Over the course of four years at Tara, students will have been actors in a minimum of four class plays and four musicals and will have had the opportunity to support the plays of other grades, either in tech, costuming, set construction or, occasionally, as a supporting actor. In addition, they will have spent many hours in rehearsal, exploring and discovering new territory within themselves. A parent working on the set for a Tara production once remarked that he suddenly had an “epiphany”: the performances he so looked forward to were merely a by-product of the real transformative work happening in rehearsals.
Rehearsals at Tara are deliberately long, intense and concentrated over a period of three or four weeks (six weeks for the all-school musical). The purpose is immersion in the process, so that what is being worked on or discussed lives strongly within each individual. The result for the students is more than just a memory of a good play; something has been created which lives within them for the rest of their lives. A crucible has been formed that holds the play, the form, the casting and the process. The hours of intense rehearsal time are the fire, and the alchemy that takes place is a spiritual journey of self-discovery that allows for self-knowledge that would otherwise not be revealed.
Casting for all plays and musicals is done by the director based on an understanding of the deeper aspects of the characters and the students’ development and disposition. We know our actors well and expect them to accept direction that makes them reach levels of talent and insight that they did not imagine possible. Given the quality of our productions, audiences continually express amazement that highly competitive auditions are not part of our acceptance process (although students might be given an opportunity to sing for the director so that voices and roles in the musical align!).
• • •
Being in a Tara production pushes you to places within yourself that you never thought you could reach, and when you get there, and you think you have done everything you can, there is still one more performance to go, and you have to stretch even further. It is in that place, after crossing over the threshold, that you discover new things about yourself.
Alumnus, Class of 2009