of your child. Alumni, you are welcome to send a message and join. Because this is a closed group, for privacy reasons, thank you for understanding only have current or former PS 295 families may join.

Warm-ups and improvisation for all grades: Each class begins with a physical drama warm-up where the students shake out and wake up their bodies. Each year all classes begin with introductory improvisation exercises. The drama curriculum scaffolds so that each year the students are building upon what they have learned in previous years.

Students enjoy music warm-ups where they move, dance and act out different children’s songs. Focus is a main goal. This is the first introduction to drama at PS 295 and the goals are for students to show and understand basic dynamics of entering onto a stage, stage presence and how a character moves and speaks dialogue.

Students build upon what they learned in PreK and further understand how stories can come to life by playing different characters and speaking dialogue. Students continue to work on focus. Fairytales, folktales and fiction books are split into scenes where each student gets an opportunity to act out a character and speak lines of dialogue. Students may create stick puppets of a character in a story. Throughout the year students enthusiastically engage in Drama Centers- age appropriate play stations where they can play in play-kitchens, puppets, city blocks, mini animals, and finger puppets. Drama Centers allow students naturally to use the fundamentals of theater play-based activities.

1st grade
Students continue to develop acting and dialogue in more advanced books, fairytales and world folktales. They build upon what they have learned in Kindergarten and know how to create their own line of dialogue for a character while acting it out on the drama stage. The storytelling unit is expanded through a final project where students share their own personal stories with stick puppets on their hand-made miniature puppet stages.

2nd grade
Students further unfold their character and dialogue work and begin more in depth Scene Study—based on a fiction or a fairy tale book [usually James Marshall’s Red Riding Hood] where they write their own dialogue, culminating in a class play, with some costumes and props, that is shared to parents. Time permitting, students in each scene may build toy box theater sets for their student written plays.

3rd grade
Students are ready to increase their playwriting skills and in small groups they write scenes and put together a student written play based on an ancient Aztec folktale, Musicians of the Sun – also culminating in a class play that is shared to parents. The students may explore the style of creating Bunraku puppets to act out these student written plays.

4th grade
Students do extensive improvisation work and begin Scene Study–“Who, What, Where” partner created scenes. Students also create their own silent improvised moments from their lives. Interested students are eligible to audition for the Dance Club in the winter theatrical production. Students have enjoyed creating their own commercial inventions with a partner, and some have recorded their commercials on video for class presentation and parent sharing.

5th grade
Students amplify advanced improvisation and continue Scene Study work–“Who, What, Where” partner created improvisation scenes with written dialogue. All interested students are eligible to audition for the popular winter theatrical production. There is also an opportunity for interested students to join the backstage Crew. For those students not involved in the winter production, everyone gets an opportunity to be cast and act in a classroom play.

At the end of the year, all 1st, 2nd, 3th and 4th grade parents are invited to see a sharing of their child’s drama class work. These are informal presentations showing some of the material that each class is working on. The parents and students find this very rewarding to share their creations. For any parent who is unable to attend the sharing, the students are able to take their work home to show their parent.

Winter Theatrical Production:
In January, to great success, many 4th and 5th graders perform in the school play. There is a 4th grade Dance Club (by audition) and a 5th grade Cast (by audition) and Crew. Photos of many of the productions can be seen on the website.

Previous productions:
The Wizard of Oz- 2010
Peter Pan- 2011
Charlotte’s Web- 2012
The Emperor’s New Clothes- 2013
McQuadle a Dragon’s Tale- 2014
The Princess King- 2015
Gretchen and the Grudge- 2016
Little Red Robin Hood- 2017

How can parents get involved?
The drama program is always open to new and returning parent volunteers! Every year, we have had many dedicated parents return year after year to be involved in the winter theatrical production. Each year we also need new parents to join as other parents graduate. Starting in September, help is needed for the winter theatrical production. At the start of the school year, the biggest immediate needed role is the Parent Drama Liaison. We also need many parent volunteers to help with set painting, costume design and set/prop design. For the performance dates, we need many volunteers to help backstage, with tickets and supervising the Dance Club. We welcome all parent volunteers!