During the period of remote learning due to the pandemic, Drama Club Adviser Ronda Oathes continued the drama club by having students record their individual parts at home
Drama students at Woodland Middle School will perform the school’s first play since 2020 in March, ‘Giants in the Sky,’ a musical performance exploring the world of Giants who live above the clouds, with a cast of nearly 40 sixth through eighth graders directed by Ronda Oathes, the school’s drama and English Language Arts teacher and drama club adviser.
During the period of remote learning due to the pandemic, Oathes continued the drama club by having students record their individual parts at home, sending the video to Oathes who would then piece the parts together and release the finished performance as an online production. ‘Giants in the Sky’ will be the Drama Department’s first in-person production since remote learning as well as the school’s first-ever musical performance.
In order to prepare, Oathes held a “pre-audition” where interested students would need to sing a song and perform a small piece of choreography, “I honestly didn’t know if we had enough singers and dancers who would come out to perform,” she said. “It turns out we have some amazing talent, so we put together the real auditions and assembled our cast.”
One of the leads in ‘Giants in the Sky,’ Lillia Andrews, an eighth grader, enjoys the social camaraderie that comes with putting together a production. “I really like playing a character and having fun with my friends,” she said. “I prefer musicals because we get to sing and dance as part of their performance.”
The after school club offers students whose busy school schedules don’t offer time for them to take drama as a class to still take part and perform. “I didn’t have time in my schedule for Ms. Oathes’ drama class, but I’ve always wanted to perform,” said Jamison Moultrie, a seventh grader. “Being able to participate in the afterschool club means I get to be in a musical, and I love musicals.”
Oathes brought drama classes and the after-school program back to Woodland Middle School in 2018. “I had wanted to offer students the opportunity to put on productions since I first started teaching in Woodland,” she said. “We continue to see increasing interest in the drama program from students with many of those in this production performing for the first time, which is great.”
Oathes teaches students the foundations of performance including improvisation, characterization and how to become comfortable playing a part in front of an audience without laughing or breaking character. “It’s important for kids to get used to speaking and presenting in front of people since these are life skills they will use throughout their careers,” she said. “Performing plays provides an alternative to giving speeches and ease into public speaking – students get to add creativity and present characters which can often provide comfort to those nervous about being on-stage.”
Acting and performing can present a big challenge for introverted students who often shy away from speaking in front of large groups. “I balance stage work with in-class assignments so I can reach both introverted and extroverted students,” said Oathes. “We study the history of acting starting with how basic storytelling evolved over time followed by Roman and Greek theater, Shakespearean plays, and continuing all the way to vaudeville and the development of modern performance.”
For Oathes, her greatest satisfaction comes from watching her students develop their newfound talents, “I really love watching the kids come out of their shell and then nailing their performances,” she said. “There’s a lot of pride that comes from watching their confidence grow to the point where they own their performances by adding quirks and mannerisms to their characters.”
Interested in seeing a Giants in the Sky performance? You can buy tickets online.
The Woodland Middle School Drama Department will perform Giants in the Sky during three showings:
- Friday, March 3 at 6 p.m.
- Saturday, March 4 at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, March 4 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are available for $5.00 per person to any showing and can be purchased online at: https://wa-woodland-lite.intouchreceipting.com/WMSDrama. You can also donate funds toward future drama productions using the same link.
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland School District.
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