How Has Remote Learning Impacted the Berkeley Carroll Theater Program? A Recap of the 2020 – 2021 Season


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The fall season shared two fully remote productions; the Middle School musical and the Upper School play were rehearsed and performed entirely online. The Middle School musical, The Show Must Go Online, a piece written specifically for a Zoom format, kicked off the season. Middle School students spent weeks perfecting their scenes and group numbers before sharing their work with the school community in November. A highlight of the musical was Mr. Kent’s breakout role as the Drama Teacher. 

Instead of producing a pre-existing play like The Crucible online, WT decided that the constraints of virtual theater provided a unique opportunity to explore documentary theater. The Upper School play, The Hope Project, follows the same format as plays like Anna Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror and the Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Project. The play was a collaboration with Daniel K. Isaac, an actor and playwright most recently known for his work as Ben Kim on Showtime’s Billions. Ella B. ‘23 says that “working with Daniel K. Isaac was a really amazing experience because I’ve seen him on TV before. So being able to have him assign me a role and give me personalized notes was something that I will always remember!”

Working virtually created a unique opportunity for the tech team to learn about a new medium. Soundboard operator Peter S. ‘23 describes the show as “a very educational experience that allowed me to learn and experience a new form of theater. It was very fun to work on this project, and despite the big learning curve on all the tech, it still gave us the ability to create something amazing.” The tech team was introduced to software and programming techniques that allowed them to share The Hope Project with the entire school. 

In March, the theater program debuted its first hybrid production, a musical cabaret titled A Hint of Light. The show featured songs from musicals like Amélie and Next to Normal and original work from award-winning playwrights. The show was broadcast live on YouTube while actors performed maskless from different classrooms in Sterling Place. 

The group numbers that opened and closed the cabaret were filmed over a few weeks. After weeks of rehearsal, each cast member went into school to individually record their vocal parts. Eventually, a sound designer strung together the different recordings so that it could sound like everyone was singing in the same room. Filming the choreography was a two-part process: each cast member had an individual appointment where they got to film themselves dancing without a mask, and then the cast gathered to film on stage together. 

Ella B. ‘23 shares that “even though we didn’t have a live audience, getting to be in the same space as my classmates was really special. Performing together during the group number recording days, circling up before the show, and hanging out in between scenes allowed us to experience some of the best aspects of live theater together.”

Next week, the Middle School will perform its annual play, an original work of immersive theater based on the popular video game Among Us. The show’s choose-your-own-adventure format aims to engage audiences through the limits of a computer screen by placing them into the world of the show. Throughout the play, viewers will be able to explore a virtual spaceship and visit a range of different scenes where Middle Schoolers try to unmask the imposter. The Middle School play will use the virtual format as an opportunity to perform a show that transports the audience beyond what’s sometimes possible in an in-person theater setting.