Yorktown High School has an extensive Theatre Arts Department that boasts many successes and produces educational theater that breaks creative boundaries and genre classifications.
It is a sequential program of study that emphasizes ensemble and original student work. At all levels, students focus on collaborative group activities, developing theatrical skills such as characterization, directing, auditioning, acting and playwriting. A student's culminating activity at the end of their fourth year is writing, directing, and acting in a one-person, 30-minute show. There is also a Technical Theatre class that provides the technical support for school production.
The department also brings in guest artists to conduct workshops and residencies. Through exposure to other styles and approaches, students enhance their knowledge of theater. This year's guest artists' workshops include an armed and unarmed theater combat workshop, an acting workshop, yoga workshops and an auditioning workshop. Previous residencies have included Shizumi (on Japanese theatre), Signature Theatre (on one-person shows), Jane Franklin Dance (on dance and choreography) and Washington Shakespeare Company (the production of "Much Ado About Nothing").
Carol Cadby, a former professional actor/director, heads the department. Cadby's educational theater philosophy is to give all students the opportunity to develop their full potential regardless of talent. She provides as many theatrical opportunities as possible by casting multiple actors to play one character, choosing large ensemble cast shows, and developing the writing/directing components in class. She also strives to increase the level of theatrical awareness in the audience and the students by choosing challenging material that communicates a distinct message and incorporates complex theatrical problems. Her signature style is highly conceptual and theatrical. She incorporates stylized movement, masks, choruses, and lyrical movement.
Yorktown's most recent plays include the musical "Carnival!" (April 2002) nominated for seven Cappie awards; "The Eumenidies" (November 2001); "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" (January 2002), a show that won first place at the 2002 Virginia High School League Regional One-Act Play Competition, and was performed at NOVA's Schlesinger Center); "Nevermore! Edgar Allen Poe, the Final Mystery" (April 2001); "Antigone" (October 2000); "Subway Dreams" (October 2000), a student-written and directed show; "Fiddler On the Roof" (April 2000) nominated for 5 cappie awards including Best Musical; "The Dining Room" (October 1999); "Bury the Dead" (October 1999) competed at the 2000 State Virginia High School League One Act Play competition, and "Julius Caesar," the winner of the 1999 State Virginia High School League One Act Play competition.
The Theatre Arts department also received the 2000-2001 Outstanding School Award given by the Education Theatre Association. The program was chosen as one of the 12 schools nationwide which best exemplified and promoted high standards of quality educational theater.