As the lights dim, dozens of students pack into the Theatre Classroom in George Washington Hall and gather against the walls. Their seats encircling the stage, spectators take their spots and await the first Drama Lab of the 2021-2022 school year.
Drama Labs opened this past Friday night, hosted by Producers Kate Horton ’22, Case Rosenfelt ’22, Emiliano Caceres Manzano ’22, Aleisha Roberts ’22, and Melanie Garcia ’22. The show featured three acts: a dramatic scene, stand-up comedy, and a performance from Downbeat, an all-gender a capella group. According to Downbeat member Zori Warren ’23, she enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the event, facilitating a bonding experience with her fellow performers.
“One of my favorite things about Drama Labs is that the list of acts and people per act is always relatively small, which allows you to get to know the other performers and the producers on a much more personal level in rehearsals and tech than you would be able to on a larger scale,” wrote Warren in an email to The Phillipian.
From a widow interrogated about her husband’s death to a stand-up comedy skit satirizing the Southern belle archetype, Drama Labs featured a diverse range of acts. Audience member Emilia Fonseca ’22 expressed that this range of performances stood out to her as a highlight of the Drama Lab.
“I really enjoyed the fact that there were acts of different natures; at the same time that we had moments of laughter and joy, we had moments of tension and seriousness. The diversity in acts was very refreshing and engaging,” wrote Fonseca in an email to The Phillipian.
Although the Drama Labs ran for 30 minutes, the performers in Downbeat had been preparing since the beginning of Fall Term. Warren commented on the time spent memorizing her song and learning to let go of the nerves once she and Downbeat took to the stage.
“At a certain point, you know the song through and through, you just have to get over that moment of nerves to unlock that confidence and pride in yourself and in the group as a whole and know that you are going to do your best,” wrote Warren in an email to The Phillipian.
For the 2021-2022 school year, Caceres Manzano pointed out potential changes and goals he has for Drama Labs. He outlined making Drama Labs more accessible, increasing diversity in performances, and ensuring quality over quantity of productions as three main objectives.
“We definitely want to use Drama Labs as an opportunity for anybody to perform… whether that’s a cappella groups or a comedy [act,] we really want to make it an avenue for anybody that wants to perform on a smaller scale… we’re thinking of doing fewer Drama Labs each term… so that they really are up to quality and feel more like an event then they might have in years past,” said Caceres Manzano.