“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t”: Putting on a Play in the Midst of a Pandemic

This year’s fall play will be like nothing that GDS has seen before. With COVID-19 still looming, faculty and students are embracing a new challenge: performing virtually. While this new medium will be difficult to navigate, it also opens up new possibilities that haven’t been explored by the theater department.

Laura Rosberg, the performing arts department chair, feels optimistic about the process to produce this year’s play. “We have such talented designers and such a talented tech director, Christal, that I think it could be really quite exciting,” she said.

The plan is to perform and record Hamlet over Zoom. The tech crew will put together and deliver props and costumes to the actors, and makeup and lighting will be coordinated through consultations. Sets will be put together virtually and crew members are exploring the idea of filming a backdrop for actors to use that will match with each other on Zoom. Rosberg has been watching virtual productions all summer by professional companies, which will likely provide some inspiration and ideas for this year’s play. 

Junior Aidan Kohn-Murphy has also watched some virtual shows and found them to be successful in making their stories believable and entertaining to watch. He thinks that the style of acting might be slightly different to accommodate the new medium, but because people are becoming more accustomed to Zoom, it will be easier for actors to mimic an in-person experience. 

The content of the play will also be relevant to current times. Kohn-Murphy commented on how many past shows have been adjusted to appeal to a contemporary audience, and that this year’s production will likely follow suit: “The way Laura has talked to us and the way she’s envisioning it is very fresh and new.”

Rosberg’s biggest focus for her storytelling will be on capturing teen angst in the midst of turmoil caused by adults. The main characters in Hamlet are young people who end up in tragic situations because of adult corruption. 

She relates the plot to our current circumstances, pointing out that “in Hamlet, they don’t protest and it’s their demise, and I think it’s a theme that’s going to be relevant to us at this point.” 

With these foundational ideas and the passion and determination of the staff and cast, this year’s fall play will likely be memorable. Rosberg believes they are ready to conquer the obstacles ahead: “To get the details right so that it really tells the story in a moving way is my challenge, but we’ll do it!”

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