By Sara Greenberg
In theater, there is a common phrase, “the show must go on,” but in the current circumstances, can it?
This year, juniors Alison Kessler and Rachel Parsley took on the responsibility of directing the student directed play, Tartuffe, a comedy originally written in 1664 by Moliére, which follows protagonist Orgon and his family, as they go great lengths to save their home and their family. The play was scheduled to open on Thursday, April 2 and run for three performances through Monday, April 6. The casting process began prior to February break, when the directors held auditions in the Black Box Theater for anyone who wanted to participate. After assigning roles, the directors distributed scripts to the cast, so they could start learning their lines over the break.
According to Kessler, when the students returned, they dove right into after-school rehearsals. By the time The Leffell School announced its closure due to COVID-19, they had already blocked [staged] the entire performance.
When remote learning began, so did remote rehearsals for Tartuffe, as the cast continued practicing every Sunday over Zoom. “We are rehearsing hoping that we are going to go back at some point. If we are going back, then we can’t just not have rehearsal and then we get back and have to go full speed ahead. So, we’re slowing down a little bit, but we are still hoping that we are going to get back,” said Kessler.
As with any type of remote events, the cast of Tartuffe is experiencing some challenges in this new setting. “It’s just hard to focus when you’re online. Especially with acting, it’s such an intimate art, like, to connect with someone, you really have to be right next to them, and like staring in their face. There are especially moments with certain characters in the show where there is so much tension, and it is hard to achieve that on a screen… Because, for one thing, they are sitting down, and another thing, they are in two separate houses,” said Kessler.
In the event of a closure for the rest of the school year, a few plans have been formulated as to how to display the cast’s hard work. One option is that the cast would hold a virtual readthrough of the script, where everyone is muted except for the actors. Another option is that, if small gatherings are permitted, the cast can meet at school and perform as scheduled, but the audience would be watching over livestream.
No matter what the outcome, the act of participating in a play can be very special, especially in a time when many people are bored and lonely. “It gives them something to look forward to and I think in a way that we keep rehearsing and that we keep getting together on Sundays, it helps them through this, at least I hope it does, it helps me through this… You can dedicate yourself to something,” said Kessler.
So maybe, the show will go on.