Thespians set to return to the theater stage

By Rachel Davis and Maggie O'Hara

Students in the 2021-22 school year have faced more than the usual amount of surprises in comparison to any other regular school year. With students adjusting to being in person during a pandemic along with ever-changing COVID regulations, it’s inevitable for classrooms and clubs alike to be affected by sudden changes. Among these extracurriculars has been the drama department, who with the new production of Ken Ludwig’s “Midsummer/Jersey” has had to relearn everything it takes to put on a show in the midst of a pandemic.

The play was originally set to be performed on Jan. 28 and 29, but was postponed due to concerns around the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 at public events. As the production would involve actors interacting with each other without masks and an audience indoors in the theater, it was decided that it’d be best for everyone’s safety if it was changed to a later date.

“The play was postponed back when the district suspended the activities buses due to the then-recent upsurge of omicron,” junior Tristan Harmon, an actor in the production, said.

The current performance dates are Feb. 18 and 19, a Friday and Saturday.

“Midsummer/Jersey” is the first production the theater program has put on since the start of the 2021-22 school year with implementing current COVID regulations, and the process leading up to the performance has changed thanks to COVID regulations.

Over the past couple of school years, COVID has posed many problems for the program.

“The production ‘Rumors’ was planned to take place in the second semester of the 2019-20 school year and was canceled due to morale being so ridiculously low when the pandemic started,” Harmon said.

During the 2020-21 school year, the program had both completely online and in-person plays. While an improvement from the prior year, there were still challenges.

“‘Bad Auditions by Bad Actors’ was our first in-person play coming out of COVID,” Harmon said. 

With the nature of hybrid learning during the spring, it was difficult to have everyone together for rehearsal at the same time. As a result, the actors didn’t get the same experience as those in years past.

“We would have to have people practicing scenes on some days and some practicing on others, and some were 100% online until the last week before the performance,” Harmon said.

On top of that, it was a challenge to have the same level of organization as previous years with such unpredictable circumstances and low student morale in general.

“There wasn’t really a process last year,” senior Anabelle Sumera-Decoret said. “It was more of, ‘if you want to be part of the play, just show up to the Zoom meeting, learn your part, and perform it when we record.’”

This school year, COVID has still proven to be a challenge. While participation is higher and it feels closer to a normal year, people in the production have had to stay home, and the play was postponed.

“Sometimes we’d have to skip practicing scenes some days because person a, b and/or c are either out with COVID or had a COVID exposure,” Harmon said.

The majority of students in the program also haven’t gotten the experience of being in person in theater at Terrace before, and bouncing back after the year online has been challenging. The newer students have limited experience, and the older members have their own obligations that may limit the time they can dedicate to the program.

However, the majority of the cast members are working hard and do have a passion for the production, so I trust that they’ll put on a great show.”

— Anabelle Sumera-Decoret

“It’s rough getting people back on track, especially when 90% of the program is now made up of new students who hadn’t experienced the program the same way I did in my underclassmen years,” Sumera-Decoret said. “However, the majority of the cast members are working hard and do have a passion for the production, so I trust that they’ll put on a great show.”

Despite all of the hardships COVID has caused, the actors are still optimistic and enthusiastic for the prospect of being back to a somewhat-normal routine. Not only did the online year make motivation difficult in classes, but it also made clubs and extracurriculars almost obsolete, especially struggling with consistent participation. Being back in-person, that participation has significantly improved, and students are excited to get the chance to give it their all.

“It feels great to have normal rehearsals again and having the entire cast at the theater at one time,” Harmon said.

Sumera-Decoret, who has been with the program since her freshman year, felt the same way.

“It’s wonderful to be back in the theater. Putting on virtual productions just isn’t the same, and getting to connect with scene partners in person and be moving with our entire bodies is something I miss a lot,” she said.

While the play being postponed definitely wasn’t ideal, the theater program has taken advantage of the extra time to perfect their performance.

“We’ve been working hard to make it until the blocking and tech shenanigans are completely set,” Harmon said. “We have been doing a couple things, however I can’t exactly say what they are as they’d ruin the surprise!”