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The Upper School Drama department offers both curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students to explore the theater as an art form.  Whether motivated by a curiosity to try something new or by a continuing interest in a theatrical discipline, students can explore several different aspects of the art form or specialize in one.  Through performing, students learn to use their voices and bodies expressively, to analyze and enliven a text, to think on their feet, and to present themselves confidently in front of an audience.  Recent alumni to take advantage of the department’s offerings have transferred their skills and experiences to college, where their successes have ranged from set designing student-directed productions to gaining admission to competitive and well-regarded acting programs.

The Drama Department offers two year-long electives as part of the Upper School curriculum each year.  Extracurricular offerings include two major productions each year as well as the annual Instant Theater Festival.

Graduation requirements

One credit in the arts is required for graduation.  All courses in the Drama Department fulfill the graduation requirement.


Course offerings

  • Acting
  • Advanced Acting:  Scene Study
  • Advanced Acting: Solo Performance
  • Advanced Acting: Improvisation

Co-curricular Information

The extracurricular Upper School Drama program seeks to

  • involve interested students in as many aspects of the theater as possible;
  • expose its audiences, actors, and technicians to a wide range of theater styles, periods, and playwrights;
  • expand the range and develop the skills of its participants; and
  • promote drama as an enjoyable and thought-provoking art form.


Two “mainstage” non-musical plays are produced in the Upper School each year.  In addition to performing, students build the sets, participate in design decisions, hang lights and configure audio equipment, and run the show during performances, with a student stage manager calling all of the cues.  Rehearsals and tech sessions are held after school and on occasional weekends.  Recent productions have included works by Shakespeare, Anouilh, and David Linsday-Abaire.  Holley Hall’s flexible performance space has allowed varied stage configurations and design styles, including thrust stage and in-the-round as well as proscenium.


Instant Theater Festival

Each May, starting in 2003, Rutgers Prep students have produced and organized an Instant Theater Festival (ITF).  The ITF is a fast-paced adventure compressing the entire play production process into a little more than 24 hours.  Student playwrights are assigned to write a script for a small group of student actors.  After scripts are submitted one Saturday morning, directors and actors arrive to begin rehearsing.  A team of students finds and makes props and costumes as others configure lighting and sound effects.  That evening five or six world-premiere short plays, all related to the festival theme, are performed for an exhilarated audience.


Recent Achievements

  • Spring 2009 Production—Radium Girls
  • Fall 2008 Production—Snow Angel & Malarkey
  • Spring 2008 Production—The Laramie Project
  • Students admitted to the Mason Gross Acting & Technical Theater programs.
  • Students offered Acting scholarships by The Hartt School (University of Hartford) and The George Washington University.


Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements

Cora Turlish (department chair) studied Improvisation with The Upright Citizens Brigade and Playwriting at Primary Stages.  She recently completed the plays Malarkey, Co/op, and a verse adaptation of She Ventures and He Wins.


Other Links:

High Five
An organization that offers $5 tickets to arts events in the NYC area.

Theatre Development Fund

The organization which runs the discount ticket booths in NYC also offers even deeper discounts to members.  All students, as well as some others, are eligible to join!

New Jersey Arts
Find out about theater near you, and buy tickets.