Playful Plays with Periwig

This past Saturday at 8:30 PM, the Periwig Council hosted "Periwig Springfest," a play reading of three comedy shorts, over a virtual live Zoom webinar. Coordinated by Performing Arts Master Matthew Campbell and written by Lawrenceville School Student Activities Assistant Coordinator Ian August, this session is the first of a five part student-led series that the Periwig Council has prepared for this spring.

This past Saturday at 8:30 PM, the Periwig Council hosted "Periwig Springfest," a play reading of three comedy shorts, over a virtual live Zoom webinar. Coordinated by Performing Arts Master Matthew Campbell and written by Lawrenceville School Student Activities Assistant Coordinator Ian August, this session is the first of a five part student-led series that the Periwig Council has prepared for this spring.

According to Campbell, Springfest was "Periwig's response to our being away from Lawrenceville…[by] keeping the performing theater arts alive while we are scattered across the globe." It provides an opportunity not only for those already part of the Periwig Council to get back into theatre, "but also other Lawrentians who may have never experienced something like this to support or hear a certain play."

The transition into virtual spring has changed the process of preparing and rehearsing plays. "The process has been a little truncated. Typically…directors take quite a bit of time to select from bodies of works that they find interesting and then they submit an application. These applications…go through the process of vetting and then putting together what is essentially the best collection of plays with the great teams for the production," Campbell said.

However, "this time around…the process of picking the plays and kind of picking what we were going to do was basically a conversation with a number of Perwig members, thinking through what could happen and what seems reasonable with our time constraints." Ultimately, Campbell explained that he decided on three rather "light-hearted materials…because that would hopefully draw in a larger audience."

Ian August, the playwright of this performance, believes that although "there was no direct connection between the three pieces…there were little things that surfaced," which allowed the three plays to come together.

Due to various conflicting schedules, the play reading only underwent two rehearsals. Director Eleni Lefakis '21 says that the process was "a lot less rehearsal intensive than our regular shows" because there was no need to rehearse blocking, or where the actors would stand on stage.

Fellow director Bobby Cloninger '22 echoed similar sentiments regarding acting selections: "You have to sort of fall back on what you know [and] go with your gut…consider a variety of roles rather than casting someone who hasn't done a lot of acting that you think would work really well for the role."

For both Lefakis and Cloninger, audience participation seemed to be the largest difficulty with virtual performances. Lefakis stated that "a lot of theater comes from interacting with the audience and obviously you can't have everybody with a video on or everybody unmute it all the time."

Cloninger added, "there's something about having a physical connection between you…and your audience, so…when you take it virtually, it's really hard to incorporate the audience." Nevertheless, he said that "all the actors are super talented and we knew they would succeed. The directors did a great job in organizing their show and most importantly, [August] wrote incredible plays which we were able to perform."

Looking forward, Campbell said, "The goal for these performances is to keep us tied to the things that we love. Seeing each other in virtual format, sharing ideas, playing with what theater is, is intended to keep us connected as we go throughout the spring."

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