Conservatory for the Arts
About the Conservatory

Theatre students learn that smiling for the camera is harder than it seems

“Chin up a little bit...good, good. Now look into the camera and now tell me an amazing secret with your eyes,” theatre teacher Andrea Sweeney ’12 told her student. “Relax your jaw... Ah! These are so good!”
As she gave step-by-step instructions, photographer Max Aria snapped away, shooting each Theatre Conservatory student like a professional actor. The lesson was designed to give the girls a real-world experience of what it feels like to perform in front of a camera. In addition, each student will be given industry-standard headshots—an essential tool for every actor.

Ms. Sweeney, a Mayfield alumna and professional actor, is taking the stage again at Mayfield. But this time she is at the head of the classroom as our Theatre Conservatory instructor. As the first month of school unfolds, she is guiding our young actors to approach their craft with professionalism and passion.

“The goal on stage is to be as organic as possible and still able to deliver that to the back row,” she said at the photo shoot. “When you are taking pictures, it helps to visualize a situation. Think ‘Oh! We are getting a puppy.’ ”

Such a mental state allows an actor to more deeply feel and share an experience, she said. “And that’s what the audience connects to.”

Posing for photos is like doing a monologue or a scene on stage, she said. “But the camera is much closer, much more intimate. This closeness calls on actors “to show their true essence…we can more easily tell when someone is putting on an act. It is communication that should come from within.”

Theatre Conservatory students are also working on audition technique, drafting professional quality resumes, and compiling a book of monologues and songs.

“We are also building a solid theatre vocabulary as a class that allows them to have structure in their art and repeat an experience on stage,” Ms. Sweeney said. “I treat them like professionals because that allows them to know that's what they are.”

These early classes are foundational precursors to first production of the year, The Miracle Worker, which will be co-produced by Theatre Conservatory and Technical Theatre Conservatory.

Save the date: November 8, 9,10 and 11.

We know they will all be ready for their close-up!  
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 21 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.