Haverford Drama Adapts to COVID-19

Actors+Kateri+Simmons+%28left%29+and+Roman+Fosco+%28right%29+film+a+scene+on+their+set+outside+Haverford+High+School.+

Allie Steele

Actors Kateri Simmons (left) and Roman Fosco (right) film a scene on their set outside Haverford High School.

Audrey Bucak and Joy Hyun

 
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Throughout 2020, the pandemic sent all types of school clubs scrambling to find the safest way to operate. Amidst waves of ever-changing safety recommendations coming from health authorities and school administration, club leaders faced countless decisions regarding how to best serve the students that love their activities. Haverford’s drama club is one of the most passionate groups in the school, and the students who participate pour everything they have into the two musicals they perform each year. After the unfortunate cancellation of last spring’s show, 9 to 5, the club was determined to produce something this fall. In spite of the challenges, the organization has been working harder than ever to put on this year’s virtual show, Past, Present, and Future. It will be premiering on the club’s YouTube channel, Haverford Drama, this Saturday, December 12, at 7:30 pm. 

Organizers decided that the fall show would be performed in the form of a showcase. Eileen O’Leary, one of the student directors, explained, “It will be a variety show featuring different scenes, songs, and dances from various plays and musicals. We are doing a little bit of everything from comedic scenes to dramatic ballads.” Small groups of club members were assigned to perform the various numbers, which will be compiled and presented to the general public in their upcoming virtual performance. 

Mikayla Pedanoleads rehearsal for a number outside Haverford High School
(Grace Shoemaker)

There have been many setbacks and struggles throughout the process of creating the show. When the rehearsals were beginning, groups were able to practice in person and were planning on recording together as well. However, the club’s leadership made the ultimate decision to move most of the group rehearsals to a completely virtual setting. This was a huge disappointment to the cast, but the groups continued to make the best of the situation through weekly meetings and good communication. Senior costume department member, Grace Shoemaker, explained that Haverford Drama hopes to give students “the opportunity to experience the behind the scenes of theater and to improve their skills in a fun way alongside their peers. Though the current situation makes the ‘alongside’ part a little difficult, we have continued to bring theater alive.” 

 However, despite all the hardships, there have been positive facets of this new type of fall show. The process of adaptation has also produced innovation. The club implemented the use of creative teams that advise production groups on how to best deal with the ever-changing situation. Will Marley, a sophomore tech liaison, believes that the teams have “exceeded expectations” and that “the more student-led creative approach allowed for more ideas to surface.”

Actors Bethany Jesse, Lydia Stavrakos, Cassidy Komar, and Lily Guidetti film their scene virtually. (Nate Drew)

The technical and costume departments have also been forced to change their procedures to accommodate this new structure. Marley explained that these departments “have in no way become any less essential. . .  . During the fall, the costume department still met to create and coordinate costumes for the casts of the various scenes. Then they distributed them to those that would need them at home. The Tech Crew has been meeting during the hybrid model in small groups to continue to create whatever is needed for the various scenes. Our set designers designed sets for each of the individual scenes; our carpentry and paints crews built and painted those sets; our props crew determined which props would be needed for each scene and either collected or built them to be distributed; our sound department members set up and recorded audio for each of the in-person scenes; and our videographers recorded and edited each scene individually to later be put into the overall product.” 

Life has looked very different this year, but Bella Monzo, a student director, ensured the Haverford community that “As always, Drama Club will blow you away with their talent in singing, acting, dancing, editing, and filming!” Grace Shoemaker said, “I have found it so beneficial to have the experience of working multiple different jobs within theater and think this opportunity should not stay just within this year. Also, the hard work and collaboration on everyone’s end has been so inspiring and special to be a part of.” 

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