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Out & About: Hanover High students stage outdoor play

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/14/2020 9:43:52 PM
Modified: 10/14/2020 9:43:48 PM

NORWICH — A dedicated group of students, staff and community members are making sure the show will go on for Hanover High’s Footlighters.

This weekend, the Hanover High performing arts group will stage William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night under a pavilion at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. Performances, which involve 20 students, will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 and advanced tickets are required at montshire.org. It will be held rain or shine.

“I’m so excited,” said Kaia Randolph, a senior playing the role of Viola. “I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it my senior year.”

The group had been in the midst of rehearsing their spring musical, Shrek, when schools went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For a time, they kept up rehearsals over videochat.

“It became clear really fast that it wasn’t going to happen,” Randolph said. “It was definitely sad, but at the same time I was definitely concerned about the health and safety everyone so I understood where all the decisions were coming from.”

That was one of the reasons Terry Samwick, production coordinator of the Footlighters, was determined to find a way to make a fall production possible.

“Our choices were we could perform in the auditorium and livestream it or if we wanted a live audience, we could take it outdoors,” Samwick said.

The challenge became one many theater organizations are facing: how to put on a live show safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Samwick shortened Twelfth Night to 75 minutes, eliminating an intermission. Performers committed to longer rehearsals and also practiced on weekends.

“The pacing goes quickly. We have all the high notes in there and it just made it manageable to do it in six weeks, which is the fastest we’ve ever done a play,” Samwick said. “As I thought about it, I realized that in the world of the play, there was absolutely no reason we could not treat Illyria as if there was a pandemic there.”

Masks, sanitizer and social distancing all take on roles of their own in the play.

“Incorporating masks into costumes has surprisingly not been too challenging, and if anything, it has actually helped to further enhance our decision-making process and experience in the costume design,” senior Johan Berendsen, who plays the part of Malvolio, wrote in an email.

In designing costumes, he is taking into account what mask colors and patterns can symbolize for each character.

“Little decisions like that have been super fun to come up with, and it’s definitely made the entire design process just that much more interesting” Berendsen said.

Comedy troupe Covid Commedia did a physical theater workshop with the performers. Northern Stage’s Kate Kenney helped coach actors remotely.

“I blocked a romantic comedy where nobody can touch each other. You can’t touch the person you love, what choices can you make?” Samwick said. “It was like solving a puzzle. It was fun to experiment with the idea of socially distanced blocking and masked actors.”

It’s a challenge the students welcome and have had fun figuring out how to develop their characters, despite audiences not being able to see most of their faces.

“The most challenging part of acting in a production during the pandemic has honestly just been the mask wearing,” Berendsen said. “It forces us to tell a lot of the story with our body movements and eyes, which has definitely been a huge challenge, but I do completely understand why we have to do it, and I’m just thankful that we get to put on a production!”

When props are handed off between actors, they’re sterilized in the scene. Each performer has a separate box for their supplies.

“I think one of the most difficult things is just making everything safe,” senior Ellie Roberts, the play’s stage manager, wrote in an email. “I’m in charge of a lot of the technical aspects they’re very different outside. For this show we are not doing any lights, but we do have sound equipment that we are able to use outside so the actors will have microphones and there will be some music cues.”

The Hughes Pavilion, located on the Montshire’s grounds where the performance takes place, is 2,280 square feet. It’s divided up into two sections: backstage, where the technical side of the production takes place, and the stage itself. Audience members will sit on the lawn surrounding the pavilion.

“It’s been really fun if not a little bit unpredictable,” Randolph said, recalling a recent rehearsal where the wind interfered with curtains that are part of the set.

Marcos Stafne, who acted in a production of Twelfth Night when he was in high school, said that offering the museum’s outdoor space is part of the nonprofit organization’s mission to assist other community organizations, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have 100 acres, they don’t,” Stafne said. “It warms my heart to see theater activating the space. It’s good to see young students flexing their acting and literary chops out there. It’s a memory that they’re creating and I love that they’re creating it here.”

And it really embodies the phrase “the show must go on.”

“Their level of commitment to this shows me what it must mean to them, and I’m really proud of them,” Samwick said. “They’ve really risen to the occasion.”

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Here’s a look at other Upper Valley-based events taking place over the next few days.

Thursday

■Author and cartoonist Jason Lutes will discuss his graphic novel Berlin at 7 p.m. followed by a Q&A on Zoom as part of the Virtual Bookstock 2020. Register at bookstockvt.org.

■The Tiny Necessary Theater festival at Northern Stage kicks off with It’s Fine, I’m Fine, a one-woman show written and performed by Stephanie Everett, directed by Carol Dunne and choreographed by Beatrice Capote, from 2-3:30 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m. Performances also take place on Friday and Saturday from 7:30-9 p.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $19-$45 (students $19, EBT cardholders, $5) and can be purchased at northernstage.org/tnt.

■Watch the Vermont premiere of Entangled!, a new film on the plight of the North Atlantic right whale, from 6:30-7:45 p.m. A live Q&A with the film’s director, David Abel, takes place from 7:45-8:30 p.m. Visit sustainablewoodstock.org to register.

