The show goes on with ORRHS Drama Club’s Spoon River Anthology

Dec 16, 2020

The show must go on. 

The Old Rochester Regional High School Drama club spent months of long, cold nights rehearsing Spoon River Anthology for an outdoor rendition of the play, which is a collection of monologues given from beyond the grave. 

And then at the last minute, the state tightened the limit on outdoor gatherings from 50 to 25.

“Suddenly all these things that we were jazzed about were gone,” Director Jacob Sherburne said. 

But there was a plan in place to keep the play on if covid prevented it from being held in-person.

Sherburne intentionally picked what he described as a “durable play,” one that could make the shift from in-person to remote if need be. 

The play shifted to a set that bore resemblance to an online video call, and its Dec. 5 and 6 performances were broadcase live on the web.

Since the play is a group of monologues, it was easy for actors to work in isolation, practicing their lines without needing to play off the energy of other actors. 

Luckily, Sherburne had a group of actors who he said “could really sink their teeth into the structure of a monologue.”

The transition to a virtual set was less smooth.

The club had to find ways to convey movement and emotion on tiny computer screens with little ability to move around. 

“We tried to make it look like we were really interacting,” said Eloise Casi, who played Nellie Clark. 

Even with the choreography figured out, the club had to find ways to mitigate technical hiccups like connection issues and audio delay. 

One solution was to have Bessie Pierre, who played Death in the show, pick up the monologues, in real-time, of actors who were having technical difficulties. She ended up having to perform some monologues she had never even rehearsed before.

“Watching Bess do that was one of my favorite moments of the play,” Sherburne said. 

For others, adaptations included finding out how to keep noisy families from being picked up by microphones and learning how to use green screens for the first time. 

“In the end, there were technical issues, but we knew we were doing the best with what we had,” said Emma Williamson, who played Enoch Dunlap. “And I think we put on a pretty great show.”