Amid in-person school year, students connect again through theatre productions

 After multiple performances being held through a screen, the wonderful world of theater finally comes to life again.  ETHS show Twelve Angry Jurors opened October 7 and the Freshman/Sophomore Production Radio Play Disaster premiered October 14These are two of many shows to be performed at ETHS this school year.   

  Sydney Chow, a sophomore with a role in the production Twelve Angry Jurors, is excited to get back onstage after performing virtually in the Freshman/Sophomore play last year.  

“It just didn’t feel real. It felt like you were taking a video of yourself. It didn’t feel like you’re in the environment of being the character like you would usually do in real life theater,” Chow says.

Theater is all about being able to express emotions through facial expressions, movements and different tones of voice. Doing all of this through a screen made it very difficult to get the real experience of a theater production.

“One of the hardest parts about last year was that the actors didn’t really get to communicate with each other all that much,” explains Freshman/Sophomore Play co-director Laura Jewell. “Now, the rehearsals have been really fun as we’re just kind of playing around with the script… and it has led to a really fun time.” Jewell says.

One important aspect of theater is the strong connections between cast members, which  was challenging to accomplish while being separated last year. Now that actors can perform together again, many new bonds will form.

“When you’re all in one big group, it feels like a community. You can laugh, and have fun and make jokes, and you can’t do that virtually,” sophomore Olivia Catayong, a performer in The Radio Play Disaster, says. 

While theater may be back in person, it does not look the same as it once did. Masks are required for all actors, directors and members of the stage crew. 

“The masks make it hard to say your lines sometimes; you really need to enunciate,” Catayong says.  

“You have to speak more clearly, and you can’t use your mouth to express anything,” freshman Jay Gurrala agrees.

Despite these changes, students continue to look forward to returning to the stage and the overall feel of theater. Due to quarantine, students last year were auditioning and acting virtually through a screen rather than live. 

“Teaching folks to act for the camera is different than on stage in front of a live audience,” Edward Gray, co-director of the Freshman/Sophomore play, explains. “I am a theater actor, so I am not well-versed in camera acting, so learning to change my directions to the actors was a process.”

As the nation works to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, the theater community has tried to get back into doing live performances as soon as they could. 

“We started practicing for [the Freshman/Sophomore play] in the first week of September,” Gray says. “I’m excited for the in-person energy of the people… I prefer in-person experiences because I can read the energy and react to that, and with cameras, there it’s like an extra filter.” Grau adds.

Chow explains about what she is looking forward to now that she can perform in person once again. 

“If you’re on a stage with a lot of people who are really into their part, their energy just kind of radiates, and just being in front of a crowd, it’s very different,” Chow describes.

After almost two years, the curtains have reopened. Despite changes, actors and directors alike are excited to return, to feel the energy of live theater, build stronger communities and experience everything it means to perform live once again. Students and Staff, let the show begin!