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Scene Stealers: Performing Arts Return to the Stage

The Steward School
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The following article was included in the latest issue of The Colonnade.

“Being next to someone on stage is like electricity; it shoots from one person to the next,” Zamiyah Burton ’23 said, describing the choir’s return to the stage this fall.

Zamiyah, who participated in the Synchronous At-home Learning Program throughout 2020-21, said she’s thrilled to be singing next to her classmates again. She’s grateful for the live performances, such as Convocation and Whirled Peace Day, but says it’s the everyday moments she loves best. “Every time I walk into the choir classroom, it’s the best part of the day,” she shared.

Theatre Teacher Craig Smith echoed her sentiments, recognizing that the rehearsals were a favorite for “The Giver” cast and crew.

“Rehearsals were the thing they really missed — hanging out backstage, getting to laugh with their friends,” he said. “It was so incredible to see them flock together in those groups whenever they had a moment.”

Theatre Teacher Susan Sanford shared that, throughout the pandemic, the performing arts teachers have been thoughtful about how to create the best student experience within the requirements of pandemic precautions. While they’re looking forward to a time when things return to “normal,” she recognizes that “the most core part of the performing arts is storytelling, and that transcends a mask.”

The Theatre Department put on two live performances last fall: “The Giver” in October, with 11 in the cast and seven crew members, and “All Together Now” in November, which featured approximately 20 Middle and Upper Schoolers. The Music Department performed live for in-person audiences at three school events (Convocation, Whirled Peace Day, and the Thanksgiving Program), as well as in a combined choir/band concert in December. At press time, the Theatre Department was busy planning for a musical review in February, called “Side by Side by Sondheim,” which features both classics and hidden gems by the late acclaimed composer Stephen Sondheim.

This is a marked departure from the spring of 2020 and the 2020-21 school year, in which live performances and in-person interactions were curtailed.

Choir Teacher Heidi Taylor said that nothing can replace performing live, together, even with masks and distancing requirements.

“There are a lot of skills you can learn on your own, and we did that last year, but there’s nothing as satisfying as performing in front of an audience,” Mrs. Taylor said. “A performance isn’t only about the performer, it’s also about the people in the room who become a part of it. It’s collective energy.”

Check out the Steward Snaps from a variety of arts performances, including District 1 Chorus Concert, Winter Choral & Instrumental Concert, The Giver, Side by Side by Sondheim, and the Grade 4 Play.
 
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