Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts
Manhattan NY 10036
Intensive focus on theater
Facility keeps enrollment very small
Located above the famed Town Hall in Manhattans theater district, Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts is a small school that seeks to inspire its students through the theater.
Unlike some schools that pay only glancing notice to their themes, the concentration on theater at Repertory runs deep. Students take an array of courses focusing on what happens on stage and behind the scenes. The school offers classes in writing, production and movement, as well as four years of music and four years of dance (which takes the place of physical education). The school has a space for theatrical productions and a dance studio--but no gym.
Repertory stages about nine productions throughout the year, including a school-wide drama and school-wide musical. For their exit project, all students create a theater piece that is then performed. The school has partnerships with arts organizations, such as Roundabout Theater Co., Manhattan School of Music, the New York City Opera and City Center. Students have competed in the August Wilson monologue contest, with some going on to the national finals.
Arts are the "carrot" to engage students in their academic subjects, school officials say. The school has good attendance and a high graduation rate, but has not had a top academic reputation in the past. Manuel Urea, who became principal in 2013, says he has focused on changing that. We try to offer the best performing-arts program in New York City, but we're all about college readiness," Urea says.
Repertory now has an honors program and gives some Advanced Placement classes. It requires that students do a research project every year. While academic selections are limited, it does offer chemistry and AP calculus, he said.
Because of Repertory's small size, teachers say they know every student and also develop connections with many of their families. In a video on the schools website, students spoke of the strong ties they had made at the school. To strengthen those connections, all students are assigned to a so-called Critical Friends Group that they stay with for their four years in the school.
Urea and an assistant principal both spoke of the enthusiasm of the students who stay at the school until 5 p.m. and beyond. We saw that enthusiasm in a dance teacher who took up teaching at Repertory after a career in musical theater, and, at a school fair, spoke animatedly about Repertory, its students and passion for the stage.
Because of its small size, Repertory does not have a dedicated college counselor. Many graduates go onto four-year college, including arts programs, staff members said.
Special education: Repertory has relatively few students with disabilities but says it will make accommodations to meet the needs of any who do enroll.
Admissions: Applicants must audition in the three performance fields: acting, music and dance. The school also considers test scores and a child's middle school record. "We're looking for potential and the desire of the child to pursue a rigorous program," Urea says. (Gail Robinson, September 2013, from interviews and online material)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Comprehensive study of theatre arts (acting, music and dance, as well as production and stagecraft)
Chinese (Cantonese), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, AP US History
Girls PSAL teams