Inside the Drama Studio
By Dylan Sherman
This is a familiar sound to many in the mornings at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA).
The nearby film majors particularly detest the sound, slamming their door shut, as their studio is inconveniently located across the hall from FSSA’s first-floor Black Box theater.
The senior drama majors’ daily warm up is well rehearsed and in unison, something they have done every morning since their first year of high school.
The senior drama studio boasts an ensemble of 28 talented students, most of whom have been in the same class for the past four years. Together, they have survived a global pandemic, a variety of student teachers, a teacher’s maternity leave, and their spring production of Big Love by Charles Mee.
Their close bond is partially a result of their participation in the annual show Breaking Our Silence, formerly known as The Names that Hurt, to the school community. They performed it digitally, an experience that the ensemble will remember for years to come.
Now, the gang’s all back together and dealing with a new obstacle: college admissions.
While the drama studio is notoriously talented, boasting a professional caliber of work at a young age, many do not plan to apply for BFA acting programs. However, many of them still want to perform in college.
“It was really difficult for me to try and find a school that would teach me both acting and forensics,” says senior drama major Thalia Gerloff.
In class, the students spend most of their time now in something called their creative spaces. After reciting Dr. Seuss’s “Grip Top Sock,” students all sit in chairs facing the wall while their teacher Mr. Cacciola-Price, or CP, individually coaches students for their monologues. Though they are not applying for a BFA, many students are recording their monologues for college supplementals, hoping their theatrical talents will give them an edge on their applications.
“We’re way far ahead in comparison to other programs. The monologues are coming along,” says CP.
While the world of professional acting is cutthroat, it seems the seniors are up to the challenge, with the dedicated students tirelessly working to master their material. This is something they have been working toward for the past three years.
“There has 100 percent been an improvement since I taught them sophomore year. I think you all notice it as well. The real test will come when we perform our end of term live show. Everyone has grown not only in the quality of their work, but in their awareness of the things they need to improve upon,” CP adds.
In the studio all this independent work is interrupted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when students have a period of theatre history. Students learn about ancient Greek and Roman theater in their theatre history class. These projects are more interactive, with small groups recreating choral odes from Socrates’s Oedipus and even delivering monologues from the play Medea with a five-pound cloak, just like the ancient Greeks did.
The drama studio has gone through a lot together over the past four years, and college admissions will be another challenge they will have to overcome. However, their teamwork and trust in each other ensure they will be well-prepared for the journey ahead.