Many Northwest students have grown up reading or watching Charlotte’s Web. This year, the middle school Advanced Theater class took on the task of transforming this classic story into a theater production. Directed by Northwest theater and film teacher, Sara Venable, Charlotte’s Web tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider. As said in the program, “We decided these words [the play] capture what we feel the world, and more specifically our community, needs right now. We hope you leave the theatre feeling a praise for life and thinking about how you, just like Charlotte, can be a true and loyal friend.”
This performance is the latest in the annual full length shows put on by the middle school Advanced Theater class. Historically, this class has been the height of middle school theater, every year culminating in one full length show for the entire school to enjoy. This production acts as an occasion for seventh and eighth graders alike to refine their acting skills and get a chance to learn the processes involved in a full-length play. Sara reflected on this tradition, saying how the students “really committed to their roles, finding humor as well as touching sadness. They brought their own personal choices to the roles. They did an amazing job and I was so proud of their hard work.”
The challenges these young actors faced in constructing the play wasn’t limited to merely their acting responsibilities; they were faced with the constraints of class periods and other daily commitments. Elliot C., who played Mr. Arable in Charlotte’s Web, said: “It was hard for us to really get the full flow of the show with it being confined to just one class period.” Unlike Upper School theater classes where practices can be held after school, middle school theater classes are confined to their delegated 80 minute class period.
In years past, the middle school advanced theater program has done short films and scenes to round out their year. Elliott C., however, reports that “we have been doing a bunch of improv games, but hopefully we will start preparing for another play!” In the future, there are hopes of expanding not only the Advanced Theater class but also the middle school theater department as a whole. Sara noted, “I’d love to see Advanced Theatre turn into an intensive class where students can do a deep dive into developing their skills and that the play is an after-school activity open to all middle school students – not just those enrolled in the class. I think that would be a lot of fun.”