Drama program plans fall play, welcomes new director

Ben+Mash%2C+David+Kolb+and+Stephen+Rosov+adjust+lights+used+for+%22Freaky+Friday%2C%22+which+was+performed+during+the+2019-2020+school+year.

Avana Wang

Ben Mash, David Kolb and Stephen Rosov adjust lights used for “Freaky Friday,” which was performed during the 2019-2020 school year.

Currently assembling members for a fall show, stage crew is adapting to a new virtual platform with a new technical director, Julian Lazarus.

As part of Wootton Theater, recruitment for both acting and stage crew has been conducted through Drama Club meetings hosted by Lazarus, the sponsor. These Zoom meetings spread information about seminars, have students interact with one another through activities and serve to gain new members. “Drama club is a great space for actors and crew members to interact,” senior Valerie Zhao said.

New members will be needed to participate in the fall play planned for this December. To follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, a watch party will be hosted over Zoom to view a radio drama called “Lead Rings on the Merry-Go-Round.” According to the audition information, the show will be recorded from students’ homes and edited together, after which the cast and crew will have the opportunity to participate in a live, moderated talk with the audience.

In this new context, stage crew is required to assemble new skill sets. While stage crew will still be designing lights and costumes plots, there is now a demand for video editing since actors will be individually filming their parts. “Whereas normally we would block the show and we would have tech elements happening parallel and then everything would come together at the end, now we’re attacking little parts of it as we go and then stitching all that together,” Lazarus said.

Although excited, members miss the usual creative and construction process of stage crew. In a traditional school year, co-technical directors and seniors Valerie Zhao and Fiona Nellist would be designing the stage and delegating tasks to build members like seniors Philip Zhao and Michelle Kien, who both enjoy the collaboration and seeing the end product after hours of work, which they hope will still be present in this year’s season. “Being in a leadership position for what I do, building sets, is particularly empowering because it’s not stereotypically feminine,” Valerie Zhao said.

Tech theatre is a really great marriage of art and science.”

— Julian Lazarus

Although the reasons these members joined range from loving painting to crushing on actors, all are glad they joined. Kien loves the connection the community has, a result of them spending anywhere from eight to 30 hours a week together, while Philip Zhao likes trying different disciplines from costumes to construction. “Tech theatre is a really great marriage of art and science. There’s sound, special effects, makeup – the very nature of theater is to create a universe on stage so no matter who you are, there is always a place for you,” Lazarus said.

Another change for stage crew is Lazarus’s presence as stage and technical director after the resignation of longtime theater teacher Jessica Speck. As a theater consultant, Lazarus plans to implement a growth cycle of change over a period of one year, with three and five year plans to improve equipment as well as the relationship between cast and crew. “I am grateful for his enthusiasm and excitement about becoming part of Wootton Theater and am pleased to see someone who has extensive experience in both the dramatic arts and technical theater,” Nellist said.