Theatre seeks to reel in upperclassmen with new course

The theatre department creates a new course intended for students with little to no experience.

Sophomores%2C+juniors%2C+and+seniors+are+all+welcome+to+take+part+in+the+new+theatre+departments+Introduction+to+Acting+Course.

Meyer

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are all welcome to take part in the new theatre departments Introduction to Acting Course.

The Music & Theatre Department is hoping to show students that it is never too late to become a theatre student with a new course Introduction to Acting. 

Beginning next school year, sophomores, juniors, and seniors with little to no prior theatre experience will be able to take the new course for one or two semesters. Students will learn the basics of theatre, such as character-building, play reading, and ensemble building.

We [wanted] to create offerings that are attractive to kids, who maybe pared down what they were doing during the pandemic, [but] are now starting to figure out, ‘I wish I had done theatre’”

— Nina Lynn

Sophomore Allie Ross, a Theatre 2 student, thinks that this will encourage upperclassmen to join the theatre program. 

“If you are a junior or a senior, and you haven’t taken Theatre 1 or Theatre 2, you’re like, ‘Well, it’s too late.’ You can still audition for plays, but [with] a beginner class open to them, a lot more people would do [theatre],” said Ross.

When the course was under consideration, the department was aware that the current course options were not meeting the needs of the upperclassmen, so they decided to make a place that suited their needs, according to theatre teacher Nina Lynn, who helped develop the new course. 

“For juniors and seniors, they may be more hesitant [to join Theatre 2], so we wanted a place that really welcomed [them] into the [theatre] program,” said Lynn. 

Since Introduction to Acting and Theatre 2 contain similar content, Lynn said that sophomores should enroll in Theatre 2, which is already sophomore-heavy. Seniors should enroll in Introduction to Acting, and juniors can pick either course. 

When a student completes Introduction to Acting, they can take Theatre 2, or with instructor recommendation and approval, move on to Theatre 3. 

Another consideration the department had when creating the course was making a clearer entry point at the Winnetka campus for first-time theatre students.

“There’s not a lot of obvious entry points for theatre in our department for students who may not have had any experience before, so we wanted to make entry points that are welcoming and inclusive for all,” said Elizabeth Bennett, the Music & Theatre Department chair.

When students come to the Winnetka campus, Bennett says, they “understand [their] schedule a little better,” which allows them to ask more questions: “What can I take? What do I want to try?” 

This course seeks to reel in those students. 

“In case you missed theatre at Northfield, here it is now,” said Bennett. 

The idea for this course has been under discussion for many years. While the Music & Theatre Department encourages students to stick to the four-year theater course sequence, they understand that, especially after the pandemic, that is not realistic for everyone. 

“We [wanted] to create offerings that are attractive to kids, who maybe pared down what they were doing during the pandemic, [but] are now starting to figure out, ‘I wish I had done theatre’,” said Lynn. 

Theatre students, regardless of experience, have found their time in the theatre program to be positive, and have applied their newfound knowledge in and out of the classroom. 

“It was the class where I could be myself, and I never felt like that before,” said Ross, who started theatre in freshman year. 

“I know how to make situations funnier, more serious, and I know how to handle difficult situations better,” said junior Charlie Ronan, a Theatre 3 student, who started theatre in the seventh grade. 

Lynn explained how a student can become a theatre kid. 

“All you need to do to be a theatre kid at New Trier is come to a theatre class,” said Lynn.