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Theater Arts

The Shipley School offers theater and the performing arts as part of the academic curriculum and as an extracurricular activity.

Academic Program
The academic program focuses on vocal training and physical comportment. Students work on voice technique, projection, placement, diction, and clarity, and learn command of posture, poise, stage presence, and physical dynamics.

The Lower and Middle School theater programs integrate the skills outlined above into the English and history curricula, where young students present poetry selections, dramatic readings, historical speeches, and reenactments.

In the Upper School, dramatic texts taken primarily from American contemporary theater serve as the foundation for exercises. The level of sophistication increases by grade level.

The Lower School offers a variety of in-class presentations throughout the year as part of social studies and English. In Middle School, students present numerous dramatizations in social studies. Morning Meeting provides the stage for recitations and declamations. Once each semester, theater students present simply-staged scenes or short one act plays in a recital format for parents and friends. The Spring Musical culminates the Middle School theater schedule with a full production that is the outgrowth of the year's study.

In the Upper School, participation in extracurricular theater does not require enrollment in the academic courses. A fall production, usually a series of one act plays, attempts to offer roles to every student who auditions. The Spring Musical enlists the talents of singers and dancers. Throughout the year, performance assemblies offer a venue for student-run groups to present their work in music, comedy, drama, dance, or instrumental ensemble to the student body in a more casual setting. Talent shows in the fall and spring feature auditioned performers in a staged production.

A unique aspect of the theater program is the availability of plays written specifically for student use by Theater Program Director, Tony Morinelli. These plays address specific problems of high school theater. They are available on the Web and have been used by school theater departments throughout the world.

Shipley also participates in a number of student acting competitions, where students and faculty have won numerous awards, including:

1997 Media Playfest:  Best Ensemble Performance- White Room of my Remembering by Jean Lennox Toddie.
1999 Media Playfest: Best Production, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress- Desire Desire Desire by Christopher Durang.
2000 Media Playfest: Best Production, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress - The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco.
2001 Media Playfest:  Best Production, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best  Supporting Actor – Four Baboons Adoring the Sun by John Guare.
2003 Annual West Chester University Competition: Best Production, Best Actor, Best Actress – For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls by Christopher Durang.
2005 Annual West Chester University Competition: Best Actor, Best Scene, Best Comedic Monologue – The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, and Jack and Jill by Jane Martin.
2006 Annual West Chester University Competition:  Best Production, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor - Desire Desire Desire by Christopher Durang.

The Shipley Theater Department maintains the TheaterWords website,, a collection of royalty-free plays written by Shipley faculty specifically for performance by students, women, and theater groups.

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