By Lynn Leissler
For the Independent
Ask Julia Cuppy about theater and she’s off and running. Cuppy is the drama teacher at EPHS, and fully in love with her job. But theater costs go beyond what most folks realize, and often beyond budget. Thus went the first annual Spaghetti Feed on April 11, Eighth Grade Orientation Night.
Over 100 students benefit from the program at EPHS (elementary and middle schools are involved every other year), and unlike sports, theater is not seasonal, but includes five productions of varying complexities over the school year. “To provide entertainment for our community can cost up to $15,000 or more per show,” says Julia. Productions are staged in an area at the high school that is not equipped with a permanent sound and lighting set up. The department has to rent that equipment. They also have to secure licenses for the productions, and while schools get a break, a musical can cost thousands of dollars for rights. Costumes constitute another cost, even with thrift store shopping.
When asked why drama is important, Julia Cuppy spoke without hesitation. “It’s not just entertainment. It is a vehicle to learn about life. As a teacher, I use everything we do in drama to teach life lessons that can transfer to any job. Some of the most essential skills to be a good employee are critical thinking, teamwork, trouble shooting, taking initiative. Drama teaches empathy, accountability.” She constantly makes this correlation for her students. “From audition to opening night the students go through all those life skills in a tangible way.”
The Educational Theatre Association backs her up with survey-generated data. Corporate executives and school superintendents agree that a college degree in the arts is significant; theatre activities develop creativity in students and improved language and memory skills; improved SAT scores; helps in math and science-related classes and careers; helps rescue at-risk 8th graders; and more.
Putting such theory into practice is what Cuppy does. And on April 11, folks will not only enjoy spaghetti, bread and salad, but a bit of music and entertainment. Remember the TV show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Drama students will engage in improv acting based on audience-generated scenarios.
Contributions of commercial spaghetti sauce, bread, and salad would be greatly appreciated. They can be dropped off by Wednesday at EPHS’s front office.
EPHS Drama Department Spaghetti Feed
Thursday, April 11, 5-6:00 PM
Tickets: $5.00 in advance (sold at EPHS front office)
$6.00 at the door
Family pack, $20 (for families of 5 or more)
All proceeds go directly to the Drama Department.