As students return to school masked and socially distanced, the theater program looks at a year starkly different from previous semesters.
Primarily, the fall play, a popular event among the community, will no longer happen.
“Earlier in the pandemic, I was hoping at least to rehearse a full production and film it or stream it live,” Performing Arts Chair Mr. Hengst said. “Then at least an audience at home would have a full play. But now I can’t even bring in a cast to practice.”
Forced to change plans, Mr. Hengst is still hopeful a fall “production” is possible.
The modifications are better than nothing at all, but it cannot match a live, in-person performance.austin Zhuang ’22
“What I’m looking to do now is find scripts or have the students write some things that are monologue-driven. We would then rehearse the scenes virtually, and I could bring one person in at a time, record each part, edit them together, and publish it.”
The modifications are better than nothing at all, but it cannot match a live, in-person performance.
“What I love to do is tell stories with audiences in the seats,” Mr. Hengst stated. “There’s an energy in the building as the story progresses. Unfortunately, that is something we just can’t do this year.”
Regardless, the theater program is hopeful for some normalcy.
“The spring production is not canceled. I’m not planning on stopping that until we get closer and it is certain that a musical is not possible,” Mr. Hengst said.
Another performance that could potentially remain this year is that of the Theater III* class.
“I’m hopeful we can make something from Theater III*. It starts in March, in the spring, and it’s in the fourth quarter, so I just hope that we get a chance to return to normal by then.”
Regardless, classes like Theater II are left to take a more technology-focused approach compared to previous years.
“We can’t do normal class activities, so I have found two software programs for scenic design and lighting design, and we’re going to do a lot of virtual collaborative work,” Mr. Hengst said.
The limitations, however, may also benefit future curriculum and improve the class.
“Because the pandemic hit in March, a lot of companies developed and created a lot of really useful tools and programs that I will use, not only for this year, which will be especially tough, but forever as they are so helpful,” Mr. Hengst claimed.
The department continues to look on the bright side of things, and Mr. Hengst hopes to maintain high involvement levels from students.
“I’m trying to come up with a way to get the numbers we’ve had in recent years. I think we had some 40 students last year in The Three Musketeers, and so I’m trying to give as many boys as possible opportunities to be involved.”
“I am confident everyone involved will come up with programs that we can be proud of and the school can enjoy.”Mr. Darren Hengst
Even if interest dwindles, Mr. Hengst is confident the performing arts at Haverford will find ways to create productions and works that the community can enjoy.
“Actors and artists are the most flexible people I know,” Mr. Hengst said, “and I am confident everyone involved will come up with programs that we can be proud of and the school can enjoy.”