Like so many things at Fredericksburg Christian School, theatre is not just about vocal techniques and memorizing lines, it’s about leadership. Walking into a drama class led by theatre director Joshua King, you might find outgoing athletes, talented musicians, or the quiet and shy. Regardless, they’ll all be leaders in training.
Take Nathan Trementozzi ‘18–who played the Beast in their recent rendition of Beauty and the Beast. Outside of school, he’s been very involved in Christian Youth Theater. Within the walls of FCS, Nathan has developed a passion for performing arts. “He’s been bit by the acting bug,” says Joshua.
Corbin Sorenson ‘17, who has been in every production since Joshua King started his tenure, is the classic story of a shy freshman turned acting pro.
“Corbin is now actually directing a show,” says Joshua. “And he’s been offered a scholarship to the American Music and Dramatic Academy.” Joshua gives senior students the opportunity to take a leadership role; whether that’s writing a scene or directing a performance. They learn to “communicate professionally with each other.” They’re forced to make leadership decisions about how a scene is blocked and performed.
Beauty and the Beast and the Crew
Joshua King uses drama to remind the students about where their talent comes from, and Who the glory belongs to. “Just like everything in this world, [our talents] come from the creator. Because God first created us, we need to strive to be like Him,” explains Mr. King.
In their spring play, students learned how to appreciate supporting roles and leading roles alike. Joshua taught the cast a new way of looking at Beauty and the Beast. “Yes, the Beast made a bad decision. But, the whole castle was hurt by it,” says Joshua. “We have to work together.” He likened the cast to the body of Christ, remembering that each and every person in the body of Christ is important to the end goal.
Among those important roles were the nine tech team members who took care of lighting, special effects, and tech cues. Since the forty-eight member crew was made up of 6th-12th graders, lower school students were paired with upper school students. “We saw friendship and accountability form,” says Joshua.
A Message of Grace
Each year, the Drama 2 class ventures to the Virginia Theatre Association’s one-act festival. Students gain access to workshops from directors, actors, and college professors. They also have the opportunity to compete against schools from all over Virginia.
This year, Joshua wrote a one-act play about the grace of God. “Riding in, we thought you were either going to get it or you weren’t,” says Joshua. Their scores from the two judges could not have been more different. “One person gave us a low score. He said ‘I didn’t really understand the plot.’ The other judge gave us the highest score you could get, and wrote ‘thank you for writing this message and bringing it into a world that doesn’t have this type of message.’”
Later that night, FCS students were able to talk with kids from other high schools about their play and the incredible story it told of God’s grace.
Real Life Improv
Over the years, the drama department has produced some exceptional talent. Among them is Laura Long, who currently plays a supporting character in AMC’s Turn.
Students are learning to look a their world in a critical way. They even bring back notes and questions after seeing plays, tv shows, and movies. “I can’t tell you how many times something has come out and the students have come back with pages of notes about it; asking why certain choices were made.” Joshua King challenges them with questions of his own, like how they would have blocked the scene differently, or why something didn’t seem to work.
“There’s something special about acting live,” says Joshua. “Whether it’s an audience member or someone backstage, you never know when something is going to go different.” Mr. King’s philosophy about drama is simple: “If I can use drama to guide them to what the Lord wants them to do, then I’ve done my job.” He doesn’t push the students into a theatrical career, but hopes the lessons they learn will make them stronger, more equipped servants for the Lord.
“Maybe they’re supposed to be a public speaker,” says Joshua. “Or a pastor. You never know the things that can influence a kid to be a leader in the future.” One thing is for sure, these students will be able to improv for the Lord both on and off the stage.
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