On Stage and Off: Big, Bold Creative Choices

Performing in front of a supportive audience is an essential Westside School experience. Students gain confidence, artistic expression, and a feeling of great accomplishment that comes from working together to put on a performance. Westside's performing arts program begins in 5th grade. 


Acting: The Actor’s Toolbox

The Actor’s Toolbox teaches students techniques to succeed on stage, in front of the camera, or on video. Classes include guest speakers and end with a Student Showcase. Skills include:

  • Vocal techniques in projection and diction
  • Body Mechanics and Movement
  • Non-verbal acting
  • Stage combat
  • Character studies
  • Scene study with comedic dramatic and classical text. 


In Improvisation, students learn to work together and master the improv technique of “Yes… And”. The course ends with an Improv Showcase and includes: 

  • Creating scenes and dramatic moments without a script.
  • Exploring themes and challenging the actor’s intuition and instincts.
  • Using techniques from Chicago’s Second City Improv and Keith Johnstone’s Theatre Sports. 

Middle School Theater Club

At Westside, middle school students have the option to join the Middle School Theater Club, which puts on two productions each year. Using acting, singing, and dancing skills, students rehearse and perform as an ensemble for the Westside community. Students experience going through a full process, from the table read to curtain call. Past productions have included The Greatest Showman, Newsies, Ghostbusters, Dear Edwina, Annie Jr., and Mary Poppins. This is an afterschool program.


Dance is a combination of multiple forms of popular and classical dance. Students learn techniques and routines in Jazz, Modern, and Hip Hop by working with guest choreographers.

Technical Theater

In addition to performance skills, students gain experience in multiple facets of working backstage: stage management, assistant directing, set crew, sound, lighting, and creating props and costumes. Technical Theater students also run the musical, acting as stage crew, helping change costumes, and running the light and sound booths.