Core Curriculum & Required Projects

Freshman Year
Acting I
Voice and Speech I
Dance I
Musical Theatre Workshop Project

Sophomore Year
Acting II/Playwriting
Theatre History I
Dance II

Junior Year
Acting III
Theatre History II
Dance III
Business of Theatre/AVPA-T Junior Seminar Project

Senior Year
Acting IV

Additional Electives & Projects

Performance Electives
Fall Play
Winter Musical
Spring Student-Directed One-Acts

Design & Technical Theatre
Costume Design
Design for Theatre Project
Stage Management

Ballroom I & II
Beginning Modern Dance
Broadway Choreographers Project
Creative Dance Project
Dance Fundamentals
Dance Performance Workshop
Dance Stretch and Pilates

Musical Theatre
Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop Project

Creative Writing Humanities Research
Playwriting II

Additional Theatre Electives/Projects
Stage Combat/Stage Makeup
Voice & Speech for the Actor II

Course Descriptions
Acting I: (full year core course open to AVPA theatre freshmen only)
This course is the first component in a four year required sequence in Acting. Work starts with a focus on self in order to release and open emotional and physical ranges. Various unscripted strategies are incorporated such as Viewpoints and improvisation in order to stimulate the imagination, put emphasis on physical actions, encourage acting with the whole body and aid in ridding the actor of self-conscious mannerisms. Culminating work introduces beginning Stanislavski techniques to understand scenework. 

Acting II (full year core course open to AVPA theatre sophomores only)
In this course, basic acting technique is introduced with emphasis on the rehearsal process through scene study. Areas of focus include: ensemble playing, emotional recall and sense memory, script analysis with a focus on dramatic content, values and style, characterization and scoring a role. The interrelationship of actor and director in the rehearsal process is explored. Material is taken from modern American realism (Miller, Williams, Hellman, Wilson, etc.) Additionally, playwriting is taught to fully amplify skills in creating given circumstances, character development and motivation, and dialogue.

Acting III (full year core course open to AVPA theatre juniors only)
The purpose of this course is to develop a close, organic connection between the actor and his or her technique.  Each student is encouraged to investigate and utilize his or her widest possible range and to develop an individual method of work.  All students will prepare 4-6 monologues drawn from contemporary and classical repertory and will explore audition technique in preparation for future training in college or conservatory or work in the profession.

Acting IV (full year core course open to AVPA seniors only)
This advanced scene study class focuses on the exploration of the text and the utilization of technique to determine actor choices for the particular stylistic demands of a text and its period.  Scene studies from a variety of major theatrical periods and styles are rehearsed, examining them in context of each play's content, structure, period, and movement to arrive at a valid character interpretation.

Acting Methods (1 trimester elective -- open to non-AVPA/T students in grades 9-12)
In this course students begin to understand and appreciate the actor's art and craft. Through relaxation, sense memory and substitution games and exercises students discover aspects of themselves they might not have been aware of before.  Students work toward using these aspects of themselves in creating characters in scripted and non-scripted material.

Ballroom 1 and 2 (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
Learn to be comfortable in social settings by working on your communication skills in Ballroom dance class. Listen to your dance partner by using the physical cues of leading and following. Practice your handshake while looking someone in the eye. Practice all these communication skills in a non-threatening, fun environment all while learning how to dance. Ballroom I will learn the Fox Trot, Rumba and Swing and Ballroom II will learn the Tango and the Waltz. Leave your device behind and get ready to quick, quick, slow!!!!!! This class meets once per week.

Beginning Modern Dance (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
Who was Isadora Duncan? Why was she considered a feminist? What was her contribution to American Modern Dance? This once a week class focuses on the feminine, graceful movement language of Isadora Duncan. The class begins with a modern dance warm-up focusing on 'fall and rebound', as well as breath and gravity in movement. Students will learn movement phrases to be performed across the floor. Students will also learn an excerpt from Duncan's work entitled "Brahms Waltzes."

Broadway Choreographers Dance Project (1 trimester project -- open to all students)
Focus on both historical as well as contemporary Broadway choreographers. This project will start with a technical dance warm up, followed by learning excerpts of original choreography from Broadway shows. Some of the possible choreographers that will be studied are Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Rob Ashford, Jerry Mitchell, Andy Blankenbuehler and Susan Stroman. Students will research their favorite choreographer and then work in groups to create a piece based upon that choreographer using music from a show. Choreographic principles will be discussed to enhance the project.

