Stevenson High to stage virtual performances of one-act shows this weekend
Like all other public group activities, spring theatrical performances were canceled at high schools across the suburbs because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide stay-at-home order.
But this weekend, Lincolnshire's Stevenson High School will carry on an annual tradition of staging one-act plays written and directed by students.
They'll just be done virtually by video over the internet, with cast members in their individual homes.
"Everything from casting, to rehearsals, play revisions, design meetings and technical rehearsals took place on Zoom," Stevenson High theater teacher and director Abra Chusid said of the online videoconferencing platform that's become so popular in recent weeks.
Chusid said the decision to continue with the production despite the pandemic and the school campus being closed was easy.
"The past seven weeks have demonstrated just how necessary it is that the show must go on," she said. "Theater is all about flexibility and creative problem solving, and the challenge to bring our shows online was one we knew we were ready to tackle."
Other than some key props and costumes that were mailed to actors' homes, the students are working with whatever they have available, Chusid said.
"Student costume designers even video-chatted with actors to go through their closets, to put together the right looks," Chusid said.
The performances began Thursday night. The remaining shows are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Eleven one-act plays will be performed in all.
Friday's plays are called: "5 Minutes"; "How to Write a Musical, the Musical"; "Operation B.I.N.G.O.;" and "The Town of Puppets." They can be viewed at vimeo.com/411595784.
Saturday's plays are: "A Plethora of Paper Trails"; "Second Best: A Mini Musical"; "Tales of Beetle, The Bard"; and "Unbalanced." They can be viewed at vimeo.com/411596059.
Stevenson High senior Ella Kalis, a costume and scenic designer for "A Plethora Of Paper Trails" and "Tales of Beetle, The Bard," said she never expected to stage a play virtually.
"It challenged me as a designer to step out of my comfort box and solve a new set of problems, different from live theater," she said. "It truly helped me grow as a designer."
Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey praised the participating students' ingenuity and drive.
"They could easily have given up when the school was closed," he said. "We hope people will honor their hard work by checking out the performances."