Virtual YAMO takes to the stage


Anika Radhakrishnan, Staff Writer

The well-known student variety show YAMO seamlessly blends different forms of art to specifically engage Evanstonians. The beloved, annual show is entirely casted, written, directed and performed by students while theater directors Timothy Herbert and Aaron Carney oversee the larger aspects of the show, associate director of bands Haley Sullivan and band director Matthew Bufis focus on music, and assistant dance director Katrina Engel focuses on dance. As YAMO heads into its 63rd year of production, the Evanston-focused show will be running differently due to the pandemic. 

This year, YAMO was delayed, so instead of it being performed in October as usual, the show got pushed back to May. As restrictions have eased, students have met for in-person rehearsals. Doing activities in-person during the pandemic has come with its own challenges that many have found frustrating.

Senior Carmiya Bady, this year’s director of YAMO, lists some of the challenges of holding in-person rehearsals during the COVID-19 pandemic 

“We can only rehearse in one-hour increments, to make sure that we socially distance correctly and we have to use multiple spaces at once and then switch out,” Bady says. 

“And then singing is the biggest deal for me, because I’m working with singers for 30 minutes in a room and then, after that, we have to leave the room. The air in the room has to be turned out three times before we go and use that room again so it’s definitely very different in the process.”

Although the in-person rehearsals have been difficult, there are some upsides to having the show be virtual. First off, there will be fun effects on screen to keep the audience engaged. The show will also be recorded in multiple locations for scenes, which is something that couldn’t be achieved on a stage. 

Another difference this year is that YAMO typically has a theme or idea that it’s built on, but this year, there is no theme.

“Our theme is the fact that it’s going to be on YouTube, and it’s going to be done virtually, because this is the first year that it’s ever been that,” Bady explains. “There’s usually themes seen throughout the show, it moves along and, at the end, you have a big closing scene [where] it’s all kind of wrapped up under that, but this year, that is not the case.”

Since YAMO doesn’t have a theme this year, the show will be structured like NBC’s sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, where there will be skits, short stories, infomercials, dancing, students taking on the roles of a variety of interesting characters, and music played by the orchestra. 

“Even though the pieces are all different, it’s a show together, and it’s got to be really fun to watch, and I think people are going to be laughing the entire time and really excited to see it,” Bady remarks.

Despite the differences in the show this year, Bady is excited and proud of the work being done by the students.

 “I want people to like [that] students did this, it was all students, and it was all my team of directors, tech team, crew and all the people that were doing this. We made that show; I know it’s going to be great,” Bady says. “It’s going to be wonderful because we’re putting our hearts and souls into it. I want people to take away that amidst everything that we lost this year.”

Bady also knows that there is a lack of diversity in the theater department, and she wants to get more Black and Brown people involved in the show. She acknowledges that this isn’t something that can be done easily, but if there were more Black and Brown people who were a part of YAMO, then that would inspire other POC to join. 

Bady intends to inform more people about what they can do in the theater department before she leaves ETHS in hopes of empowering more Black and Brown students: “We want you there,” she says. “And the way that you get other people to do it is by you becoming the leader.”

YAMO’s 63rd show will be available to watch on the ETHS YouTube channel around May 7.