Big Red Arts Groups Adapt to Covid-19 Fall

Due to in-person restrictions this year, acapella groups, Periwig, and instrumental groups on campus have had to adapt to carry out rehearsals and performances throughout the Fall Term.

Due to in-person restrictions this year, acapella groups, Periwig, and instrumental groups on campus have had to adapt to carry out rehearsals and performances throughout the Fall Term.

Virtual rehearsal and meetings have posed a challenge to acapella group leaders. Larries co-leader Kelsie Choi ’22 noted that because all acapella auditions are virtual, all students, including former acapella members, will be required to send in a solo video of themselves singing rather than auditioning in person. According to Choi, each group can also only have ten singers due to Covid-19 restrictions, requiring leaders to judge solely “based on talent regardless of Form or prior experience.”

The acapella groups are trying to find new ideas to implement during the Fall Term. VoiceMale co-leader Arata Fujii ’21 and Choi both mentioned the possibility of using 360-degree cameras to film performances, which would allow singers to stay socially distant from one another. VoiceMale co-leader Zack Finacchio ’21 hopes to form a II Form Acapella group, which he feels “would specifically be useful during Covid-19 times because it will make sure people are staying involved while also providing room in the groups for upperclassmen.” Choi has created “LCovers,” a social media platform for Lawrentians to share their musical talents.

Despite changes in function, acapella groups are hopeful that they can continue rehearsing and performing. On the Fall Term ahead, Fujii said, “We are going to do our best to get music out there and to entertain the School community.”

Periwig has adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic by replacing the annual fall musical with the play Clue. After a series of virtual auditions, the cast has been attending virtual rehearsals. Both Performing Arts Teacher Matthew Campbell and Technical Director James Cuthrell are working on the lighting, sound, and video aspects of the production, this year without the help of student tech groups.

Reflecting on the challenges associated with Covid-19, Cuthrell said, “The hardest thing in performing arts right now is not being face to face…I think [another big] challenge is the company not being able to come together and form the family bond that we usually build in the theater.”

Seeing as the company will only have two weeks together in-person before their performance over Parent’s Weekend, Cuthrell also noted that “not spending time together in the rehearsal space will be a big hurdle” for the upcoming production. Although it is undecided if there will be a live audience due to social-distancing protocols, Cuthrell said, “I have faith in the company that they will absolutely meet the challenge.”

For the music department, the biggest challenge is a lack of rehearsal space. With social distancing in place and Clark Music Center closed in the fall, larger musical groups such as the Lawrentians, orchestra, and band will be split into smaller groups. According to Chair of Performing Arts Keith Roeckle, rehearsals will take place in tents outdoors so that students stay six feet apart. In addition, some students will have to take special precautions to modify their instruments, such as by placing bell coverings onto brass instruments. Because students do “performing arts to perform and interact with others,” Roeckle and the rest of the Music Department is “taking as many steps as [they] can to make that happen.”

Looking ahead to potential fall term performances, Roeckle said, “We hope to have something out into the community, [even] if it is in the form of a video and not an in-person concert.” In addition, he hopes that the smaller group settings will allow students to experience more independence during rehearsals.

“Sometimes people can feel lost in larger ensembles because if you’re just one person out of 60 you can feel like a cog in a machine, but now we have the chance to contribute more,” he said.

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