Drama performances have been part of life at Calvin Christian High School from its very beginning in 1980. At first, there was one school play each year. In 1997 a spring musical was added. In 2005 we added a winter dinner theater production. It is remarkable that a school our size has three major theater productions each year.
It is also remarkable that we can put on three quality productions each year without an auditorium or any permanent stage. The fall play and dinner theater are performed in the library and the musical is performed in the gym.
Drama productions are part of our program of Christ-centered education at Calvin. We want each drama production to be more than just a fun time for cast, crew, and audience. It is one of many ways, both curricular and co-curricular, that we work with students to help them understand what it means to be children of God in this world. We talk together at different times about how drama is art and art is creative. God created us in his image and a part of that means that we, like him, are creative. When the actors are developing their characters and working together to tell a story, they are creating something.
Being part of the story of a play and creating a character within a play is a way for students to explore. Acting allows a person to live with situations and feel emotions that they might never experience in their own lives. It broadens understanding of our world. It produces empathy in us for others. For example, my own involvement in The Diary of Anne Frank both as a director and an actor has forever made me identify on a deeper, more emotional level with the suffering of the Jews during WWII. Like any good story, a play should help us understanding the human condition. It broadens our understanding of the world by letting us see the world through someone else’s eyes. This is true for an audience but so much more for an actor who actually takes on a character and is trained to think and act as that character.
To perform a play is to tell a story. A good story is more than just entertainment. Whenever we perform, we want the performance to say something to the audience. Even a farce or other light comedy can speak to us. Perhaps by poking fun of people who are pompous or miserly or selfish, we can, in some small way, make people think about their own values and choices. And so, we don’t perform primarily as a showcase for talents. We do it to share an experience with the audience. We hope that our plays are received that way and that God is pleased with our efforts.