Rolling Hills Prep is known for supporting "creative spirits" through the exploration of drama and the production of high-quality plays and musicals. Students enjoy the opportunity to build acting, playwriting, directing and design skills in theater courses and to expand and share those skills through four annual productions: the Upper School fall play, the 8th Grade play, an evening of one-acts directed by seniors, and the all-school spring musical.
The fall plays have included comedies and dramas, and students audition for speaking parts. Students also manage production and technical aspects of the shows and are an important part of the team.
In 2009, RHP's Fall Play - The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 - was awarded "Best Ensemble" by CETA (California Educational Theatre Association). The cast performed a scene from the show for more than 1,000 high school students in attendance at CETA's three-day theater festival. Eight actors also won awards for their individual performances and one student was awarded a college scholarship for his performance of two monologues.
The spring musical is open by audition to all students in the school, allowing students from middle and upper school to learn how to work together to produce a major musical. The spring musical is performed at San Pedro's historic Warner Grand Theatre.
In addition to performing, students also play a key role backstage. Technical Director Nancy Howe trains the tech crew in lighting and sound operation, set construction, and stage management. The tech crew runs each production and helps set up special events on campus.
Drama classes begin in 6th Grade, with improvisation games, story dramatizations and the performance of poetry. In 7th Grade students continue to develop their theater skills through exercises, reading dramatic scripts, and scene studies. The 8th Grade play gives every student the opportunity to experience the excitement of performing onstage.
In Upper School, students may take Theater I, II and II to develop acting, playwriting, directing and design skills. Through theater games and exercises, scene studies, the study of theater history, and viewing and discussing plays, students build creative thinking, teamwork and aesthetic analysis skills, as well as experience with creative expression. Upper School drama students select, cast and direct one-act comedy skits, which are performed to great applause by family and friends.