Fall play Nov. 12/13

EFHS Drama Puts on a Socially Distanced Play
Posted on 11/11/2020
Picture of the Advertisement poster for the play





by Rozetta Locksa

On Thursday November 12th and Friday November 13th, the EFHS Drama Club will be putting on their fall play One Stoplight Town, but this show will be different from all the ones before it. Due to the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic, Drama Club’s only option is to put on a play that involves social distancing and wearing masks. Additionally, the audience will be limited to two guests for each cast and crew member that they invite. For anyone that is unable to attend, there will be a recorded version of the play released through YouTube on Saturday November 14th. The recording will only be available online until Sunday night. Anyone who is interested in watching it can email [email protected] for the link. Drama Club has decided not to charge for attending live or viewing the production online, play director Mrs. Tricia Schultz said.

“We are just excited to have the opportunity to create theatre in this strange and unsure time,” Mrs. Schultz said.

From start to finish this play has been met with unforeseen challenges, but according to Schultz and the stage manager, Molly Roberts, the cast and crew made the best of what they had.

“Since the start, every part of this production has been unique, from holding online auditions and starting online to rehearse the show through to creating physical movement that allows actors to stay socially distanced from one another while building relationships as characters in the story,” said Mrs. Schultz. “All of the students have risen so admirably to the challenges they have been thrown their way, actors and technicians alike. The students are getting to experience the same challenges and hurdles that all other theatre companies are experiencing now; and are having to learn creative ways to make our art happen in spite of our strange circumstances. This is actually a great experience for the students in what the reality of theatre is at this time, and they are really making it work.”

Molly added, “We've done more than half of our line read throughs over Microsoft Team meetings, which has been a challenge unto itself. However, everyone has been very flexible and open to the changes if it means that we get the opportunity to perform this semester. It truly is an amazing feat that we are able to put on such an amazing show for people this November, especially after everything that has happened so far in 2020.”

For the actors, wearing masks and keeping distanced on stage has been a challenge as it limits their performance. The actors said are more or less happy with the precautions, but they have accepted the safety procedures set in place and they understand the importance of them.

“Wearing a mask definitely makes it a little harder to perform at my best ability,” said actor Maribelle Hollmann. “It is harder to project my voice and enunciate. Facial expressions are also a huge part of acting, and not being able to see facial expressions, I feel like my character's emotions do not come across as well as they could. They are a little annoying sometimes and I wish we did not have to take these precautions, but I know they are for the best for the health and safety of our friends and peers.”

“Being in a play does require some hands-on work and it can be hard to social distance,” said actor Mackenzie Lees. “Also, projecting is difficult to do with masks. It can be difficult to force ourselves to slow down, enunciate, and project much more than normal. However, it is something we need to keep doing to keep each other safe.

In order to work around these difficulties, the actors have put in extra work to overcome them.

“As most people know, speaking through masks has been a problem both inside and outside of the school setting because of our reliance on lip reading during conversations,” said Molly. “Since that has been taken away from both the audience and the actors, it has been hard to understand what they are saying on stage. To combat this issue, we have been putting in extra efforts to emphasize enunciation and volume through fun exercises.”

Additionally, the precautions do not just affect the actors individually, it also affects the actors’ interactions with each other. Usually in a play the characters interact with each other physically, but to prevent the spread of COVID-19 they had to keep their distance. When asked about how the COVID precautions have affected the way the actors worked together, there were some differences in the responses.

“I do not think the limitations have negatively affected how the actors work together, but I definitely do notice and feel a difference,” said Maribelle. “Having to stay distanced, we cannot interact with each other as much as we would like to, and some of the character relationships aren't as strong as I feel they might be if we did not have these precautions.”

“No, I do not think this has negatively affected our cast's dynamic,” said Mackenzie. “In fact, I think it has brought us closer together. Online rehearsals were tough because it was hard not being able to act with the people in scenes. We all get super excited when we get to be in-person and we have all bonded very quickly.”

The EFHS Drama Club has the honor of being the first school to produce the play One Stoplight Town. It was written recently in a way so that it could be done without the actors getting too close to each other. Doing this play made it easier for everyone involved in the production to social distance.

“We are fortunate enough to be doing a play that had social distancing as one of the already scripted blocking options,” said Molly. “We've only had to make some minor changes that do not take away from the show in one way or another. I sincerely can't wait for people to see the effort that all the actors and technicians have put into making this show run as smoothly as possible. The play is incredible!”

No one knows when COVID-19 will end and life can go back to normal, but it is looking like precautions will continue on to the next year. Mrs. Schultz is planning to have a flexible winter show that will start auditioning in December.