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Lee Kasper, Upper School Theater Teacher
Lee Kasper, US theater teacher

Upper School theater at Calhoun is a place filled with creativity, ingenuity, activism, and massive amounts of talent and commitment. Producing three productions each year, students at Calhoun get to explore a wide range of styles and content and are often one of the driving forces behind each of the shows we do. 

Theater, to me, is an opportunity to explore our humanity through art. The goal should always be a rich and fulfilling experience for not only the students involved with the show, both onstage and off, but also for our audiences. The clearest way to meet that goal, in my opinion, is to ensure as collaborative a process as possible starting with show selection. I invite the most committed rising seniors to help select material for the year and encourage them to take on roles beyond performing onstage. This includes shadowing designers, serving as an assistant director or associate producer, and any other role a student might be excited to explore.

As I consider the types of material we are going to tackle, I often look back at my own theater education and ask the big question: “If I knew then what I know now, what would I have wanted to learn?” As a guiding question this opens up so many doors. We can create opportunities for student written and directed work. We can invite professional playwrights into our theater spaces to develop brand new work. We can even branch out past theater and into film. The only limit is that of our own imaginations. 

A typical year in the Calhoun US Theater program involves a play in the fall, a musical in the Spring, and a piece that is more student driven in the winter. In the past this has looked like a play development workshop inspired by the actors and a full fledged film with a plot and characters built around the personalities and passions of our students. Looking ahead, we are very excited to begin exploring student directed and student written one-act festivals and potentially devoting an entire season to student written work. In each season, our actors choose a charity that is connected to the project, and we invite our audiences to take community action related to the themes of the plays. We also invite our audience to join us for post-show discussions about the show, our process, and why it all matters. 

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