Holiday DramaLab Overcomes Turnarounds and Brings “Life-Changing” Show to Audience

Red lights flooded the stage, focusing on three figures as they tugged and yelled at each other, all while opera music picked up speed in the background. A scream rang through the crowd witnessing the fight. Then, all of a sudden, the red faded into white as a joke was cracked, lightening the mood and inviting laughter from the audience. The cast of “Après Opera” then continued their performance for the opening of this year’s Holiday DramaLab.

Held on Friday evening at the George Washington Hall Theatre Classroom, the Holiday DramaLab featured two short comedy skits. There was also a holiday-themed trivia session in between where candy was offered. Audience member Zadie Robinson ’26 commented on her initial reaction after leaving the show.

“My heart is still beating from [the show]. That was genuinely the best thing I’ve ever watched. It was life-changing,” said Robinson.

Several weeks of preparation culminated in a show that was highlighted by vibrant lighting, music, and sound effects. Maya Rogers ’25 discussed her feelings after watching the show.

“I definitely liked the effects and how [the DramaLab] engaged the audience with the trivia…. I was a bit surprised by the swearing…[but] I like that they provide a lot of freedom in making decisions on [the content] of the play…. The last act scared me a lot because of the screaming. It was very exciting, in conclusion,” said Rogers.

However, the preparation process did not come without challenges for the producers, directors, and performers, as they had to readjust in a short period of time while back on campus between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. Jessica Li ’24, one of the DramaLab producers, described the situation as “hectic.”

“I think this DramaLab was a little bit harder for us to plan because we didn’t want [to] conflict with the CaMD Scholar presentation, so [the call time] was earlier than it usually is…. One thing that wasn’t working was the sound system, and we didn’t have enough time to troubleshoot it,” said Li.

Sebastian Cynn ’24, who was Duncan in “Après Opera,” mentioned the camaraderie between the cast meetings created through the long hours preparing for the performance. Supporting one another was vital for the short time period they had to prepare for this DramaLab.

“Before the performance, all of us were very nervous backstage. We all had such a quick turnaround time. We just came back from break. We just got our scripts. But there was also a sense of camaraderie there. We’re going to do this. We got this. We’re going to get through this together. We’re going to get our lines, cues, and make an amazing show,” said Cynn.

For future DramaLab performances, Li revealed that the producers are about to reach the end of their tenure and are currently passing on their experience to trainees. Performer Kashvi Ramani ’24 added that she would love to be a director and to watch out for future DramaLabs.

Ramani said, “I would definitely love to be in a directing role in a future DramaLab. I think that is a really cool position. [However], I started out with acting when I first came [to Andover], as that is something I’m more comfortable with…. Check out the future DramaLabs. Everything about it was unexpected, and I had a lot of fun.”