■Gather local foods and share your makings in an online recipe exchange presented via Zoom from 6:30-8 p.m. by the Hartland Public Library. Email recipes to director@hartlandlibraryvt.org. Register at hartlandlibraryvt.org/calendar.

■King Arthur Flour’s Martin Philip will give an online talk titled “Breadwright — Baking Bread: A Baker’s Journey Home” at 7 p.m. as part of the Enfield Shaker Museum’s “All at Home: A Taste of History” lecture and food tasting series. Tickets cost $15 and are available at shakermuseum.org/event/all-at-home-a-taste-of-history.

■Begin streaming Varda by Agnes, the final film from the late director Agnès Varda, which is available through the Hop’s Film on Demand program. It costs $5-$8 to stream and will be available through Oct. 21. Visit hop.dartmouth.edu for more information.

Friday

■Liz Burdette will teach an in-person and virtual Zumba class from 8:30-9:30 a.m. In-person class limited to eight participants and offered via livestream. Pre-registration is required at hanoverrec.com. No drop-ins. $8 for in-person, $5 for livestream.

■The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (667 Dartmouth College Highway, Lebanon) will hold a Red Cross blood drive from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free COVID-19 antibody test for donors. Appointment required to donate at redcross.org. Under “Find a drive,” enter “ldslebanon.”

■The Claremont Opera House Orchestra will play polka tunes and other Oktoberfest-themed selections during a concert at Arrowhead Recreation Area (18 Robert Easter Way, Claremont), beginning at 6 p.m. Event will be moved to Claremont Opera House if it rains. Reservations required at claremontoperhouse.org or 603-542-4433. $15, adults; $5, students.

■Dartmouth alum and Iraq war veteran Phil Klay will discuss his debut novel, Missionaries, at 7 p.m. during an online event co-hosted by Still North Books and the Norwich Bookstore. Register at stillnorthbooks.com or norwichbookstore.com.

Saturday

■Rhonda Fenton will teach an in-person Zumba class from 9-10 a.m. R.W. Black Community Center (48 Lebanon St., Hanover). Limited to eight participants. Pre-registration is required at hanoverrec.com. No drop-ins. $8.

■Think “flannel shirt and paddock boots,” for High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program’s outdoors, socially distanced, gourmet picnic lunch celebration at the Community Schoolhouse in White River Junction’s Jericho Rural Historic District (3473 Jericho St). Three limited-attendance seatings will take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Visit highhorses.org/gala for tickets and more information. $50.

■Julie Loosigian, lead educator at Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center (225 Pavillion Road, East Thetford) will lead a walk along the farm’s surroundings from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m., in which participants will learn helpful tips to identify common trees in the region. Group size is limited to 10 participants. Open to all ages. Register at cedarcirclefarm.org. $10.

■BarnArts Center for the Arts will present an outdoor staging of It Can’t Happen Here — adapted from Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel about a dictator elected president of the U.S. — from 2-3:30 p.m. at Farr’s Hill (24 Elm St., Randolph). Get tickets at barnarts.org. $5-$25.

■Ciné Salon’s Home Movie Day will take place from 3-4 p.m. on Zoom. Email megan.coleman@thehowe.org for an invite. If you wish your films shown, contact rfedorchak50@gmail.com.

■Covid Commedia will perform a sensory-friendly show at 3 p.m. at Lyman Point Park (167 Maple St., White River Junction). Sponsored by the Special Needs Support Center. Registration required at covidcommedia.com.

■Stop by the First Universalist Society of Hartland (8 Brownsville Road) from 4:30-6:30 p.m. for a drive-thru turkey supper that includes roast turkey with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, coleslaw, pickles, cranberry sauce and apple crisp. No preorders. $12, exact change preferred. office@hartlanduu.org or 802 738-0102.

■Orford’s United Congregational Church (Main Street/Route 10) is holding a takeout pulled pork dinner from 4:30-6 p.m., or until sold out. For $13, you’ll get pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, a roll and brownies. 802-757-3220

■The West Lebanon Congregational Church (18 Maple St.) is hosting a Chicken and Biscuit Takeout dinner from 5-6:30 p.m., or until sold out. The meal includes homemade apple pie. Adults, $12; seniors, $10; children 5-12, $6; children under 5, free; $25 max for immediate family of four or more. For more information, call 603-298-8096.

Sunday

■Join the members of Ascutney Trails Association to build two bridges to complete the 7-mile mountainbike/hiking trail connecting the Ascutney Outdoor Center Trailhead to Mt. Ascutney State Park and the Swoops and Loops trails from 7:30 a.m.-noon. Meet at log landing at 810 Back Mountain Road in Windsor. Bring screw guns and skill saws as well as regular carpentry tools. Visit ascutneytrails.com/news/categories/events for more information.

■Jeannie Lindheim, author of “Loving Animals: Conversations with an Animal Communicator,” will give a virtual talk from 7-8 p.m., hosted by Woodstock’s North Universalist Chapel Society. Visit northchapelvt.org/intouch/north-chapel-events-and-activities for link.

■Watch a free virtual screening of Boys State, a documentary about 1,000 Texas teenage boys who engage in an annual experiment in democracy, from 7-11 p.m. Visit hop.dartmouth.edu/events/boys-state to register.

Editor’s note: Submit Upper Valley-based events to the Valley News at calendar.vnews.com.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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