Statesmen Theatre returns to auditorium

Despite date changes and complications, the theater program’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is underway.

A year away from the physical stage still affects the preparation for November’s fall play, not only for the actors, but especially what goes on behind the scenes.

“There have been many changes while preparing for the performance, but our directors, actors and tech crew have been working very hard to adapt,” senior and actress Nina Southern said.

“I think we are all used to having obstacles leading up to the show after working on four virtual performances our previous year.”

Southern said performing in person has been a big adjustment for many students.

“Personally, I struggled at first taking on a role that requires a lot of stage combat and memorization,” she said. “After spending a year online with little social interaction, taking on scenes that required a lot of trust and communication with my scene partners was challenging.”

However, Southern said directors have supported the actors when adapting to the change.

“I also have spent a lot of time getting to know my scene partners, and the trust and friendship we have built has made the work we put into the show a lot more enjoyable,” she said.

Initially, the theatre program planned for the show to take place in the senior courtyard so that the actors did not have to wear masks, but it would have required building a whole stage outside.

“[We were going to] do it outside until we realized that with masks or not, we would be able to perform better inside,” senior and stage manager Sohani Agarwal said. The change prompted the performance to be pushed back two weeks, since they now needed to reserve the auditorium around choir, band and orchestra concerts.

Even so, not all problems were solved.

“It’s been crazy coming back to school after virtual learning, and there’s so much to catch up on,” lighting head and senior Alex Thrasher said. “With lights, it takes a lot of practice: you can’t get enough training on the lighting board.”

With canceled shows two years ago and virtual ones last year, there was no need for lighting skills in a virtual setting.

“Traditionally, we have a junior train a freshman to take over because it allows for two years of training and then two years of running things,” Thrasher said. “I am currently a senior, and I need to impart all of my knowledge in half that time.”

As the only veteran on the lighting team, Thrasher said this year hasn’t been a smooth ride.

“Teaching is incredible. It is really hard doing it in such a condensed amount of time, but it really is a lot of fun,”
she said. “It’s especially fun to teach something that I and the person I’m teaching both love.”

Costumes head and senior Cassidy Dorman agreed with Thrasher.

“It is difficult being the only senior,” Dorman said. “I have to be the leader most of the time, which is not exactly my favorite part. I love being friends, not the boss.”

Despite the challenges, Dorman said the community is her favorite part of theater.

Agarwal agreed. “I feel like theater is exactly where I fit in,” she said. “The bonds I have made with everyone in the department make it all the better. I love that I am able to be my most creative self in that class.”

To share that sense of community, Agarwal said she always tries to get to know anyone who’s new to the theater program.

“I ended up working with a lot of people during productions, and I try to be as welcoming as I can,” she said.

With the rollercoaster of changes in preparation for this play, the theater program is finally scheduled to perform from Nov. 11 through Nov. 13.