When participating in a high school theater production, sophomore Shalinee Maitra collects her school materials and heads straight to rehearsal every day after school. For hours she works until it is time to go home.
Maitra is one of the many students who take part in productions at the high school, but she, like all other drama students, receives no school credit for the hours she invests. Athletes receive credit for participation in a sports team, but students like Maitra spend an equal amount of time working on productions for no credit.
According to senior Sophia Pouzyrev, the process of putting on a production is a considerable amount of work, and worthy of school credit.
“You put in so many hours throughout the week and then tech week you’re at the high school until 8:15 p.m. every night,” Pouzyrev said. “It is physically exhausting. Why shouldn’t participation in productions get credit?”
Guidance counselor Clifton Jones said that he would support the high school giving credit to students in theater.
“I would support it, if it was passed and kids could get performing arts credits for doing a bunch of theater and drama stuff outside of school, yeah absolutely,” Jones said. “For some kids drama is their life, their passion. I have seniors now who have done drama all four years and we talk about it in the recs, but it being actually on their transcript as credit does make a difference.”
According to Performing Arts Department Chair Kenny Kozol, productions are considered an extracurricular, and therefore students are not able to receive credit. Students receive credit for sports due to the state-mandated law that requires students to get a certain amount of exercise.
Freshman Max Harris said that adding credit could solve the issue of the performing arts department receiving acknowledgement.
“As a freshman, one thing that I’ve noticed is how the theater work is portrayed. When kids say they have a big tournament or something over a weekend, some teachers let them turn in homework late. When I had a lot going on with a production and a test the next day, the teacher wouldn’t let me move it to the next afternoon,” said Harris. “So I think sometimes theater is portrayed as not that much work, but it’s a lot of work. It’s not just putting on a show, it’s more complicated than I think people realize.”
According to Harris, the high school environment is part of the reason people have this attitude and bias towards sports.
“There are more options for sports. You don’t have to do a sport, but it’s more beneficial for you to do a sport than theater, which I think is unfair in a sense. It’s sort of like you can do theater and get nothing, but if you do sports you get this and this,” Harris said. “So I think there’s a little more motivation to do a sport in this school.”
Sophomore Shahar Hartman who participates in spring track said the school is sending a specific message to the students through this policy.
“It seems fair to add credit, because kids who play sports get credit, so the school is saying that acting is less than sports,” said Hartman.
According to Maitra, course credit would not only acknowledge the hard work that is being put into these plays, but provide incentive for students to try drama.
“There are kids who want to do theater but feel like they are too busy or it’s too big of a commitment,” Maitra said. “Credit would provide more of an incentive to do the productions.”
According to Pouzyrev, adding more credit could help blend separated communities.
“If credit were added I think that the people who don’t take drama classes during school because they don’t have time to might try to audition for plays to get a credit in each of the categories,” said Pouzyrev. “That would be really cool because there’s kind of a stagnancy in the community as to who auditions for plays and the community who does sports. There needs to be an overlap, and so maybe the opportunities to do a show and get credit for it would be a way to get people from other communities into theater.”
Correction: Tech week rehearsals for most plays go until 8:15 pm.