Theater gets creative, remains positive

Varsity theater adapts to current restrictions and prepares for first show.

Senior Evan Janacek runs through his lines during rehearsals for the varsity theater production.

Katie Gerbasich, Staff Reporter

Last year, theater had its UIL, student-directed shows and JV shows all canceled due to COVID-19. Over the summer they had their auditions for advanced classes over Zoom. Students sat in waiting rooms and when it was their time slot they would then enter the “meeting” to perform their monologues with directors Abbey Fera and Jami Windham.

“I missed the kids,” Fera said. “In theater we spend so much time together, and to not have theater or creativity or fun or the shenanigans for six months was hard.”

Initially, theater arts was listed as a hybrid option where virtual students could come to school on their selected day only for their theater period. About 15 students had selected this option. Later, the policy was changed to where only varsity theater students could come to school and participate in the hybrid option. Only one student selected this option. The rest of the varsity theater class is in school face-to-face everyday.

“We were going to have to be creative but fine arts in general has more creative people so it’s possible,” Fera said.

“It’s just a realm of theater we aren’t used to, but you know we’ll make it work and we’ll have fun.

— Abbey Fera, director

In theater, Fera said it’s very important students receive feedback on their work. She’ll have her students do the background or character work at home then in class rehearse before submitting a video of the runthrough to receive feedback.

“It’s not immediate but it’s still feedback,” Fera said. “As long as they are up for the challenge and can work on things and I’m on the same page, it’ll be OK.”

Fera did a lot of research through Facebook and talking with other directors on how they could still keep their programs alive during COVID-19 restrictions. Although she never initially liked the concept, Fera decided a radio show would be best for varsity theater’s fall show. Then she had to find a radio show that fit her company. “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” is based on three murder mystery Hitchcock films. They will have people on stage talking into mics while using live sound effects.

“I think it’s a good fit for us, very different, very sound heavy, something that the kids haven’t really worked on or focused on,” Fera said. “It’s not just pushing a button and hearing something that is electric and already made for you. There is someone literally in front of a mic making a heartbeat sound. It’s something different but it’s pretty cool.”

Senior Jordan Hale, who has been in the theater program for four years, was looking forward to competing in UIL last year and doing their main stage show this year. Now, the best and most challenging thing to her is trying to create and mix her characters.

“The most memorable thing is being able to celebrate every new little thing we are slowly able to do,” Hale said. “Also, just being back there with scripts in our hands.”

The students plan to have live performances November 12-14 and on Nov. 16 in the Performing Arts Center. All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are limited because of COVID restrictions.

“It’s just a realm of theater we aren’t used to, but you know we’ll make it work and we’ll have fun,” Fera said.

Fera is confident her students can overcome every challenge thrown at them, especially her seniors who have gone through Harvey, flooding and class rearrangements. They are all determined to follow the guidelines and policies so their programs can successfully reopen.   

“Despite challenges thrown your way you are always able to find a way to conquer your challenges even if it’s not normal,” Hale said.