In the Theater Department at Trinity-Pawling, there’s a place for everyone! Through an array of theater courses and extracurriculars, the Theater Department ignites passion in our students, in all aspects of the theater arts — whether acting, improvisation, directing, playwriting, producing, or lighting and set design. With his innovative and student-centered approach, Director of Theater Arts Kent Burnham creates a 360-degree view of the theater for his students, fostering creativity and self-discovery at every turn.
On the Stage
Trinity-Pawling’s theater program offers a range of courses in the performing arts, from public speaking and playwriting to devised theater, directing, and stage combat. The only prerequisites are open-mindedness and a willingness to try. The program mounts three main-stage theatrical productions each school year, ranging from one-act plays to full-scale musicals. In both coursework and productions, students are able to hone their performing technique as they engage, collaborate, and enhance their imaginations, characterization skills, and empathy.
Behind the Stage
In the world of live theater, a crucial part of any performance happens behind the scenes, both before the production opens and during its run. In our Theater Department, students on the Tech Crew take part in building the set, designing the lighting, planning the sound cues, creating the special effects, and more. With an emphasis on safety and collaboration, they learn fundamental construction and building methods, lighting and sound system engineering, and stage management skills. During our three main-stage productions each year, the tech crew works together to keep each performance running smoothly and safely, from the moment the curtain rises to the very last cue.
The Improv Space
The Improv Space introduces students and faculty to the world of improvisation, developing the core principles of listening, accepting and celebrating mistakes, working as an ensemble, and trusting one’s ideas. Better yet — it's a fun time to come together as a community and try something new! The Improv Space allows students to break out of their comfort zones, build confidence, and learn to express creative ideas clearly and joyfully.
Be Inspired by New York City!
The hub of art and culture — New York City — is our neighbor! Throughout the year, theater students can catch a train from Pawling to NYC to experience some of the most dynamic theater performances in the world, from highly-acclaimed Broadway shows to smaller, edgier productions. The trips increase our students’ exposure to all types of live theater, and perhaps spark an interest that they may not have discovered otherwise.
For me, teaching theater is all about discovering and building a student’s sense of empathy. My goal is for them to understand another person, culture, or way a person behaves. That’s all acting is, really. It’s a sense of understanding and the ability to recognize ourselves in someone else and create something with it.
Kent Burnham, Director of Theater Arts
Past Productions at Trinity-Pawling
I started my acting career at Trinity-Pawling as Juror #4 in Twelve Angry Men during my senior year. That's where I caught the bug that set the course for my life. I felt comfortable on stage and in front of the camera. I learned that if you find something you're good at, latch on to it.
Andrew Massett ’67