Theatre is one of the most well known, popular, and largest emphases at OSA. As well as having many famous alumni, including Zendaya, it has been here since OSA’s beginning, in 2002. But not much is known about what goes on in the emphasis itself. -Declan McMahon
Theatre is one of the most well known, popular, and largest emphases at OSA. As well as having many famous alumni, including Zendaya, it has been here since OSA’s beginning, in 2002. But not much is known about what goes on in the emphasis itself. I sat down with a Eliza Ayres, a sixth grade Theatre student, and Matthew Travisano, the chair of the department, to bring you the answers to some questions you may have been asking.
I asked Eliza to run me through a day in the emphasis. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they take their elective, which is either working on the current Theatre production, Theatre dance, or playwriting. I guess Theatre dance is unpopular with this batch of sixth graders, as there is only one sixth grader in it!
The Theatre emphasis switched to this setup of three electives and three high school majors (Acting Theory, Musical Theatre, and Playwriting & Play Development), when Mr. Travisano became Department Chair in February of 2016. He also started incoorparating Theatre styles from all over the globe, working with Latinx, and this year, Japanese Theatre techniques, with an aim to make Theatre not so Eurocentric.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Theatre students go to Sweet’s and do warmups, such as tongue twisters, projection exercises, a Theatre game called Ghost, and sometimes meditation. Then they will work on whatever they are doing at the time, memorizing monologues, practicing for shows and more.
Now, the shows. The Theatre emphasis puts on a number of productions each year. Some are written by the high school students, some not--but all have a very competitive audition process. Some plays have only high schoolers, some have high schoolers and middle schoolers--and once each year, there is a middle-school only play. This year it is Eurydice. And even that audition process is completitive for sixth graders, seeing as they’re like the freshmen of middle school. Out of Eurydice’s two casts, only two sixth graders got a part.
Mr. Travisano says the audition proccess for a production can range from as simple as a monologue, to a callback, to ensemble and motion building when there isn’t yet any script. Callbacks are when everybody who wants to audition auditions, and they pick people who they like the most to come back and do it again.
As a whole, the Theatre Department is working towards making theatre relevant to the students and the current generation in the bay area. Part of this is rewriting old, even ancient, plays to be relevant to Oakland in 2018. They are also aiming to make Theatre at OSA less Eurocentric. They are doing that by incoorporating Latinx and Ancient Japanese style theatre into the emphasis.