“Called Out” debuts upon virtual stage

Organizing a school play from start to finish is usually a tough job, but for stage manager and senior Aysha Berry, this year’s first online play brought new challenges for the crew.
“Called Out” consists of the general premise wherein the actors, who receive their roles on the spot, are all involved with a telemarketing company that the audience decides on, either as employees or customers.
Berry said one of the main roadblocks of doing online shows is the technological difficulties that come with having so many people with varying degrees of internet speed and connections attending one Google Meet.
“We often have cast members getting kicked out of meetings, microphones turned off, or issues with video quality,” Berry said. “However, when all the technology falls into place, the virtual experience […] allows us to get to do theatre in a time where other schools [cannot].”
Aside from the virtual layout, improvisation is a main aspect of this play. The actors make up the script as the play goes along, adding different characters and storylines throughout.
Additionally, the audience cannot communicate their reactions to the actors as they normally would through applause or silence. Theatre director Bernard DeLeo said though the format and payoff is different, he hopes more people will come and support the show.
“It will be tough doing a comedy without the laughter of a live audience,” DeLeo said. “Laughter is the oxygen that can feed a comic performance. On the flip side, [we] have the opportunity to reach even more audiences in that it’s online and doesn’t require you to drive to [school] to see it.”
Performer and senior Adriano Moran said the lack of audience interaction in this play yields a lot less stress than other shows.
“It’s a much different feeling performing to a screen then to an audience,” Moran said. “If you say something that’s not entirely funny, the silence […] after a joke is deafening, but you expect silence either way from the computer, so there is definitely much less pressure.
While “Called Out” differs from other Statesmen Theatre productions, performer and senior Josh Gurdak said he appreciates the work DeLeo has put in so students still have the chance to put on a play for the school.
“I am content with the virtual platform,” Gurdak said. “It is different from being in person, but we’ve been utilizing technology to the best of our abilities. Everyone is in high spirits and excited for the show. I’m happy [to] have the opportunity to perform.”
In spite of the online format, Berry said collaborating with the cast still holds the same level of enthusiasm.
“The production is going better than I thought it would,” Berry said. “I was afraid that when we started [I] would miss in-person theatre more, but it’s actually given us an amazing opportunity to be close as a department again.”