Stuart Hall Theatre
Stuart Hall has an acting theatre program that branches out into the community. With the Mary Baldwin College graduate program, Shakespeare and Performance, and guests artists and performance opportunities with the American Shakespeare Center, STU theatre is well rooted in the community and uses the whole of Staunton as our campus. The program is supported by and structured around the National Core Arts Theatre Standards curriculum and the 21st Century competencies. All students are exposed to a foundation of values in the visual arts; however, students with a strong interest and high potential are afforded opportunities to pursue studies at advanced levels.
The Middle school theatre classes build a firm base of knowledge about the performing arts and how to work in and around the stage. Grades 6-8 have the opportunity to learn the basics of stage performance through theatrical game play, group exercises, and small project and performance creation. The goal is to help students gain confidence in public speaking and performance situations as well as develop a strong appreciation for the theatre as audience members and creators.
In the upper school classes we believe that the theatre has many lessons that can be applied to non-theatrical situations. The first class in the series, Introduction to Theatre, focuses on areas that will include a well-rounded knowledge of the importance and impact of the performing arts. From acting, to stage make-up, to stage combat, to history and literary understanding, this class boosts the knowledge and confidence of budding theatre artists while also creating an excellent ‘liberal arts’ base for students focusing in other areas such as the sciences. The next two classes in the series, Acting Studio and Shakespeare in performance, are for those students interested in honing their acting chops in more advanced ways. Offered in alternating years, these two classes are for the part-time actor who wishes to learn more and have fun while also preparing the student who wishes to follow a performance major in college.
These plays are open for all students to audition and rehearsals are held after school.
- The Fall Play is open to upper school students (usually veterans) and this play goes to competition. We travel to the Virginia Theatre Association’s State level conference. At this conference we not only compete in the High School One Act Play Festival, but there are tons of workshops, college tables, college scholarship auditions, and much more!
- The Winter Play is open to middle school students for acting positions and upper school students do the technical positions around them. This provides great cross-divisional interplay and helps many middle school students create friendships that soften the transition to their Upper School experience.
- The Spring Play is open to both upper and middle school students for either onstage or offstage positions. When possible, this play is when we do a musical performance.
The Theatre Emphasis Program is a two year program for junior and seniors with an interest in the performing arts. Theatre students follow a set curriculum and are required to participate, in a substantive way, in at least two major theatrical productions per year. Courses in this program include: Introduction to Theatre, Acting Studio, Shakespeare in Performance, and Senior Capstone Experience. Additionally, students are expected to attend at least one VTA (Virginia Theatre Association) conference and be a member of (or working towards membership in) the International Thespian Society.
Recent Senior Capstone Projects have included writing, acting in, and directing full-length productions, though many students choose to focus their Senior Capstone Projects on one element of production: writing, acting, directing, or theatre tech/stage management. Theatre Arts Emphasis students have been accepted into colleges and universities that offer strong theatre programs such as New York University, Dickinson College, University of Virginia, Hollins University, Davidson College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan, and Elon University.
Want to learn more?
Visit the STU Theatre Department's Weebly site by clicking here.
Jeremy West - Program Director
Jeremy West is the Director of the Theatre Emphasis Program at Stuart Hall School & Chair of the Fine Arts department. He is also the Fencing Instructor at Mary Baldwin, and a ten year veteran actor of the American Shakespeare Center where he serves as a Fight Director in the summer months. In 2012, he served as the Assistant Director for the Summer and Fall seasons and continues to work with the ASC education department teaching workshops. He has more than 15 years of professional work as an Actor, Director, and Fight Director.
Mr. West is recognized with the Society of American Fight Directors and the British Academy of Dramatic Combat in multiple weapons, five of which have earned him "recommendation" awards from the SAFD for excellence in the performance of stage combat. He has had placements for practical training at the Globe Theatre, London and academic research at the Shakespeare Institute Library in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and was a 2007 Fulbright Finalist for the U.K. He holds a B.A. in Theatre Performance and an MFA in Staging Shakespeare, with Distinction, from Exeter University, U.K. and additional training with practitioners such as: Jane Lapotaire, Emma Thompson, Gyles Block, Ralph Zito, Stewart Pearce, and Michael Kahn. Other professional stage acting work includes: Shakespeare Theatre, D.C.; Virginia Shakespeare Festival; Virginia Stage Company; The Shakespeare Forum; Vanguard Theatre Company, U.K.; Next Stage Theatre; and Heritage Theatre Festival, among others.