Business of Theatre/AVPA-T Junior Seminar (required project for AVPA Theatre juniors)
Through research, field trips, video conferences, and guest speakers students will explore theatre, film and television as a profession and as a business.  Topics include portfolio preparation, resumes and pictures, union memberships, agents, job opportunities, auditions, interviews, and advanced training.

Costume Design (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
This course takes students step by step through the process of designing costumes for the current BCA main stage production.  Student designers w learn about the costume stock at BCA, research the play and period, research previous productions, take measurements, pull from stock, render designs, hold concept production meetings, attend rehearsals and work with the actors.  Student designers co-create and maintain the entire costume design of the show and can participate backstage if desired.  Designers create character boards and learn basic stitching.

Creative Dance Project (1 trimester project -- open to all students)
Students are encouraged to compose with movements and with words. Students will study the concepts of space, time and force through physical warm ups, dance skills, creative movement explorations and choreography. Each lesson will focus on at least two Creative Dance concepts. The Creative Dance concepts that will be taught and explored are place, size, pathways, direction, level, speed, rhythm, flow, energy, weight and balance. Students will approach this course as learning dance from “the inside out” as opposed to mimicking or learning from “the outside in.” Dance technique skills will be emphasized for the warm up and students will be encouraged to use their dance technique in order to find their own organic sense of movement. Directed movement improvisations are designed to lead students to explore new movement potential in order to create their own choreography. Finally, students will journal and create word compositions which will be inspiration for movement compositions. The final product of this project will be a lecture/demonstration performance of movement and words created by the students.

Dance I (2 trimester required course for AVPA freshmen)
This course prepares actors for dance roles in the musical theatre by introducing basic dance theory and terminology while developing stretch, strength, and coordination towards proper dance technique.  Students learn beginning ballet and tap.

Dance II (2 trimester required course for AVPA sophomores)
Students continue their study of  ballet and add beginning musical theatre dance to develop the skills necessary for ensemble and solo work in the musical theatre.

Dance III (2 trimester required course for AVPA juniors)
Students increase their proficiency in musical theatre dance, and ballet.

Dance IV (2 trimester required course for AVPA seniors)
Students increase their proficiency in musical theatre dance and study beginning modern dance.  Students create original pieces of choreography in this final course in the dance sequence.

Dance Fundamentals (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
How do dancers balance, turn, leap, isolate and move quickly? Learn the secrets of dance training - alignment, musicality, coordination, change of weight in a non-threatening environment. Have fun warming up while learning about core strength, stretching, isolations and body alignment. Practice dance moves across the floor as well as turns and leaps in a supportive class. Learn a fun routine but most importantly, stand taller with more confidence and grace as you become more aware of your physicality.

Dance Performance Workshop (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
This class is only offered Trimester 2 and it is for accomplished dancers. Students must be approved by the teacher before registering for the course. Dance Performance Workshop is a class designed so students can choreograph and rehearse their own compositions. Students will be guided in the process of creating work, rehearsing work and finally performing work. Each student must present a piece of choreography that will be rehearsed and coached for a performance. This class is only offered Trimester 2 and meets once per week.

Dance Stretch and Pilates  (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
Do you need space to breathe, re-group, de-stress? Find your inner calm in a quiet space where you can focus on your center. We start with standing exercises to warm-up and lengthen the spine and neck. We then move to sitting exercises and finally to exercises lying on the floor. Students will gain awareness of their alignment and will begin to realize how certain negative postures can have an impact on their overall health. Students will also learn the benefits of a somatic practice. This once per week class is a fusion of dance, pilates and yoga exercises.

Design for Theatre (1 trimester project -- open to all students)
Working with BCA faculty and guest artists students learn scene painting, prop building and soft craft construction.  Students in this project are also introduced to the basic operation of the stage lighting, rigging and sound systems of the Bergen County Academies Auditorium.  Students paint sets and create props for the BCA main stage production each trimester.

Directing (full year core course open to AVPA seniors only)
This course introduces the student to theory and techniques of stage direction. Basic director’s concepts are studied and applied to scenes and short plays. Work includes: exercises in stage visualization, picturization, composition and movement; analysis of scenes with emphasis on the theatrical content of scripts; focus on director preparation in such matters as casting procedures, rehearsal technique and director/actor relationship; and choice and execution of production values (lighting costume, sound). Student director’s work culminates in directing a fully staged and produced one-act play. 

Musical Theatre Workshop Project (required project for AVPA Theatre freshmen)
The project allows students to explore the problems unique to the musical theatre with emphasis on the expression of a dramatic situation through song interpretation and character.  Students explore song material drawn from major periods of the American musical and present scene-song studies.  Sight singing skills and musicianship are also emphasized.  Research and reading in the history of the musical theatre are included.

