Updated: Jul 4, 2021
As some of you may know, there have been multiple theater projects in the making over this past year. But what should you expect in the near future? In this series, we will let you know about the upcoming theater events to look out for, as well as some details about the entire experience from multiple perspectives. In the first part of this series, we will discuss the fall play: how it was created, what we did during rehearsal, and some thoughts from our actors and our very own Mr. A.
What really happened over the course of several weeks it took to put together the fall play? In order to give you a view of the full impact of COVID on our theater community, we need to go back to the beginning of the year. Because of COVID, we had to sacrifice our stage for additional classrooms. If you haven’t gotten the chance to see the theater, both the stage and the theater have been converted into multi-purpose classrooms, and Mr. A has found a new home in the admissions office. Due to this and other social-distancing regulations, we are unable to put on any live performances. We also no longer have the wonderful Mr. Gasteyer, as he is working with the middle school at Beckerman. So, we have had to adapt. Mr. A decided to make the best out of the situation we were faced with. He helped us write, produce, and film an entire play from beginning to end. We combined all of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences revolving around being a high school student in 2020 to create a story about different high school students going through their year. We also produced multiple skits, products, and commercials, to act as comic relief between some scenes that may contain more deep and real subjects that we hope some of you can relate to. Some of the themes we talked about included COVID, the LGBTQ community, family relations, and we tried to encapsulate these ideas surrounding typical teenage emotions (fitting in, self-discovery…).
The process consisted of a variety of workshops, from brainstorming COVID products that would be funny and entertaining to playing theater games to stimulate ideas. There were some days where we sat down and talked about what was on our minds. “It was less about the final product and more about giving everyone a creative outlet for people to express themselves, which is needed in a time like this,” Mr. A explained. Most, if not all, of our storyline, came from sitting together and having conversations. From a personal standpoint, it has helped me think through stresses and events that were happening in my life, as well as things going on in the rest of the world.
Next came the filming process, which was drastically different from the typical Hamden Hall onstage performances. This happened over the process of a few weeks and consisted of multiple takes with phones, tripods, and lights. Though it was nothing like the adrenaline rush of going out on stage, it was nice to have the ability to refilm multiple takes. Costuming came straight out of students’ closets, and not having Jo with us took away from the community aspect of theater. Hopefully we can welcome her back next year.
The current project stands with Mr. A, who is heroically sifting through hours of video clips and preparing it for your eyes. I spoke with some people from the cast, including John Echeverria, who is making his first acting debut through Hamden Hall cameras. This is his second and final year at Hamden Hall, and he has done some backstage work, but has never had a role onstage. He explained that he always expected to break out in laughter in attempts to fully immerse himself into his character, and while that statement had some truth to it, he exceeded those expectations. “I found myself getting caught up in making sure I was doing the best I could, even if it was only a couple of lines, which I didn’t expect.” Upon asking him what he wanted people to know, he said, “So many people’s personal experiences have been implemented into the story and it really makes the whole production more magical knowing that.”
I also spoke with Callie Silvey, who is no stranger to the stage. Not only has she been involved in Hamden Hall productions for five years, doing everything from acting to stage managing, she has also done some acting in her free time. She has been taking it a step further with her classes as well. In addition to the production of ‘Night, Mother by Marsha Norman that she has been preparing, she has also been exploring the connection between theater and mental health in her positive psychology class. I will be going into further detail with these projects, so stay tuned! In terms of the play, it was definitely an adjustment, but not necessarily a bad one. “Just [being] able to do something was really nice. With school, particularly online classes, it can be hard doing the same thing over and over again, and this was a place where you could let stresses go and be yourself for a little while,” she explained. Callie also did some behind the scenes work with Anisha Moran, where they captured some behind-the-scenes clips.
The final product will be available to watch around the same time as Mayfest, which is coming out soon. Please go support all of the work that the theater has put into the production, and we hope you enjoy!