Theatre department rises to the occassion


Victoria Richter-Stewart

Students at a rehearsal for the upcoming show: Clue At Home Edition

Victoria Richter-Stewart, an OPRF senior, has never auditioned for a show virtually before. However, in these unprecedented times, that’s what the actress and many of her fellow actors and actresses have done this September. “It definitely felt weird,” she said. “It was more difficult because none of us really knew what to expect.” “It was harder to communicate between each other and the director.” Richter-Stewart found it harder to ask individual questions. “Clue: Stay At Home Version”, the First Quarter Little Theatre Show, will be the first OPRF production to be rehearsed and performed completely online.
Auditions for the production have recently been completed and rehearsals have begun. Director Michelle Bayer said, “The other teacher (Linda Burns) and I both said, ‘We really got to how see people are, even on Zoom, and how well they act, even on Zoom.’” This is, at least in part, because people use their eyes when acting. However, Bayer also identified some challenges with auditioning over the internet. “We act with our faces, and there still is the barrier of the screen with not being able to see the detail of somebody’s face perfectly.” “I don’t get to see as much of the interaction between actor to actor.”
About the rehearsal process, Bayer said, “The whole idea of a rehearsal process is to build (an) ensemble between the director and all the different crew, the production staff, and the cast, and I think it’s easier to do that when you’re in person. But we’re still going to do lots of things to try to build that ensemble, that relationship between all of us, even via Zoom.” These things can include warm-ups and activities for team building, she said.
Madeline Block, a junior on the show’s production staff, anticipates another issue with rehearsing and eventually performing. “I’m sure that we’ll have some technical difficulties. We’ve already, just in auditions, had problems with internet connection.”
Richter-Stewart has experienced issues including people being choppy and her computer freezing. They are trying to make sure that technical difficulties don’t cause issues during the show. “The immediate fix for now, during auditions, and for the first couple of rehearsals was turning off the video (if the audio wasn’t working correctly), but obviously that’s not really a viable option for the actual show.” Coming closer to Wi-Fi and using a computer other than the school Chromebook have been other suggested work-arounds.

People interested in seeing this production can expect an online performance. “This show actually is written for Zoom, it’s a Zoom version… they re-edited it to make it more of a Zoom-friendly version of the play.” The show does not include blocking, and it works on a screen. They can also anticipate a lower price than previous shows. “Normally, tickets would fund costumes and props and sets and all that stuff. This year, we’ve decided to reduce the price of tickets.” As opposed to the usual $6, tickets will cost $3 for Clue: Stay At Home Version. Even though the show will be performed virtually, Bayer says, “We are going to do some props and costumes, but not as many. So the department is kind of eating the cost of that, because we know we want to get a good audience, we want people to get into our theaters this season and make it easy for people to be part of it,” she said.
Instead of constructing stage equipment, the stage crew has a role online in the production of Clue: Stay At Home Version. “They’re going to be creating digitally virtual backdrops,” Mrs. Bayer said. “They’re also going to be creating the props that the cast is going to use, so all those typical Clue props… and then they’re going to be running the actual streaming of the show.”
The stage crew has some ideas for additional projects to run this year. Stage Crew Co-Sponsor Teslen Sadowski said, “We’re hoping to do a build fundraiser this year… we’re hoping that we can, in small groups, eventually build some planters or outdoor furniture for the community to purchase and then raise funds for crew and possibly be able to donate to a cause.”
“I think a lot of the kids are just excited that it’s still happening,” Mrs. Bayer said. “…most kids were really nervous that [the] school was gonna say ‘No, we can’t do it.’, and the decision by the school, the department, everything was ‘No, we are having a full season. It’s not going to look like our previous seasons, but we’re gonna have a full season… we have so many kids who major in theater, this year really hurts them if we don’t have these experiences,” Bayer said.
“I would rather it be in person, but that’s really not safe right now,” Block said. “I’m glad that we’ve found a way to make it work virtually.”
Richter-Stewart had a similar opinion. “I’m glad we got the best of the worst options and I’m really glad to still be able to participate in it for sure.”
You can see Richter-Stewart in “Clue: Stay at Home Edition” at 6pm on Oct. 23 and 24, through a Zoom presentation.