Conard Drama Adapts to Save the Musical and More
By: Ethan Mathieu
Last year, COVID-19 tragically cut performances of Conard Performing Arts' Drowsy Chaperone. As deaths surpassed the 400,000 mark and the vaccine still months out from being massely available, questions about whether or not a musical could run this year remained. However, Conard Performing Arts' has announced that they will be putting on a show: Little Women, a classic coming-of-age era story that follows the progression of four sisters. To get more information on how Drama is adapting, I corresponded with Nora Wilson, the Stage Manager.
This will be a musical unlike any put on previously by Conard Performing Arts. The cast size is much smaller, cut roughly in half from last year. The stage crew has seen similar cuts. Upperclassmen were given priority for the limited slots. As Wilson put it, “...For us seniors, [it] is our last show…”.
While the play itself is prevailing, the fate of in-person audiences is still up-in the air. There is hope, though. The Conard Black Box was able to perform Utter Chaos to a spaced, outdoor audience. The hope, according to Wilson, is to do something similar for at least one production of Little Women. Inside audiences, for now, look unlikely.
The typical rehearsal day has completely shifted as well. Everyone wears a mask and is socially distanced. “...it’s a learning curve, but we’re all trying the best we can to make sure we stay separated in order to prevent, god forbid, a spreading situation.”, reports Wilson. The reason Little Women was actually chosen was because it’s centered around a house; a perfect set for the circumstances presented by COVID-19. The separation of students would be supported by the plot of the play itself. However, the script still had to be modified in order to fit the new demands of the pandemic. Out went the scenes of emotional hugging and kissing, replaced presumably by socially-distant alternatives that can still preserve the heart of the script. “It feels weird [blocking out those scenes], but of course, it’s what has to happen,” explains Wilson.
Drama is also upping their game to make better use of digital formats with the Ten Minute Plays Festival. They are bringing back structures similar to how “The Internet is Distrac- Oh Look a Kitten!” was released, except now they’ve had ample time to master the media. Wilson describes it as being “...more student film...they’re going to look a lot more polished.”
Through all of the difficulties, Conard Drama remains resourceful, persistent and, most of all, adaptable. “I’m so happy that the administration at [C]onard allows us to keep doing it [the play], no matter what the restrictions. I’m just really thankful that we just keep evolving and working on creating shows,” says Wilson.
Little Women will be available to rent online in early April, filmed by a Conard Alum, and the Ten-Minute Plays Festival will be available to stream soon.