Playwriting I (1 trimester elective)
This elective examines the role of the playwright in the theater. Students not only examine the works of professional playwrights, but they also closely investigate the different processes of writing for theater. Through the study of different plays and playwrights and various writing games and exercises, students write their own one-act play. This class will also culminate with a submission of each student’s play to the New Jersey Young Playwright’s competition. Winners receive a professional staged reading. BCA has had winners the past thirteen years.

Playwriting II (1 trimester project -- pre-requisite, Playwriting I)
Building on the work of Playwriting I, this course results in a completed one-act play for each student.  Plays are submitted to a variety of playwriting competitions.

Screenwriting (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
This elective examines the role of the screenwriter in TV and film. Students study the works of professional screenwriters and closely investigate the different processes of writing for TV, film and other screen media. Throughout the study, the students will also write their own screen- or teleplay.

Stage Combat/Stage Makeup (1 trimester project -- open to all students)
This hands-on project explores two completely fun areas of stage and film: Make-Up and Combat. For half of the 10 weeks, students will be taught four styles of stage/film make-up including Fantasy and Forensic. The other half of our time together, students will be trained in basic stage combat with Ms Pero and visiting fight instructor Dan Renkin. The project will culminate in a giant group combat scene, filmed and edited in class with the inclusion of forensic (cuts and bruises) make-up to augment the short film fight.

Stagecraft (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
In this course students gain an understanding of the basics of carpentry for the stage as well as the necessary safety practices involved in theatrical construction. Students in this elective build the set for the main-stage production of that trimester.

Theatre History I (full year core course for AVPA sophomores)
Beginning with Romanticism and ending with contemporary theatre practices, this course explores major periods and trends in the theatre through an examination of performance environments, theatre architecture, design, acting styles, scripts, audiences and social and cultural conditions of the times. 

Theatre History II (full year core course for AVPA juniors)
An historical exploration of global theatre arts in relation to developing Eastern and Western world civilizations, this course includes a study of theatre architecture, styles of acting, the development of stage costume and the range of dramatic literature from the Greeks through the closing of the theatre in Great Britain in 1642. Special emphasis is placed on discovering how the institution of the theatre serves as an expression of social, economic, philosophical, religious and cultural movements of a specific historical period. 

Voice and Speech for the Actor I (required course for AVPA freshmen)
This course develops the actor’s vocal range and quality along with training in the use of standard American speech. Using the training techniques of the Alexander Method and the work of Cicely Berry and Kristin Linklater, students are introduced to a variety of physical techniques in order to release tensions and gain control over vocal range, placement and flexibility with a special emphasis on complex and classical texts.

Voice and Speech for the Actor II (highly recommended for seniors planning to audition for college theatre programs: Pre-requisite- Voice and Speech I)
This course provides continued exercises and technique work.  Emphasis is on vocal production and placement, breath control, articulation, regionalisms, dialects and projection as applied to scene and monologue work.

Performance Courses

Fall Play Theatre Production (1 trimester elective -- open to grades 10-12)
This course is designed to give the student actor an opportunity to develop acting skills, learn character analysis, and to participate in the staging, costuming, and scenic design for a full-length play. (Meets four days each week plus extra time toward the end of the trimester)

Winter Musical Theatre (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
In this course, student actors undertake the tasks necessary to produce a full-length, fully mounted musical theatre piece.  Presentational musical theatre technique in acting, singing and dance is developed with rigorous attention given to ensemble building.  (Meets four days each week plus an hour and a half after school each day)

One Act Play Festival (1 trimester elective -- open to all students)
This elective is designed to give the student a hands-on experience in acting techniques, character analysis, proper staging, costuming, prop making and scenery design, through the vehicle of a one-act play.  Students audition for roles, memorize and rehearse lines, make costumes, produce and gather props, design and construct scenery, and present the play during an evening play festival. Directors of these plays are all AVPA: Theatre Seniors.  The experience provides a fitting culmination for the work of the AVPA: Theatre student.

CASTING POLICY:  The BCA Theatre Department guarantees that all AVPA: Theatre students will be cast in several BCA productions during their four years at Bergen Academies. Being ‘cast' means cast in an ensemble, supporting or principal role in the fall play, musical or one-act play festival. We follow no seniority policy; principal roles are not reserved for juniors and seniors - a freshman may be cast in a principal role. That said, we understand that in an educational setting it is our responsibility as educators to make it possible for students to have a variety of production experiences. We encourage families to celebrate and support any role a student takes in any BCA production, be it principle, supporting, ensemble, technical or managerial.