Upper School Fine & Performing Arts
Welcome to the Fine & Performing Art at the MKA Upper School - We hope that you will attend some of our upcoming events this year.
Upper School students have a variety of options for courses in the performing arts. Each music class offers the opportunity for public performances several times a year; these may be concerts held at school or performances in the community. Music classes include Concert Band, String Orchestra, Concert Choir and Upper School Chamber Singers, as well as offerings in music theory. A recently formed student acappella group is already meeting with competitive success, and in addition, students in Concert Band may audition to participate in Jazz Band which is a highlight of the music program at MKA. Whether or not they are a part of formal acting courses during the academic day, students have the opportunity to audition for an annual fall play, a winter musical and a spring production, which alternates between play and movie format. These productions involve a large number of students as well as cameo appearances from some faculty members.
The Upper School Fine and Performing Arts Department offers the opportunity to get involved in a black box production once each semester in the school year. Plays that cover many genres are offered as an alternative to the annual winter musical, and provide front and back stage opportunities for involvement. With an after-school production schedule of approximately six weeks, final performances take place in MKA's Deetjen Theatre.
Backstage, students can work on set construction, scenic painting, props, costume, lighting and sound, and over time, may be given the opportunity to design. Even students with other after-school commitments can get involved by helping out as ushers, box office staff or part of the business crew.
Every other year, the Spring Play is replaced with a short form video which provides students with the opportunity to work from a professionally written script with limited professional supervision and actors. Since its inception in 1993, MKA has produced nine spring movies and four additional shorts that have won over 50 national awards in a variety of categories, including production, writing, direction, editing, art direction and graphic design. In addition to the Aegis, TELLY, Davey, MarCom, Communicator and Videographer Awards, several of the movies have been recognized at The Columbus Film and Video Festival.
In addition, every September MKA theatre participants past and present are welcomed back to a new school year with an opening Arts Under the Stars production in our new amphitheater.
The tradition of the MKA Winter Musical goes back over thirty years, actually pre-dating the merger of Montclair Academy and The Kimberley School. The Weiss Arts Center was opened at Montclair Academy in the fall of 1969 and the following March, You Can't Take It With You was presented as a joint effort between The Kimberley School and Montclair Academy. Two years later, thwarted in an attempt to perform The Crucible, the directors decided it was time to try a musical. They selected the Weill and Gershwin classic, Lady in the Dark. The following year, The Crucible was performed, but the annual production returned to the musical genre in 1974 when the two schools mounted South Pacific. The cast used the profits of that production to buy a piano for use in future musicals, and a tradition of using profits from the musical to buy equipment for Weiss was born. Over the years, other purchases included a scrim, a cyclorama, traveler curtains, and much lighting equipment. From these modest beginnings, the Winter Musical has grown into MKA's largest annual theatrical production with spectacular scenery and costumes, a large pit band and a dedicated cast and crew of students from all grades at the Upper School.
Recent productions have included Caberet, Urinetown, Once Upon a Mattress, The Drowsy Chaperone and Grease.
At the Upper School, students continue to pursue their interest in the fine arts as they select from a wide variety of elective courses. The disciplines within the fine arts teach students to develop, express and evaluate ideas; think critically and imaginatively in problem solving; produce and interpret images and creative work; understand the artistic achievements of others; and develop self-discipline and focus. Fine arts offerings allow students to experiment with the fundamentals of art and studio art as well as to explore two levels of sculpture and several different photography courses, including traditional and digital. Students interested in developing their skills and their portfolios to pursue art in college are encouraged to take Studio Art Honors, or Advanced Placement Studio Art. Students often exhibit their works in the halls at the Upper School and invite a wider audience to their gallery openings.