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Valley Parents: Hanover High’s Footlighters find a way for the show to go on

  • Hanover High School senior Allison Whitmore places a plate of tea and cookies onto the miniature stage being filmed as part of Finegan Kruckemeyer's play "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 27, 2021. Whitmore is also an actor in the play, as well as sharing the duties of mini-stage operator with senior Johan Berendsen, in background, and others. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Footlighters theater group is producing the play to be seen online for their winter production. The school's fall and spring performances have been and will be outdoors. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Stage manager Ellie Roberts, left, who is a senior, consults with director Mary Gaetz while filming set pieces of Finegan Kruckemeyer's play "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 27, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Footlighters theater group is producing the play to be seen online for their winter production. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Senior Johan Berendsen attaches shadow puppet raindrops to sticks during the filming of Finegan Kruckemeyer's play "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" play at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 27, 2021. Berendsen is involved with props, costumes, hair and makeup and is a mini stage operator in the production that will be shown online due to the COVID-19 production. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • While filming set pieces for Finegan Kruckemeyer's play "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing," assistant stage manager Isabel Taxman, who is a freshman, attaches one of several scrolling backgrounds designed and drawn by sophomore Layne Kull onto the miniature stage in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 27, 2021, as part of the Hanover High School Footlighters' winter production to be shown online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley Parents Correspondent
Published: 2/12/2021 11:05:47 AM
Modified: 2/12/2021 11:05:44 AM

Despite the obstacles of the past year, students of Hanover High School’s theater group, the Footlighters, have found new ways to share their art with audiences, including last fall’s outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Montshire Museum of Science.

“It was one of my favorite memories of 2020,” Footlighters adviser and production coordinator Terry Samwick said. “The fact that we were able to put on a show for our community was so important for the students who did it, and it was so validating for them to see how well-received it was from the people who came to see it.”

For senior Ellie Roberts, veteran Footlighters stage manager and costume designer, theater is about “having people be able to enjoy the shows we put on,” which has been difficult to make work this year. The students have adapted nonetheless.

In the fall, students did table reads and monologue and acting coaching over Zoom. Hanover High alumnus Seamus Good held a workshop on commedia dell’arte — an Italian form of comedy that uses stock characters in masks in familiar situations, improvising and pantomiming a scene — with performers who were acting outside in masks.

Because there cannot be a live audience indoors for the winter show, the students have put together a video-recorded production of a fable called This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing. The winter show wrapped up filming on Jan. 29. The performance will stream sometime in February, Samwick said.

Students composed original music and helped draw and color in a “crankable,” a moving backdrop on rolls of paper. One student made shadow puppets. Good taught others camera work during filming and video editing during post-production.

“We’re able to engage the technical crew kids in a different way than we normally would,” Samwick said.

Organizers decided to pre-record the production just in case Hanover sent students home for remote learning.

“This has been very different from any show I’ve worked on before, but this way we are able to stream the show and have people be able to watch it,” said Roberts, who was the winter show’s assistant director and is planning to study stage management in college.

Roberts’ mother, Jennifer Rickards, who is vice president of the Montshire Museum and who was instrumental in obtaining the pavilion for the outdoor fall show, has seen how important theater and extracurriculars have been in her daughter’s overall education, especially during the pandemic.

“They offer some joy and connection in an otherwise somber year, and they open up doors to new skills and interests,” Rickards said. “The arts, and theater specifically, have been transformative for Ellie. She has found a creative outlet and a community in the Footlighters.”

In the spring, the Hanover Footlighters hope to do the performance again outdoors. Wherever the stage may be, they hope to keep the show going.

“It might be a very small group, but for the kids who do it, it’s everything,” Samwick said. “For many of them, it’s their home within the school. It’s the place where they found their people. It’s the place where they found their passion.”




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