Plays should count as art

By Claire Goldsmith

Flipping through the course catalog, I circled several electives that intrigued me, only to realize I couldn’t take any of them because I was required to take an art class. I admit I could have done it this year, but that would have meant giving up Chronicle or not fulfilling my PE requirement.

The University of California requires a “yearlong course of visual and performing arts, chosen from the following: dance, drama/theater, music or visual art.” Harvard-Westlake currently allows students to take two non-consecutive semesters of art to fulfill the requirement, so why couldn’t it be broken into trimesters as well? If trimesters of sports practice can count towards PE requirement, trimesters of extracurricular arts deserve the same status.

Students who participate in plays, pit orchestra and other arts events spend as much time rehearsing after school as an athlete would practicing during his trimester-long season. Preparations can take up to three months, including daily afterschool and occasional weekend rehearsals.

While I enjoyed acting in the Playwright’s Festival, my play involved countless hours of rehearsal. In addition to blocking out scenes with the cast, actors put in time memorizing lines and finding costumes. This time investment makes for an excellent production, but participants deserve to have their contributions recognized as part of the arts requirement.

Say you take a full-year art class that meets four out of five days per cycle, amounting to 99 hours of art. Or, say you’re in a musical that rehearses for two hours a day, four times per week, for 10 weeks total. Add weekend rehearsals and tech week and you’ve spent a total of 104 hours on this production.

You spent more time on your musical in three months than in your art class the entire year. Three productions would comprise 312 hours, over three times the arts demanded by the requirement. Participating in the arts should count towards one’s art requirement just as being on a sports team counts towards one’s athletic requirement.