Performing Arts

There is a performer in everyone.

Our mission is to create opportunities that provide students with a positive experience across an array of performance disciplines. Students in every division should have a meaningful experience that prepares them for a future of participation in the performing arts.

"We encourage all students to develop an appreciation for the craft—from process to product—as an ephemeral art form that a student can enjoy in the classroom, on the stage, or from the audience. Growing from their gained appreciation, our students also learn to apply skills from this art form into numerous aspects of life."  Eva Kay Noone, theater teacher

Key Characteristics

Our instructional goals include building a foundation of skills that supports understanding and appreciation for the Performing Arts.

Music: Instrumental and Choral

  • Promoting music literacy
  • Developing technical skills
  • Helping students see value in artistry
  • Providing a variety of performance opportunities and venues, including plays, musicals, concerts and jazz festivals


Theater and Filmmaking

  • Exploring improvisation and acting styles
  • Writing scripts and screenplays
  • Understanding the history and philosophy of both documentary and narrative film
  • Using technical elements such as lights, sound, scenery and costumes to support live performance


Curricular Highlights

Ensembles. Performing artists at PC can participate in an array of ensembles like Jazz Band, String Ensemble and Boys and Girls A Cappella.

Showcase. Several times per semester, this intimate, student-run performance venue provides opportunities for students to share their creative work with peers.

Theater and filmmaking electives. Upper School students can hone their acting, directing, writing and producing skills with through our catalog of theater and filmmaking electives.

Physics of Sound. This interdisciplinary Upper School elective allows students to explore the science behind sound-making and create their own musical instruments in the IdeaLab.

"Anyone can get involved in the performing arts at Penn Charter. For some, it’s a breath of fresh air in an academically and athletically rigorous routine. For others, it’s the spark that awakens the inner artist and dares them to dream bigger." Nic Hanson OPC '13


Graduation Requirements

Students are required to take at least one semester of Performing Arts. Only courses labeled as “Advanced” and AP have prerequisites. All other classes are open to all students and do not require any previous skill or experience.

Course List

Music: All Year

Charter Singers


The goal of this organization is to provide students with an opportunity to participate in a balanced, blended choral ensemble. It will utilize extensive literature and opportunities for performance. Students are given individualized vocal training and study the voice’s relationship to the performing ensemble. Charter Singers will strive to provide the students with progressive experiences in singing, hearing and learning to understand a generous sample of the choral heritage, representing many periods, styles and languages. 

Please note: Quakers Dozen, a select vocal ensemble, is open by audition to students of above-average ability and interest in choral music. Students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible, but upperclassmen will be given priority in membership. This group can be used to fulfill the activity requirement. Prerequisite: concurrent participation in Charter Singers. Prerequisite: concurrent participation in Charter Singers. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Symphonic Band



This instrumental organization is open to students who have previously participated in the Middle School band or have a desire to play an instrument. Band members have the opportunity to continue to refine fundamental music skills and to perform in a variety of music styles. Students will develop an increase in self-discipline, a sense of responsibility and a feeling of pride and accomplishment as an individual and group member. Please note: Jazz Band is a select instrumental ensemble that can be used to fulfill an activity requirement. The purpose of this organization is to provide interested students with an opportunity to play the different styles of jazz music. Throughout the school year, this group will have the opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences. Prerequisite: concurrent participation in Symphonic Band. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Music: One Semester


MU931, MU932

Through independent and group study, this course teaches students the mechanics of song and lyric writing. Students learn to use their personal computer as a master tool in the creative process. Skills developed include mastering the GarageBand application, recording separate tracks, importing various media, lyric brainstorming, editing, recording vocals, and mixing. Finally, students investigate the various song markets, including pop music and rap music, to which students’ original songs can be submitted for publication. Limited to 12 students. In addition, a formal study of the music business is offered, which includes music production, record companies, talent management, music publishing, royalties, copyrights, distribution, and touring. The course will include visits to Penn Charter by industry professionals. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

History of Rock and Roll

MU933, MU934


This course explores the complex creative processes that have allowed rock music to endure as a living art, fed from sources deep within nonconformist, anti-mainstream, multiethnic American culture. From the blues and gospel to reggae, punk, grunge, and rap the emphasis is on the social/political environment of the fifties, sixties, and seventies featuring a comparison of styles, forms, writers, and groups, while researching the artists’ personal lives and careers. Additionally, a formal study of the music business is offered, which includes music production, record companies, songwriting, talent management, music publishing, royalties, copyrights, distribution, and touring. The course will include visits to Penn Charter by industry professionals. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

The Physics of Sound


This course is for students with a love of music and an interest in studying the science behind music. During this class, we will learn the physics behind the creation of sound by various instruments and then use this knowledge to design and build our own instruments. We will also study the fundamentals of music theory and use this to compose music to play on the instruments we have created. This course can be used to satisfy the graduation requirement for Performing Arts. (11th and 12th grades)


Public Speaking

T915, T916

The purpose of this course is to help students become more adept at speaking in public and giving presentations. People use more than the voice to communicate their ideas effectively. Other modes of communication that we will take into consideration include: facial expressions, body language, word choice, and adapting to your audience. In addition, students have a variety of technologies to assist in their oral presentations, but few know how to use them properly. In this course, students will have three speeches to complete: demonstration speech, persuasive speech with technology, and a welcome/introduction speech. Students will be able to take risks in a safe rehearsal environment involving individual and group critique and self-reflection in order to improve their  presentations for this class and for the future. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Acting and Directing for the Stage

