Adapting With the Times to Put Together a Show

December 4, 2020
Benji Lookatch

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Class of 2021

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COVID-19 has been a major struggle in keeping people together. Many have had to hunker down in their homes to survive this virus, abandoning normal life. Even with the new knowledge that is being acquired every day by scientists and doctors, we still don’t have a clue when it will end. Using that knowledge, health organizations have put out safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. That is the information that helped my high-school drama department put on a play with actors in-person and everyone acting safely.

This year was supposed to be my best year in school. Being the oldest in school, having a good time with my friends, and getting the special perks of being a Senior. Then COVID hit and everything went out the window. No seeing my friends, no in-person school, and NO NORMAL THEATRE SEASON! I was angry and hoped that this thing would go away, but on the first day of school, we had a drama club meeting to talk about how everything was going to work. I was thrilled to hear that we were going to do something for the Fall show, even if it was all virtual. The plan was to work on the play with the intent of being in person without an audience, but if the cases in our zip code were too high, we would go online.

The ways of building the show were very different.

Stage Crew had to be split into separate days. Only 10 people could be there each day. We had a couple of upperclassmen go on every day so the underclassmen would learn the ways of building sets. Some other ways we kept safe were the use of sanitizing spray and personal work gloves which were used to keep everything clean.

My Role: When we were closer to tech week, I was the person who hung and focused the lighting for the designer. It was hard to continue when our motorized lift broke, but it needed to be done, so I took our A-Frame ladder and finished the focus. This was one of the scariest parts of my high school theatre career because I thought I was going to fall due to the rocking of the ladder.

Actors rehearsed in 30-minute increments. One group of people came in for their 30-minutes, then another group came in. The blocking was done so that the actors could social distance and that rule was broken only if it was needed in the play, but otherwise, it was mandatory for everyone.

Run of the Show: Tech week was not very different from how they normally are. 6-hour run-throughs and a lot of perfecting of everyone’s cues. During this time, we got to meet our specialist on live-streaming. Everyone worked with him to make sure the show looked as good at home as in person. This required modifying the lights and patching the sound to the stream.

The end result was a play that was the same quality as shows done before the pandemic. I hope that everyone can work together and defeat COVID-19 so life can get closer to how it was before and prevent future pandemics with the things we learned.

Benji Lookatch is an Aleph from Wisconsin Region and a drummer.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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