EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - EBHS Drama Club is a place of interaction and collaboration. Crew and cast members come together to produce a fall play and spring musical every year, as well as smaller events like Improv Night and 24 Hour Playfest. However, Drama Club’s typical shows aren’t possible in the traditional sense this year. The club has seen its fair share of difficulties due to COVID-19. Last year’s spring musical Guys and Dolls was canceled right before opening night.
And yet, the members of the club are staying positive. Eilam Ben-Zvi, a junior at EBHS and member of Drama Club since his freshman year, shared that while dealing with the canceled musical was hard on the cast and crew, they tried to keep spirits up.
“Even if it didn’t happen, I learned some awesome dances and I met some pretty cool people,” Ben-Zvi said.
Drama Club’s continued creativity and dedication has allowed them to figure out new and innovative ways to continue working together. For this year’s fall play, they’re planning to put on a devised work encompassing the theme of human interaction.
A devised work is very different from a traditional play. In this form of theater, there is no script: actors have to explore a theme through improvisation, then either film their improv directly or write a script based on it. By putting on this type of production, Drama Club members will fully immerse themselves in the creative process. This means students must take on multiple roles improvising scenes, developing vignettes, writing scripts, and recreating them with full characterization.
This experimental show is also new for Mr. Davis, the EBHS Drama Club advisor for the past 16 years. He’s nervous about producing a play without a script, but he shares the cast’s hope that the club can find positivity in the situation they’ve been put in. “Parameters force creativity,” is something he always tells his students.
“If you start with something that boxes you in a little bit, then you can creatively solve the problem,” Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Davis intends to structure the play by breaking it into short chapters known as vignettes. Each one will cover a different theme surrounding human interaction. In fact, the members were asked to audition with a short improvised or scripted monologue on the theme of isolation, which Mr. Davis hopes will be a possible starting point for a few of the stories.
In addition, the club has to be creative with the way they rehearse and film. While they can meet in small groups socially distanced, another possibility involves setting up cameras within the students’ homes. This way, each student can film individually to produce multiple videos, which can then be put side-by-side for a conversation or scene.
When asked about the timeliness of year’s fall play, Ben-Zvi said that exploring the idea of human interaction and isolation is “very fitting, especially now that we all really understand it, and we’ve all felt it.” It’s a show that will truly challenge the actors while creating an amazing and formative experience.
human interaction: a devised work will be streaming virtually on ebhs.booktix.com starting December 11th. Come check it out and support Drama Club.