On Friday, four performers took part in the Drama Labs’ Halloween special show by performing in their own rooms and delivering lines in front of a Zoom camera. Despite virtual performance challenges this year, performers and producers have found unexpected opportunities amid adversity.
“Virtual Drama Labs does open up a little bit of leeway in terms of the types of performances we are allowed to have. We found a lot of people are willing to do original pieces or like songs, which is really awesome to see,” said Producer Niara Urquhart ’21.
During the pandemic, performer Aleisha Roberts ’22 transitioned from directing to acting after struggling with the challenges of adapting her hands-on directing style to virtual shows. However, she credits the new format with allowing her to explore different aspects of theater.
“Before [the pandemic], for me, it was very performative… Acting, and theater in general, has become a lot more personal for me, now that I’m in the shoes of a performer more often than as a director,” said Roberts.
While she has participated in other productions at Andover, Audrey Sun ’23 acted in her first Drama Lab on Friday. Sun also expressed that the pandemic allowed her to explore theater further.
“[The virtual format] makes you stretch yourself more, because you are pretty limited in the movements you do. I have to think about [things like] my tone or my top half more. On camera you can’t see my legs. I do a lot of walking around when I am performing, but this [performance] is just sitting and you have to think about making it more subtle,” said Sun.
Audience member Kate Horton ’22 expressed her appreciation for the actors’ and producers’ efforts in preparing for the show amidst the virtual environment. Horton has previously participated in Drama Labs and is involved with the theatre program at Andover, and believes that the virtual format ultimately helps actors improve and grow.
“I think that it adds another challenge that makes a person a better actor. I think it really means that you have to work harder at it. The product isn’t as natural and isn’t as fluid as it would be in person. I guess we’re still looking for ways to improve and finding new technologies and ways so we can still act, sing, and perform together,” said Horton.
Urquhart encourages members of the Andover community to attend future Drama Labs to connect with their peers.
“[The theater community] is so tightly knit, and that means our community, when it’s so fractured like this, tends to be really small…[But while] Drama Labs [are] really personal… it’s also open to the entire school. It’s a space where everyone can come in and have a laugh or watch their friends… do something really fun,” said Urquhart.