By: Jeffery Xiang — Editor-in-Chief
The Sharon High School Theater Company will live stream a virtual performance of the play Check Please this upcoming March.
Due to Covid restrictions, the Theater Company has held auditions and rehearsals online. The Company has also had changes in adult leadership, bringing in Mr. Eric Langmeyer as the new artistic director.
Early on, the Company decided that it would continue telling stories and learning their craft. “I did not want to sit on the sidelines while others figure out what theater will look like in a post-Coronavirus world. Our zoom meetings are not an obstacle in my view. We can all still create, inspire, and make an impact on Zoom as we would in a rehearsal room,” said Langmeyer.
After hosting a play reading committee, the Company decided on Check Please, the most produced high school comedy in the US. The play takes a playful look at the pitfalls and peculiarities of blind dating, set against the backdrop of Zoom dating during a pandemic. Langmeyer adds that Check Please fit the current situation well as “comedy is the ultimate panacea right now to our Covid woes.”
The new audition process on Zoom involved a series of virtual cold readings, monologue presentations, and improv workshops. Langmeyer says the goal was to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for students to want to perform in and, in the end, everyone was cast. “I turned to my improv training and encouraged everyone to come on board with a ‘Yes And Attitude.’ A ‘yes’ buys time, enables us to see more options, and builds rapport,” he added.
Senior Amanda Berenson says that one benefit of the remote setting is being able to have workshops run by professionals in the industry. “For me specifically, participating as an actor in a remote show sounded challenging in terms of zoom fatigue, but I’ve definitely found a creative outlet in planning some workshops and I’m super excited about them,” said Berenson.
Senior Brooke Janson says that the Company has also engaged in fun Zooms, trivia, Q&As, and other bonding activities. “Langmeyer remains positive during these trying times, which is very refreshing,” she added.
On the more technical side of things, senior Matt Coughlin, who serves as the Company manager, says that he still performs the same responsibilities as before but just online. But, he says “not having technical elements to deal with is a major change since I used to spend a large portion of my time working with different production departments and getting those elements ready to integrate into the show.”
Ultimately, those in the Company are grateful for the opportunity to continue participating in theater and retain a positive outlook as the Company has triumphed through obstacles before.
Berenson says that she thinks the year will be different but not necessarily bad. “We knew that if we tried to make it the same as every other year, we would fail, so the key to making it a great year was embracing that it would be different. I think the direction we’re headed in is going to work well,” said Berenson.
She says that this being her senior year makes it special too. “Being a senior it’s been bittersweet knowing that we won’t get the same type of year that seniors in the past got. We came up with the idea of workshops with seniors in mind, because some of us are going into that field and wanted extra opportunities to learn about traditional theatre that we weren’t going to get from the remote theatre process this year,” said Berenson.
Berenson says that one of the major challenges this year is figuring out how to give juniors more responsibility so that they can lead the Company in the future. “Figuring out how to preserve the company and pass it down to be in good shape next year has been a big priority for seniors,” added Berenson.
Following the performance of Check Please, the Company plans on performing another show in the spring, which is still in the works.