Reporter Jennica Ruan also contributed to this article.
The students of Play Production held their first play this year virtually. The presentation was held on March 24th through Zoom. Many people attended the show, from students to teachers, as well as the Mayor. The show began at 2:30 PM and featured three plays written and directed by the students. The three plays presented were called “Boys Don’t Cry,” “A Blind Reading” and “You’re Not Lonely, You’re Just in Solitude.”
Advisor Leanne DeRosa originally planned “on doing a bunch of workshops with [the students] and trying to get them to learn new skills.” They started the school year planning their state festival scripts, “which is how the self-scripted shows came about.” Everyone proposed different ideas relating to the current events such as topics like mental health. They wanted to produce plays with the intention of showing how the current events affected the students personally and the Malden community.
The students chose what groups they worked in and managed their own shows. From deciding when to meet to managing what parts they wanted to edit, the process was all student-driven. DeRosa stated that “it [would not] have been as rich of an experience for them” if she managed all three shows.
Her expectations for the students were “that they make art, that art is meaningful to them and their community and [she thinks] they achieved that.” DeRosa is “super proud” of what the students were able to accomplish. She does, however, wish that they had more time physically to prepare and help guide them.
This year was sophomore Kiele Nino De Guzman’s first year acting and being part of the Play Pro community at Malden High. She gained interest in Play Pro through her sister Leilani, who is also in Play Pro.
Guzman played the character Devin in “You’re Not Lonely, You’re Just in Solitude.” Sophomore Penelope Buckingham and Senior Olivia Dacey collaborated on writing the script. The idea came together after they wrote down the experiences they had during the pandemic and how much they lost and gained. Distanced relationships became the topic for this play where the characters, Devin and Amelia, chat through Google Meet and have a conflict with one another.
She described how acting online “[is not] the full experience as being in person.” Still, she “felt very accepted into the Play Pro community” and added that “[she] really enjoyed doing the play virtually.” Guzman enjoyed doing the play online and thought it was not that difficult. She described how managing a script through a screen was not ideal but manageable.
After many practices, run-throughs, rehearsals, discussions, and collaborating with each other, the message she and her crew wanted to convey was “to be considerate” and “even though [it is] hard, everyone is going through it, and we are all trying our best to work together to make ourselves more comfortable because we never really planned to be in this [situation]”.
Senior Isabella Geronimo directed the play “You’re Not Lonely, You’re Just in Solitude.” She looked forward to directing for the first time since she has been the actor. She wanted her vision to come right out of her mind and presented on a stage. Geronimo was inspired by past students who directed to “switch things up.” .
There were many difficulties directing through a screen. Many facial expressions had to be done, certain hand movements had to be made, and more props had to be used to convey the audience better. Geronimo stated that “the crew listening to her directions made the process way easier and helped a lot.” She also explained how Buckingham and Guzman “collaborated on thoughts” but also added to her ideas.
Geronimo explained that the pandemic was something they wanted to incorporate so “people see that they are not alone and that everyone else is also suffering through this” but to also “see the ways they have gotten through this [pandemic] so far.” The show was named “2020 Survival Guide” because Play Pro wanted to show all the ways they suffered through a pandemic but also to show all the ways they got through it.
Geronimo wanted to show students that there are still ways to communicate with one another. She expressed how tough the pandemic has been for everyone and added “[talking] to each other and [being] there for one another” can help us get through it.
Senior Ronald Batista played the character Jeremiah in “Boys Don’t Cry.” Performing virtually was an interesting and new experience for him. He talked about how “[they are] all used to performing on stage with an audience and getting that energy and feedback,” so it was interesting to navigate this new format with each other. The biggest change for Batista was not being able to feed off the energy of the audience. For him, personally, he likes having an audience, so that was something new for him to not have. Overall, the final product came out better than he expected.
The students had to film and direct themselves which was an interesting dynamic. Navigating the production of the videos was a difficult process. The videos were recorded and sent to media teacher James Valente to edit.
After the presentation, a live Q&A session was held for the viewers to ask the cast questions. DeRosa hinted at Play Productions' next project which is a musical held live in-person on June 11th and 12th.
Watch the productions down below.