Drama department holds live virtual production


Used with permission of Andrew Shaw

Student actors meet via Zoom to practice for virtual productions. Two virtual productions were offered during the first semester.

Nayana Celine Xavier, News Editor

Since the onset of the pandemic, the drama department has been planning on how to move their productions online. Although the program relied on an in-person environment to hold rehearsals and plays, they have found a way to do everything virtually.

“We had about a month of rehearsals online every day after school from about 3 to 6, but a lot of it was independent, just going through lines and picking up cues from the director,” senior Aidan Ramee said. 

The production was called “The Importance of Being Earnest” and featured a small cast of nine actors. It was rehearsed completely online, with the actors joining together on Google Meet. A video of the meeting was live-streamed on YouTube by the director, speech and drama teacher Andrew Shaw. 

“While we did have fun cracking jokes on Google Meets, it would’ve been really nice to have rehearsals in person, not just for the social aspect of theatre and bonding with my castmates, but also because I know we could’ve done so much with our body language on the stage and have a really fun time bouncing off of each other’s energies more,” senior Lila York said. 

In terms of setting the scene for the production, actors got creative and first tried to find pre-existing props they had in their households. Whatever couldn’t be found was hand-delivered to them by the drama teachers. 

“All the small props like teacups were ordered on Amazon and directly shipped to our addresses,” Ramee said. 

After the play, costumes were sent to the dry cleaners so that they would be properly cleaned before making their way back to school. 

An online production allowed the drama department to hold a show with a small cast, a feat that would have otherwise been difficult to manage given how large the drama department is. 

“Chantilly Drama is a very large department and the teachers want to have as many students as possible be involved,” junior Stephi Shraga said. “It’s not very selective, so we were able to do Earnest which has a pretty small cast.”

The makeup team held online tutorials to teach actors how to do their own stage makeup for shows, allowing actors to gain an extra skill. Additionally, the virtual environment allowed actors to explore screen acting, and viewers out of town were still able to watch the play, all in the comfort of their homes.

Despite the drama department’s success in hosting a virtual production, there were still difficulties that arose along the way. Without a live audience and a stage to move around and express body language, actors had to compensate by putting a greater emphasis on their tone and facial expressions.

“Having an audience gives the actors energy to feed off of, there’s laughter and response, but there was no trace of an audience that the actors could see while acting,” Shraga said. 

Over the December 10th weekend, a series of one-act shows were performed. With two online productions in the books, the drama department looks forward to hosting more shows. At this time, Chantilly Drama is working on a winter children’s show. 

“With every single safety precaution in mind, if we were able to go back to school, then we would like to have a live performance. The main priority is safety,” Ramee said.