T925, T926

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an actor or director for a show and think you might want to give it a try yourself? This course will bring together students who have an interest in learning about acting and/or directing while exposing them to the various ways that a script can be brought to life in performance. We will explore the role and responsibilities of a director as well as learn basic acting techniques through classroom exercises, assignments, observations and critiques. In addition, this course will help students understand the process of reading and analyzing a script, conceiving a vision, and communicating it to the actors and the audience. As a final project, students will either perform in or direct a scene with a cast of their peers. (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades)

Costume Design


This course is for students interested in the art, history and practice of costume design. Line, form, color, scale, texture, pattern, period costumes, functionality on stage, and the effects of stage lighting on fabric will be explored. Students will learn basic hand and machine sewing stitches and techniques, which can be applied to their daily lives. Students will research, design and build a costume for a character of her or his choice. No prior experience with fashion design, sewing or figure drawing is necessary – just a love of fashion and clothes from different periods and cultures with a passion to create art that is worn on stage.

Documentary Film


Documentary filmmaking will introduce students to the world of cinematic nonfiction storytelling. Students will make films with topics of their own choosing centering on real-life stories and events while exploring sub-genres such as biography, current events, and history. Students will learn production planning, archival research, storyboarding, lighting, editing styles and techniques (such as Ken Burns), and the use of B-roll footage. They will also explore interview techniques, text as narration, and voiceovers. Looking at the tradition of documentary photography at various points during the course will aid students and inform their own work. Occasionally, they will also analyze and critique important documentary films to deepen their understanding of the field, and expand their creative work. Students will have opportunities to present their concepts and plans for feedback and review. In addition, they will present work in progress, as well as finished films, for class critique. A full range of equipment is available to students. Students who request the advanced designation of this class must have worked in the media before and have prior approval by the instructor. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Actors, Singers, Rappers & Poets


Bruno Mars, Lin Manuel Miranda, Ariana Grande, Hugh Jackman. What do they have in common? They started by practicing their craft in a classroom.  This class welcomes any aspiring actor, singer rapper or poet (from novice to experienced) who desires who desires to perform or get over stage fright. Throughout the semester, students will analyze, interpret, rehearse and present monologues, scenes, poems, songs and/or rap in a safe and supportive environment. During the process, students will strengthen their confidence, poise, and public speaking/singing abilities as they develop an awareness of the voice and body, while expanding their creativity and imagination. These skills will help develop the student’s stage presence, but can also be used outside the classroom. In addition to working on material the student may already be familiar with, the teacher will assist the student step out of their comfort zone and explore new material. This class is not just for the actor, as it would benefit any student who desires to perform better in front of an audience. Prior experience on stage is not necessary, but performance is required as a part of this class. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Racism, Sexism & Other "-Isms" in Film


Is the director’s intention to inform, incite or entertain? That will be the groundwork for our discussions in this course. Students will view clips from films throughout the ages, both commercial and independent. They will see how society has affected film and how film has affected society. What has changed for the better or the worse since the beginning of film as an art form? What role do race, gender, religion and sexual orientation play in the way a film is made? If a film is adapted from a book, is material edited out so as not to offend the mass audience and protect society or to make sure there is more revenue from the box office? In addition to regular forms of assessment and a powerpoint presentation, students will be expected to present a clip from a film and then discuss its impact on themselves as well as society in general. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Sketch Comedy, Improvisation & Stand-Up



Improvisation, sketch comedy and stand-up is not just funny but also a way to make the public aware of controversial issues through the use of humor. This class lets the students develop material in the style of The Daily Show, SNL, Second City, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and other comedic influences. Students will collaborate in groups and individually to create material that is humorous, yet connects the audience to current events. Students will study comedians to understand how to create their own material. This class is not just for comedy enthusiasts, and stage experience is not necessary. This is a project-based course, and performance is required as a part of this class. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Theater from Around the World


In this survey course, students will choose a wide variety of creative projects to explore theatre’s early history through the lens of different cultures. From theater’s origins in Ancient Egypt and Greek tragedy to Indonesian shadow puppet plays and African ritual drama, students will read excerpts of scripts and then have the option to do a performance, visual arts or written project connected to the genre studied. Scripts will be analyzed based on the historical time period, culture, and religion and comparisons will be made across genres. This course provides one credit toward the Certificate of Global Studies.  (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)



This course invites students to make short films on cameras, iPhones and computers. Students will learn about production planning, storyboarding, directing, shooting, editing and design elements. This course includes both individual and collaborative work, digital media, critical viewing and active production. Students will present concepts, plans, storyboards and scripts for feedback and review, and then revise and present the finished films for class critique. Some of the projects include creating a commercial, a music video and a public service announcement. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)

Introduction to Theater


This course is a team-taught survey course meant to touch on a wide variety of theater topics from theater history to the performative and production arts. Students will have the opportunity to learn the technical systems in the Ball Theater by using the equipment. They will participate in improvisation and character exercises as a foundation to acting while also writing their own scripts. Project-based assessments, journaling, quizzes and performances will help students demonstrate what they have learned. (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades)