High School Theater During the Pandemic: Cast Edition

High School Theater During the Pandemic: Cast Edition

Anavi Prakash, Reporter

Covid-19 put everything to a standstill in March of last year, including high school theatre productions. However, as the new school year began, several schools created ways for their shows to go on. On the other hand, several schools also saw the risk as too high, and have yet to restart productions. 

The following information has been compiled from several different schools in the North Shore’s perspectives, who have successfully put on shows during the 2020-2021 school year.

Auditions are most easily done online now. Whitefish Bay High School’s audition process was through videos– all auditionees would send in videos of themselves acting out their monologue, song, and/or dance and the casting directors would then review and pick the cast through those videos. 

When it came down to actual rehearsals, there were two roads taken. The first was mostly in-person rehearsals, but some virtual ones, and the second road was the opposite, with most rehearsals conducted virtually. 

Whitefish Bay went down the first path, and marked what the set would look like using tape in a large open space, (in this case, the cafeteria). Moreover, for their current musical, rehearsals are limited to 30 minutes following the music class guidelines. The 30 minute rehearsals have caused the number of rehearsals to increase, pushing back the late-February shows to mid-April. For rehearsals, cast members come in small groups to rehearse a ‘bundle’ of songs, i.e. songs all those students are in. They have also utilized zoom rehearsals, both for going over lines, and for small group/soloist rehearsals. 

Nicolet High School took the second path, in which rehearsals were all conducted online. Actors found an area in their homes that was similar to the set so they could block each scene. For the actual show, which was filmed and then streamed online, everyone rehearsed with the actual set once and then filmed the actual scene. The actual filming was done in a short period of time to ensure all safety precautions. 

No matter how rehearsals were conducted, wearing masks was required, as was six feet of distance between each pair of people. Avoiding close contact was key to prevent everybody from quarantining, which both schools were successful in doing. Keeping lists of who was where at what time and taking attendance, however, is crucial if someone does end up having to quarantine. 

Actual Shows 
For the actual shows, the cast for Nicolet’s Antigone: We Are the Rebels Asking for the Storm, as mentioned above, filmed each scene, and the show itself was available for streaming over a one week period. 

Whitefish Bay’s shows, Almost, Maine, and Hamlette, were both done in person and three times, with a minimal live audience, and a live stream during the shows as well. 

No matter how shows are done, actors have to act using half their face, depending more on their voice. Their voices also have to be much louder and clearer for the audience, whether at home or in person.

Overall, doing high school theater shows is possible during these unprecedented times. The procedures both Nicolet and Whitefish Bay used have proven successful, opening up options for other schools to utilize for their own shows. 

A huge thank you to Ms. Kind-Keppel and Mr. Johnston from Whitefish Bay High School, and Ms. Anderle from Nicolet for sharing their production procedures!