Fall play to happen in midst of pandemic 


Photo by Renee Nieckula

The auditorium sits empty while the cast rehearses via Zoom.

Erin Fagan, Staff Writer

  While many other activities are being cancelled, the fall play “Cheaper By the Dozen” will be happening this year, but it will look a little different than it has in the past. 

  “It’s not a normal situation, and for us as directors to say it’s too difficult, forget it, we didn’t want to do that,” Cathryn Robinson, one of the directors of the play said. “We [the directors] thought about it a lot and talked and figured out what we could present to the school.” 

  The plan moving forward for fall play is to meet on Zoom to rehearse and run lines to ensure the safety of the students. 

  “The safety of our students is always my number one priority,” Katie Jeray, another director said. “We will be doing as much as we possibly can virtually and then putting necessary precautions in place for any in-person activity.” 

  There will be other precautions taken when students go in person for practices and the performance, including wearing masks onstage, social distancing, and cast members providing their own costumes and taking them home every day to wash them. 

  “Wearing a mask will maybe seem unnatural, but I am personally grateful that we can perform whatsoever, so I could care less about a mask,” senior Melissa Schmidt said. “We would also be using clear masks to still express facials and portray our character to the best of our abilities.”  

  The crew specifically will also be taking some extra precautions this year including a limited number of crew members, and alterations such as smaller sets and fewer props.

  “We usually have a large number of students that each play an integral role in developing the set, doing mic checks, running the spot light, etc., so it will definitely be challenging to get everything done with a smaller number,” Jeray said. “The students involved in crew are very dedicated though, so I believe they will be able to get everything done.”

   Performing the play will have to be different from previous years as the show will be recorded in January, streamed, and a link will be available to view it on the school website. 

  “We will have to do it in groups, we can only have so many people in the auditorium at a time,” Robinson said.

  If anyone becomes sick or anything happens that will make doing the show unsafe, the fall play may have to be performed at a later date.

  “Because we are not having a live audience, we can always move it; we do have a little flexibility,” Robinson said. 

   Many of the students participating in the fall play this year were surprised but excited that the play would be happening given the circumstances. 

  “When I learned that fall play was going to be happening this year, I was initially worried,” junior Anesa Nevzadi said. “I just couldn’t help thinking about how it was going to work. Would there be masks, would it be online, or worst of all, would it get cancelled? After some time, I tried to focus on the positives and now I’m just grateful I get to see my friends again and do something I love [acting] at the same time.”

  Senior Jordan McCully was shocked when she heard the fall play was happening this year, but was also excited. 

  “I think my mouth definitely dropped when I heard the news. I was just overcome with excitement and appreciation that we were able to still do fall play despite the circumstances,” McCully said. 

  Another change that occurred this year was auditioning virtually. Students sent in a one-minute video tape to the directors to cast the show.

  “I liked the virtual audition because I could pick my own monologue to perform, and retake the video if I messed up the first time,” McCully said. “But I would rather do an in-person audition because I feel like it is more sincere and genuine and feel more emotions when you recite the monologue in person.” 

  Other students also seemed to see the positives in doing a virtual audition as opposed to in-person. 

  “I thought that given the circumstances, the virtual audition process was a great alternative,” Nevzadi said. “I do miss the feeling of having jitters before my in-person auditions and hearing the low buzz of students running their lines in the auditorium. That said, I think I felt I had a better chance to express my individuality through the online medium because I had a longer time to speak.”

  With all of these changes, students did express some concerns they have about performing the show this year. 

  “I’m definitely concerned that first-timers will feel discouraged from doing fall play again next year because they aren’t getting the full experience,” Nevzadi said. “Other than the acting itself, the fall play consists of so much free time and bonding time.The social interaction behind the scenes is what makes fall play so inviting. I don’t want anyone to have a negative impression of the activity due to the circumstances we’re facing.”

  Rehearsals over Zoom may also be difficult for students, but they still are hopeful the show will come together nicely. 

  “I think it will be a bit challenging reading the script because it is over Zoom, and I don’t think it will be easy to establish those character connections virtually. But in the end, I’m sure it will come together great,” McCully said. 

  Another challenge the performers may face is the smaller sets and fewer props. 

  “I think our biggest challenge will be trying to create and set up the different scenes because we have very little sets and props, making it seem real,” McCully said. “But I have no doubt that we will come together and let our performances create the scenes without needing many sets and props.”

The absence of a live audience may also present a challenge to performers, but the cast is still going to give it their all despite these circumstances. 

  “I do think not having a live audience will calm down nerves, but being in the performing arts is all about the performance aspect,” Schmidt said. “It feels more genuine and gives a rush of adrenaline.” 

  Even with all these hindrances, the cast is still excited about the show for other aspects such as the memories created, and the camaraderie formed among them. 

  “I am most excited about the new friendships and inside jokes that are annually made, but also a different experience, given that we are in a pandemic,” Schmidt said. 

    Overall though, the goal of the three directors is to do the best they can this year with the given circumstances. 

  “Hopefully it [the play] will help make a few memories and some experience,” Robinson said.  “It’s not gonna be what it should be, but hopefully we will have some fun with it.”