Walking through the elaborate stage designs, Heatherly Stephens, the HKIS High School Drama Teacher, enthusiastically presents the set created by students for the play Clue. For students at HKIS, there is a unique thrill that only theater brings out. Ms. Stephens describes the experience: “[B]eing vulnerable on stage, memorizing lines, becoming a character, I think that these are really important and valuable skills for HKIS students to learn.”
Students are present in every possible corner and aspect of the production. Beyond just the aforementioned set designs, students are also in charge of lighting, and even get the opportunity to assist in directing and sound design. Ms. Stephens says “I try to get them [students] as hands on as they possibly can.” By exposing students to a variety of opportunities and perspectives, the theater program allows each individual who experiences it to discover a new side of themselves.
In her years at HKIS, the theater program has grown in several ways. With the school’s support, the High School Auditorium has been renovated and maintained to be both welcoming and safe. And interest in the program has continued to flourish. Ms. Stephens recalls, “when I did Wizard of Oz a while back, I had munchkins in that show [who were in Upper Primary] that are now in my program because they were so excited about that show.” The theater program has helped catapult many students into their future paths, going on to join prestigious programs at NYU and Rhode Island School of Design. Along that journey, Ms.Stephens provides support by preparing them for interviews and auditions. “I just want people to live their dreams. I think my art form is helping to create other artists.”
The strength of the program was evident in the way it was able to persevere and adapt through the difficult pandemic. Ms.Stephen’s background in film and television broadcasting came in handy as productions were held entirely online or pre-recorded. The theater program at HKIS carries on the longstanding tradition of storytelling and creative expression that attracts students year after year.
Tech Theatre Club shows Middle School students around the Auditorium
HKIS students perform the musical Grease
Get the inside scoop in this interview with Heatherly Stephens and Carolina Wen '23
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