The Arts at Cardigan
The arts are a part of every student's Cardigan experience, as is the creative self-expression that is so essential to human experience. Through arts classes and many other contexts both on and off campus, Cardigan seeks to enhance appreciation of the arts, spur creative thinking and imagination, and encourage artistic expression of ideas and feelings.
Cardigan’s arts programs teach boys how to turn their ideas into something everyone around them can appreciate—through visual art, drama, and music!
Students create a variety of projects, from two-dimensional drawings to three-dimensional sculptures. Drawing, painting, printmaking, and ceramics are key components, with many mediums explored. Students work in a large, well-equipped studio under the direction of a trained and practicing artist. Projects emphasize art concepts that reinforce perception skills and hand/eye coordination, enabling the students to draw and translate their ideas into visual language. Emphasis is placed on the use of tools and materials for each project. Art history is also an integral part of the art curriculum. Artists’ styles are discussed and made pertinent to students’ artwork. All sixth graders take one term of art. Students in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades elect to take a term of art or woodworking.
The Drama Program
The Drama Program at Cardigan is designed to give boys a first experience in various aspects of theater. The school boasts an exceptional theater facility in its 230-seat auditorium with a full proscenium stage, sound, and lighting equipment. The department mounts four productions a year: a series of one-act plays, the annual Christmas Pageant, a full-length play/musical, and scenes from plays during the spring term talent show. Boys are given opportunities to act, serve backstage, learn to work lights and sound, build and decorate sets, produce, and, in some cases, direct. During the nights of performance, the student stage managers and student technical staff run the entire show. The audition process gives boys an excellent opportunity to learn the skills required to get a part.
Recent productions have included Flight of the Lawnchair Man, Stalag 17, An Evening of Plays: Canned Hamlet, Laffin’ School Reunion, and Bigger Than Life, This Is a Test, Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, Charlie’s Aunt, Mr. Roberts, Teahouse of the August Moon, The Odd Couple, Knights of the Rad Table, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Prince and the Pauper, and monologues reflecting life at Cardigan. Drama is an extracurricular activity. Rehearsals are typically held in the late afternoon, after sports and before evening study hall (boys who would miss dinner due to rehearsal have their dinner in the theater). Each production is presented on two nights, the first for the School, and the second open to family and community members. In the past, over 45 percent of the boys in the School have participated in some aspect of this exciting program during a single school year.
Music is philosophy in the sense that it expresses truths about what it is to be human. Similarly, music is also history in that it can illuminate and teach us much about the society in which it was written. Through performance and the beginning study of genres, forms, and histories, this program provides the student with an understanding of some of the meanings in music that lie beneath the surface sound.
All Cardigan students take music for one term each year. Through the use of film clips and CDs, they learn about a variety of musical subjects, including the history of jazz, rock & roll, the American musical, and important “classical” composers that span the Baroque, classical, romantic, and twentieth-century periods. Worksheets, presentations, and/or poster projects are usually required, depending on the subject.
Sixth-grade and seventh-grade students will learn either the basics of playing the recorder, or the basic elements of music, along with the instruments of the orchestra. Sections with larger class sizes will occasionally perform on the hand chimes in Chapel services throughout the year.