Theater program adds safety methods such as plastic dividers and clear masks to prepare for upcoming show ‘Love/Sick’

During+third+period%2C+Lexi+Chadwick+and+Francis+Khuyag+perform+their+cold+read+Dec.+17+in+front+of+the+class+as+a+way+to+practice+their+acting+skills.+Photo+by+Trinity+Barker

During third period, Lexi Chadwick and Francis Khuyag perform their cold read Dec. 17 in front of the class as a way to practice their acting skills. Photo by Trinity Barker

During third period, Lexi Chadwick and Francis Khuyag perform their cold read Dec. 17 in front of the class as a way to practice their acting skills. Photo by Trinity Barker

Despite necessary changes based on COVID regulations for classrooms, the theater program found ways to perform and rehearse safely on stage. Mr. Joshua Ansley said he looks for different options for his theater students to enjoy the program the best they can while enforcing safety precautions.

“We can’t get this year back, and for me it was like, ‘I’m going to find a way.’ That’s just what we’re taught in theater, the show must go on. It’s a cliche, but it’s a thing and it’s very real. I just don’t have it in me to just sit back and hope that things will just get better. The other thing is, I specifically chose this show because it’s just two people per scene so there’s never more than two people on stage at a time and so it’s very safe in that sense than it is in classes or sports.” Ansley said.

I specifically chose this show because it’s just two people per scene so there’s never more than two people on stage at a time and so it’s very safe in that sense than it is in classes or sports.”

— Joshua Ansley

As Ansley pushes to keep the theater experience as normal and safe as he can for his students, he decided to hold auditions for their play “Love/Sick” on Zoom. Performer Samara Frank found this auditioning method to be a safe way for her and her fellow actors to showcase their talents.

“I actually didn’t mind auditioning on Zoom because I had already become familiar through the distance learning period. It was kind of fun to feel comfortable in the space I was in. I think they were held well for the amount of limitations. Again, it’s a little difficult because there’s a lag in sound, but overall [it was] a good experience,” Frank said.

Those who earned a role in the upcoming play are faced with challenges as they figure out ways to rehearse and improve themselves for their parts. Though Jackson Lee had to adjust to  changes being made to the program due to COVID-19, he is grateful to be able to do one last performance.

“It has been difficult. We had to do rehearsals over Zoom for the beginning portion of the play and it has not been easy, but it was a learning experience. Getting back to in-person was so much better than online. It has made me feel a little sad considering this is my final year, but I’m glad I’ll be able to do it despite COVID,” Lee said.

As the theater program decides which of the options to use for the upcoming play, one decision that was made was that the play will be live streamed instead of having the show with a live audience at school. Performer Melia Lambert feels that not having a live audience will be the biggest difference for her and her fellow actors. 

 “I’m a little sad about not getting to perform in front of a live audience, especially for my family, because I feel that with theatre, the audience gives us motivation to perform better. But, I know that recording it allows everyone to watch and it’s the best thing to do right now,” Lambert said.

Though this show won’t have a live audience, the actors still plan to try their hardest in this year’s play as they have in their previous plays. Students like Madisen Ewing know how much work is put into each production, even more now with the current situation.

“You don’t realize how much work it is at first because when you see plays and you see those types of things you think it’s really cool how they know all the lines. It’s actually a lot harder because it takes a long time, and you actually have to connect with the person because if you are not connected with the person you’re playing it with, then it just kind of falls apart. Especially in this type of play where there are no minor roles, they’re all leads and every person is going to be shown,” Ewing said. 

Ansley said, “Jan. 21 is our opening night and it will go through the 30th. They have the option if they can’t see it live, they can watch it on-demand or be able to rent it for 48 hours. There will be a link up on the Whitney High School website to a site called Show Takes For You and there will be a link to that streaming service. It will [also] be on our Whitney theater site [and] I’ll have links also in my bio on Instagram @WhitneyHighTheater.”

by ASHLEY GRANADOS