Johnmichael P. Monteith

Photo taken in 2014 with my former KiMS students.

Middle school years combine mature critical thinking skills layered into a young mind that wants to try everything and Panther Playhouse is an after school student theatre company at Kirkland Middle School where the participants take ownership of every production. They start the school year with a musical performed on the Lake Washington High School stage. In the spring they gain control of additional production elements tackling an original adaptation of a Shakespeare play performed in the Kirkland Middle School commons.

We want our latent thespians to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits by introducing every aspect of creating a stage performance that there is time to explore. Since we regularly extend beyond our comfort zone we know mistakes will be made, but we also know this is the best way for students to learn and make the performance their own.

Every Kirkland Middle School student that wishes to participate is welcomed onto the stage, regardless of financial situation. The educational benefits of performance art extend into our audience so we permit students from all LWSD schools to attend our Shakespeare performances for free.

The time between auditions and opening night is over in just six weeks. Parents are involved throughout by chaperoning rehearsals and serving on a committee. We provide instructions and guidance so they do not need previous experience but the help of student family members is the bedrock of our success for every production.

At the end of every school year I tear up as another class moves on to high school. Fortunately, there is always another amazing group waiting to take their place and I hope that includes a middle school student from your family.

If you or the younger version of you has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.