Upper School Fine & Performing Arts
Welcome to Fine & Performing Arts 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 a cappella 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 comedy, a winter musical, and a spring drama production. These productions involve a large number of students.
The Upper School Theatre Season is so unique in many ways. First, it is year-round for both cast and crew. Second, we give the experience of 4 different kinds of theaters, 4 different genres, a NYC credit, as well as the experience of working with an outside professional.
We begin our season with “Arts Under the Stars” - a night of performances in our outdoor amphitheater. Whether it is Shakespeare, original work from our playwriting program, or fantastic quick-paced ten minute plays, it is a wonderful night of theatre.
The fall production is always a comedy in our blackbox theatre, which usually plays to a sold-out five performance run.
The winter production is a musical in our 500-seat proscenium theatre, complete with fabulous costumes, sets, and extraordinary talent. Recent productions have included Grease, Hairspray, Shrek, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Guys & Dolls, Into the Woods, and Annie.
The spring production takes us back to our blackbox theatre for a classic drama, which again usually plays to a sold-out five performance run. The spring drama is part of our Guest Director Series, where the students are directed by a professional brought in for this production. It is a new director each season so over a student’s four years they can make 4 great professional connections.
Our season concludes with our NYC Experience. An MKA alum is a flourishing playwright who takes one of his original pieces to a NYC Summer Theatre Festival each year, with our MKA students in both the cast and crew.
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.
Playwriting - This series is offered as a one-semester course that meets one evening per week in our spring semester. Students are taught the basics of playwriting in Level One, where by the end they finish with a wonderful portfolio of original work of varying lengths. There is also a Level Two course, where by the end students finish with a full play. These courses are taught by an outside playwright, helping students achieve a real-world feel and make a great professional connection.
Filmmaking - This series is offered as a full-year course that meets one evening per week. Taught by an Oscar-nominated producer whose company is based in NYC, students spend the first half of the year learning the basics of filmmaking. The second half of the year is dedicated toward each student creating his or her own short film. Students are instructed by many current working professionals throughout the year, helping them achieve a real-world feel, as well as making great professional connections.
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 three levels of sculpture and 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, and/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.