With COVID-19 restrictions increasing the difficulty of making live performances possible, the Forest Hills Eastern Theater Department is finding new and creative ways to make the fall play a reality. For the entire first week of rehearsals, the actors in this year’s play, The Beverly Hillbillies, took to Zoom to run lines and perfect their southern accents over their computer screens. As in-school learning and rehearsals have progressed, actors have been recently allowed to return to the auditorium for the rest of their rehearsals in preparation for the show.
Necessary precautions have been taken to lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19:
- Actors are required to wear their masks for the entire duration of rehearsals AND performances. Furthermore, clear masks have been ordered and will be used for performances in order to allow actors to effectively convey facial expressions.
- Physical contact is limited between actors.
- Actors have been asked to limit their contact with people outside of rehearsals.
- Director Annie Pruski has also chosen to cast understudies (a new concept in the FHE theater department) in the event that lead roles contract COVID-19.
- The cast size has been limited, with only a “classroom-sized” cast of about thirty kids compared to the usual fifty.
- Actors are required to bring their own water bottle, and may not share any food or drinks, bringing an unfortunate end to the long established tradition of sharing snacks.
- Hand-sanitizing stations have been made readily available in production areas.
- Bathroom breaks are staggered to ensure social distancing guidelines.
- Sets, costumes, and props will be at a minimum, with costumes and makeup being completed off campus. Students will not be permitted to share communal costumes, makeup, or wigs.
- Body mics and handheld mics will not be shared, and will be sanitized after each use by the actor.
- Only the actors required for rehearsals are allowed in the auditorium, allowing for easier crowd control.
- Actors’ dressing room stations will be socially distant.
As of now, the drama department hopes that shows will be performed live for 20% of the auditorium’s capacity, while simultaneously streaming the show through an undetermined platform operating on a “pay-per-view” basis. Show dates are November 12th-14th, and more details will follow as the show date becomes closer. Though everything is subject to change, with luck and extra precautions, actors will be able to provide a sense of normalcy within Forest Hills Eastern. After all, the show must go on.