One of the very first courses any theater kid at Concord Academy will take is Introduction to Theater, also known as Theater 1. Taught by Shelley Bolman, the course focuses on improvisational work, with students engaging in a variety of games and skits throughout the semester. The class is meant to help develop students' confidence and creativity, as well as their ability to collaborate and work with their peers. It is an entertaining and fun course that gives students a rest from the rigorous academic work and allows them to experiment with their acting skills.

At the beginning of the semester, students began each class with an exercise called “goalie.” Every member of the class takes a turn coming up with a sentence or two. They then say these to the designated “goalie,” who then has to build an improvisational scene based on the sentence. In recent weeks, the class has shifted to beginning the 70-minute block with a “dance party.” One member of the class chooses a song and stands in the middle of the circle dancing. Everyone surrounding them then has to, to the best of their ability, copy what the leader is doing.

After these activities, students shift to play a variety of games and act out skits. One that the class often focuses on is “plateaus.” In a plateau, the students of the class are given a topic at random, such as “bedtime” or “Halloween.” The group then has to create a still picture of the scene using their bodies. For example, for the prompt “bedtime,” students may be seen lying on the floor, pretending to read, playing on their phones, or sleeping. The rest of the class then guesses what the prompt is before taking their turn creating their own still scene.

Recently, the class has moved away from focusing on still scenes to working with improvisational live scenes. The class acts out prompts such as being trapped in a space, a bank robbery, or a power outage. This creates a fun, lighthearted environment. Students are free to try new things and experiment with their acting as they learn new skills. Theater 1 is very much a pause in the academic day to have fun, experiment with acting, and bond with classmates. Students can step out of their comfort zone and try new things while improving their acting and improvisational skills!