Taking Risks, Reaping Rewards
Performing arts classes at Milton are grounded in collaboration and respect. Students and faculty learn together—by coming up with an idea, testing it, getting feedback, adapting, and trying again. This iterative “learning by doing” means that risk-taking is part of the plan. The ultimate goal is to share the art—acting, drama, dance, speech, design for the theatre—and to perfect the performance (in class and in rehearsal), students learn to trust one another. Faculty—skilled professionals in their field—model the work they want their students to take on, tapping into creativity and imagination, willing to fail and accept honest feedback. They create safe and exciting places—on stages and in studios—for students to take their love of performance to the highest level, or to try something new for the very first time.
Storytelling through performance takes many forms, both in and out of the classroom at Milton. Staging at least ten major productions each year—which can include major ensemble musicals, the traditional Class IV Play, the beloved “1212” productions, the favorite Winter Dance Concert and Improv Night—Milton offers myriad opportunities for students to test their acting, dancing, directing or theatre design skills, and then grow over their Milton years.
Students also take advantage of the time-honored and nationally recognized Milton speech and debate programs—learning the fundamentals of performance, literary interpretation, public address and debate, all as part of a supportive team. Performing in tournaments around the country, Milton “speechies” earn awards ranging from individual state and national championships to team honors.
Performing Arts Facilities
The Performing Arts Department is housed in the Kellner Performing Arts Center. Built in the 1990s, the building contains a large dance studio, spacious rooms for speaking, a “black box” studio theatre, fully-equipped scene construction and costume shops, and the showcase — the Ruth King Theatre. A gift of novelist Stephen King in honor of his mother, the theatre is one of its kind at high schools across America. With an auditorium equipped with elevator and movable chairs, it is a twentieth-century adaptation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Its flexibility allows the department to present productions in a most original fashion and to change configurations to suit plays from various historical periods. We are proud to have this treasure on our campus.
We are always learning. I tell the students, especially in Improv class, that you learn as much from your bombs as from your successes. I don’t ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I always demonstrate, and I often demonstrate failure, not intentionally, but because it happens. I want them to see that I’m not going to shut down and never perform again because of a mistake.Peter Parisi