The Show Must Go ON!

Thespian+Troupe+4043+pulled+out+all+the+stops+for+this+year%27s+performance+submissions.+

Photograph by Pla

Thespian Troupe 4043 pulled out all the stops for this year’s performance submissions.

Update: Our Thespian Troupe 4043 took home 3 Top Honors, 25 Superiors and 8 Excellents at the Southeast Regional Florida Thespian Conference, breaking all past records in these District competitions. Congratulations to them all.

For Thespians this year, gone are the days of long after school rehearsals, face to face scenes and shows in the CFA. Now, despite having transitioned fully into Zoom, conducting everything from meetings to full blown ensemble scenes for the competition online, the Drama club remains steadfast in its mission: to act. 

“If there’s one thing you can take away from this, it’s that I don’t want to focus on what we can’t do, but rather what we can do, and I feel like there’s so much that we can do that it’s exciting,” says Cristina Pla-Guzman, Upper School Theater teacher and director of the Upper School Thespians. Ms. Pla, the actors, designers and crew have been working tirelessly to provide new experiences in the drama department, while also keeping the traditions that have developed along the way. Some of these new experiences include: Master Classes taught by real Broadway actors, directors and technicians (which are available not only to Thespians and Drama students, but anyone who wants to join the class as an X-term credit), additional, diverse theater-based classes, more one-on-one coaching to be able to enhance people’s abilities as actors, and lastly, the ability to include more actors in Thespians competitions pieces when before they were only limited to 3 actors per category.

Despite all of these changes, the department has still managed to keep Thespians the same, even while transitioning to an online format. Thespians is still competing with the same passion and drive as before. Monologues, solos, duets, and ensemble scenes alike are still as amazing as they were in previous years. Members of Thespians were each given a ring light to record their pieces, and pieces like ensemble or duet scenes had to be recorded and performed through Zoom. This year, the International Thespian Society was very clear with their rules, demanding that every actor be shown from head to toe, with proper audition attire just like it would have been if Thespians were performing in person.

Since this move to an online platform is an unprecedented change to an already very hectic and stressful environment, there were some hiccups along the way. Acting itself was very difficult as it was hard to see where the other person was, and even harder to establish an emotional connection with them. In the recording process, simple things like light switches or electrical fixtures proved to be a nuisance to those performing as Thespian rules stated that there must not be any distracting objects in the background. Thankfully, Thespians had the privilege of hiring an editor to help with these issues. The editor was able to sync sound and picture, flip scenes that were filmed horizontally, and edit out any distracting objects in the background.

Mikey Port records at home as a member of the Troupe. (Photograph by Pla)

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to learn, like theater is so versatile I’m so impressed with what we were able to do in such unprecedented times,” said Nina Lardi, a prominent member of Thespians. “I did a duet musical with Gabi, and yes it was very difficult, but I think it was more of a learning experience for both of us.”

Despite the novel changes and challenges that came with COVID-19, the entire Drama Department was able to power through and create a unique but exciting season. In fact, as Pla recounted, with 30 students onboard “we had the most ever thespians competing in 33 events!”

“Our makeup designers Kaylee Parizo, Natalia Socarras and Ana Muniz Rodriguez were a part of the online thespian tech lab class and we used our time working with each designer individually to discuss the concepts of their ideas.” Interpretation, imagination and inspiration were clearly at play and were at the heart of their success.  Costume designers Daniel Fruman and Mapi Onorato “beautifully designed all their pieces from scratch,” a proud and amazed Pla said.

At times, things seemed to be very stressful, but thankfully, the members of Thespians took it as a learning opportunity and a chance to enhance their already very impressive talents. Overall, everything was a success, and this success is what paved the way for the Drama department to be able to do a Spring musical entirely online. This will be something new not only for the Drama department but also for the students at Miami Country Day, who are not accustomed to an online format of theater.

Photograph by Pla

The Thespians Showcase offers students the ability to share their passion and the amount of work they’ve put into their competition pieces.  On November 18 and 19, the showcase will be live-streamed online, showcasing each and every competition piece, with special appearances from students in the Drama club executive board. As mentioned before, there will be a Spring Musical, though the play has not been announced yet (stay tuned for the announcement on the Drama Club’s Instagram page, @mcds_drama). The Drama Club has matured so much, and we are excited to see another amazing year of theater, even if it is remote.