Page One

Drama department needs to stay, so does Mr. Wiener

Wednesday March 27, 2002

We, the 27 undersigned Willard Middle School students, are deeply concerned about the Berkeley Unified School District’s plans to lay off Mr. Wiener, our drama teacher. Willard Middle School has had a drama program for many years. Drama is an exciting elective and has created a strong after school community, open to anyone who wants to be a part of it. It has been a place where one can make friends and interact with people of diverse minds, cultures and backgrounds. 

Unlike most sports teams, drama is not based around competition, but the want and need for every person to succeed to their highest potential. It is a place where you will receive support and help no matter what. The drama elective and after school program are both fund and challenging to the mind. Some people believe that drama is pure acting. However, it is a lot more. 

Every play was written in some period in time. The play reflects that time — how people spoke, how people acted and their basic way of life. In this way putting on a play is a history lesson in and of itself. We perform plays like those written by Gilbert & Sullivan. Many words used in those plays would only be found in books like Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. To truly act your part you must know what your lines mean and so we have our English lesson. 

When you perform your are putting yourself out to the audience. How you play your role, determines the audience’s opinion. In drama class you are learning to present yourself to crowds and large audiences. 

In drama class one gets to know people who otherwise you would have utterly no interaction with. These people have different feelings and strengths that when brought together in a group are very good for the Willard school community. Also, the after school drama program is a safe space to spend time in the afternoon away from places that could be hazardous or situations that would tempt you to do harmful things such as using drugs. 

Many children would not come to school at all if not for those few classes. Drama has always been one of these special classes. It is the fun motivation that makes you want to get up and come to school — the class that will encourage your mind and make you feel a part of a supportive group. 

At Willard all our plays are musicals. This means singing, acting and dancing. Our choreographed dances are energetic and teach us physical control and definitely give us lots of exercise — possibly more exercise that we get when we give our grudging effort in physical education. 

For all the reasons listed above, and many more, we want our wonderful drama teacher Mr. Wiener to be rehired come May and we want to be allowed to keep our incredible Willard drama department. 

We will be performing Pirates of Penzance May 16, 17 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. as well as a matinee performance on May 18 at 2:00. Ever practice is overshadowed by the realization that this play may well be our last. The Berkeley community cannot allow that to happen. Come see for yourself what a powerful program this is! 


Megan Covey, Erica Schapiro,  

Madeline Frunko, Paloma Salgado 

Hannah Michabells, Antanette Thompson 

Michelle Borch, Ashley Dearheart 

Arianna Williams, Esther R.S. 

Rosie Donlown-Elswood, Maricruz Martinez 

Allyssa Villanueva, Rose Young 

Kya Webb, Elom Early 

Abigail Aguirre, Diana Salem 

Anthony Love, Michaela Glaser 

Craig Smith, Melanie Ruffin 

Sophie Meryash, Dory Blair 

Marisa Floremi, Ariel Marek and Isabel Bram