A cherished, longstanding Ashley Hall tradition, The Christmas Play assumed a digital format for its 2020 production in response to pandemic safety concerns. Against the backdrop of new technology, creative staging, and the need for the cast to socially distance, one thing remained clear: the love for this shared generational experience runs deep.
“This year we reimagined The Christmas Play in order to adhere to public health and safety protocols, and the spirit of this Ashley Hall tradition came to life in an entirely new way. Filmed outdoors on campus, the play allowed us to take full advantage of our cherished Senior Lawn as well as the Bear Cave, which served as the perfect backdrop for the Holy Tableaux.” —Head of School Jill Muti
Ask any alumna to name her favorite Ashley Hall memories, and The Christmas Play makes the list more often than not. Now in its 97th year, the annual performance is nearly as old as the School itself and draws together generations of graduates who relish memories of assuming roles of angels, shepherds, and jesters, reciting time-worn lines, and singing a repertoire that embodies the holiday season.
“The fact that you can reconnect so well with your Ashley Hall experience through watching the play makes it so special,” said Assistant Head of School and Upper School Director Anne Weston ’73, who treasures many fond memories of watching and performing in the play. “This year we worked hard to preserve the tradition of The Christmas Play in the face of challenging conditions.”
Historically, the logistics of The Christmas Play have adapted through the years to allow for location changes and staging demands, and the digital version represents the latest of these transformations. While the medium of delivery may change, it is reassuring to know the essence of this beloved tradition remains very much the same.
View the 2020 Christmas Play
The Christmas Play Alumnae Telegrams
Another special Ashley Hall tradition is the sending of alumnae “telegrams.” Each year, alumnae cast members of The Christmas Play share warm wishes with members of the current cast. Filled with fun memories and loving support, these “telegrams” offer a glimpse into the special bond our alumnae have to their School and each other. Happy reading!
Read the Alumnae Christmas Play Telegrams
Screenagers, the Next Chapter:
Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience
October 21 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Davies Auditorium
Open to all Ashley Hall families, both parents and students, and the Charleston community. Especially relevant for students in grades 7 and above and their parents. Parking is available in the Smith Street lot, which is accessed via Warren Street. Please enter campus through the Smith Street gate.
Free of charge, but reservations are requested.
October 24 | 8:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. | Burges Auditorium
Open to Ashley Hall parents only. Especially relevant for parents of students in grades 7 and above. Due to limit campus parking during the school day, parking is available at J. Henry Stuhr Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street.
Free of charge, but reservations are requested.
Watch Screenagers Video Trailer
From the director of Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age comes Screenagers, The Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience, a film about helping young people thrive in our screen and stress-filled world.
Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston uses a personal lens and professional eye to help parents flip the script on stress, anxiety, and depression. We follow Ruston as she suddenly finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. Ruston sets out to uncover how we understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society.She also explores how we as parents and schools empower teens with skills to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.
The film is intended for parents and students starting from age 10 and up. As with Screenagers, this new documentary is all about creating events in which people come together, watch the film, discuss the takeaways, and make plans for moving forward to further its impact.
Some of the featured experts in the film include the following:
- Daniel Pine, M.D., chief psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health
- Dan Siegel, M.D., director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA
- Drs. John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute
- Laura Kastner, Ph.D., psychologist, and author of Wise-Minded Parenting
- Ned Johnson, co-author of The Self-Driven Child
- Adriana Galvan, Ph.D., Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience UCLA
The ability of dance to stir emotions and build connections was evident during this year’s first performance of The Caterpillar Thriller, an original story-in-dance featuring dancers from second through sixth grades. Written and staged by Lower School faculty member Stephanie Christensen, The Caterpillar Thriller presents a powerful message that “being odd’s not bad” and if we remain true to who we are, we will ultimately find others who are just like us.
Students, parents, faculty, and staff were enchanted by the heart-warming story of a little caterpillar’s journey to grow into her true self and discover her own place within the world. Gorgeous costumes and lively music created the perfect atmosphere for a captivating display of dance. An Ashley Hall favorite, The Caterpillar Thriller has been performed on campus on two previous occasions to capacity audiences. You do not want to miss this year’s memorable performance! Future showtimes are May 17 at 7:00pm and May 19 at 3:00pm in Davies Auditorium. Each performance is free, with RSVPs requested. Online RSVPs are now closed, so please arrive early to the performances to ensure your spot. To learn more about the Lower School, click on the button below.
The Lower School at Ashley Hall
Attendees of this year’s String Fling at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul weren’t prepared for the heartwarming and emotional program that unfolded. In addition to performances by the Kindergarten and Pre-First Strings as well as the Lower School Orchestra and Fifth through Eighth Grade Orchestra, Upper School students played a superb rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody and selections from the Lion King. Interspersed between the music selections, sixth graders served as emcees.
Particularly inspiring in their performance was the Senior String Quartet, and senior Loulou Byars gave a moving presentation to Head of School Jill Muti. As Byars said, “Fourteen years ago Mrs. Muti arrived at Ashley Hall and quickly became an important part of our family. The following year, the Class of 2018 entered kindergarten, and Mrs. Muti implemented the new strings program, a program that has had an immense impact upon my own life and the lives of countless others in the Ashley Hall community.”
Afterward, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church as Performing Arts Chair Liz Dinwiddie and the Upper School Chamber Ensemble played for the four graduating seniors of the Senior String Quartet. These girls have been a part of something special that Mrs. Muti started fourteen years ago and represent the limitless possibilities for everyone at Ashley Hall. PQV!
With the weather getting warmer, nothing sounds better than a nice, cool swim, but Ashley Hall wants students to always keep safety at the forefront. This week, faculty members Maggie Laney and Missee Fox have been emphasizing safety tips to remember with Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade students. A year-round effort, water safety instruction begins in the fall and incorporates activities to encourage confidence in the water and build life-saving skills, including treading water for 5 minutes, swimming in clothes, and survival floating. Today, Lower School faculty member Kendall Lee’s fourth grade class practiced retrieving distressed swimmers with rescue tubes. Keep up the great work girls!
THE CATERPILLAR THRILLER
written and directed by faculty member, Stephanie Christensen
featuring dancers from 2nd through 6th grades
The Caterpillar Thriller reminds us that “being odd’s not bad”—that one creature’s being different from others doesn’t justify its being abused and treated as an outcast. Further, the story advises that hard as it is sometimes to do so, if we remain true to who we are, we will ultimately find others who are like us.
An Ashley Hall favorite, The Caterpillar Thriller has been performed on campus on two previous occasions to capacity audiences. They were as astounded and moved by the dancers’ wonderful performances as they were by the heart-warming, original story-in-dance itself. Don’t miss it!