Shining and Reflecting: Theatre & the Dramatic Arts at MA

This fall, Moravian Academy welcomed Brooke Harrsch, Director of Theatre at the Merle-Smith Campus, and Rip Cantelmi, Director of Dramatic Arts at the Swain Campus. Get to know the faculty who have been leading our performing arts programs, guiding students as they learn to communicate effectively, lead with integrity, and strive for excellence.

About Ms. Harrsch

f1b95086-afd8-4b6a-9500-f701cc0d29eaMs. Brooke Harrsch (she/her) moved from northern New Jersey back to the Lehigh Valley to be fully-immersed in the MA Theatre Department. She is a DeSales University graduate, having obtained her BA in Theatre and Secondary Education. She has experiences in acting, directing, and casting both on stage, and on-screen. This past year, Brooke performed in a dream-role on stage with the Chatham Players, received various nominations for two short-films she starred in, and worked on a handful of television and film sets. In pursuing her own passions, she finds love in sharing her experiences and bringing those moments into the classroom.  

She teaches Intro to Theatre, Fundamentals, Acting Styles and Contemporary, as well as a co-taught The Plays of Shakespeare elective. 

Reflections from Ms. Harrsch

I believe theatre is a place for all. A place for acceptance, growth, and exploration. High school is challenging for so many reasons, and for me —theatre, and the community it gave me throughout high school, college and beyond—has been unmatched. I want students to have an outlet where they feel seen, feel heard, and feel like they belong. Every individual has something to offer, for no one is exactly the same, and that's the beauty. Theatre embraces differences and celebrates them. I celebrate them. 

For all the latest happenings, follow @matheatredirector on Instagram.

 About Mr. Cantelmi

DSC_1752A native son of the Lehigh Valley, Rip was born in Fountain Hill and attended Northampton Community College (AA), Temple University (BA) and The University of Connecticut (MFA). For the past five years, he has served as the Artistic Director of Theatre at The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. He has taught workshops at numerous colleges and has served on the adjunct faculty at Northampton Community College and Columbia College Chicago. As an actor, his work has been seen on various stages, screens and pages throughout the US. A drummer since the age of 12, Rip has appeared on 11 studio albums and is currently a member of the rock band, Secret Pint. 

Reflections from Mr. Cantelmi

Swain has been super so far! The community has been warm, welcoming and invested to deliver quality education every day I've been on campus. Philosophically, I believe in embracing discomfort and pushing students beyond their perceived limitations. I am also keenly interested in the expression of self within a given community. My goal is to create art that resonates within the unique group I'm working with. I recognize that the Dramatic Arts is like a mirror. Everything that can be reflected, should be reflected. In this sense, our artform is dependent on all representative groups to be involved in order to provide a legitimate, complete vision of our world. As with every class I teach, every production is governed by the unique identities that comprise it. Each rehearsal or class is an exploration of these identities and perspectives. 

Since Drama is a requirement for Kindergarten-grade 8 at Swain, every student has an opportunity to work in the Dramatic space, which ultimately benefits them in a myriad of ways including increased self awareness, confidence-building, empathy, time management, problem solving, flexibility and enhanced communication skills (among others). 

Performing Arts at the Historic Downtown Campus

On the HDC, we focus on empowering student voice through student-driven and devised work. This is consistent with our campus goal to "Empower students to be active participants in all aspects of their educational experience and support them to take action to improve their community." Opportunities include:

  • Middle School Spring Musical in partnership with Touchstone Theatre
  • Two Lower School Players productions annually
  • Improv Elective
  • "Pop up" and classroom performances of Shakespeare scenes 


Date Show Campus
Friday, March 8 | 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 9 | 7:00 PM
Annie Jr. Swain
Thursday, April 18 | 7:30 PM
Lower School Players Present "A Mother Goose & Other Stories" Historic Downtown
Thursday, April 25 | 6:30 PM
HDC Middle School Spring Drama Performance with Touchstone Theatre Historic Downtown
Friday, April 26 | 7:00 PM, Saturday, April 27 | 7:00 PM, Sunday, April 28 | 2:00 PM
MSC Spring Play: 12 Angry Jurors Merle-Smith


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