Actors and Directors Kick off WinterFest “B” Night
On February 19 and 20, the Lawrenceville community gathered to watch WinterFest B night.
On February 19 and 20, the Lawrenceville community gathered to watch WinterFest B night. Performances included The Spot directed by Ashley Gelber ’21, Katie Li ’21, and assistant director Elizabeth Pierre-Louis ’22, Your Mother’s Butt directed by Ellis Addleman ’21 and Jordan Brown ’21, Just Be Frank directed by Calli Colvin ’22 and assistant director Tiffany Wen ’23, A Passion Play directed by Lily Hooge ’23, and Groves of Academe directed by Lucrezia DiVincenzo ’21 and Eleni Lefakis ’21. While Zoom performances have created new challenges, the directors have found ways to navigate the hurdles of the virtual rehearsal process.
During the preparation process, many directors and actors struggled to rehearse on the online platform. Wen, the assistant director of Just Be Frank, noted that the biggest challenge was “acting through Zoom, as it has been more difficult trying to get the scope of the actors and what they’re feeling.”
Directors Lekakis and DiVincenzo agreed, with DiVincenzo explaining, “there’s a lot of staging…[and] a lot of important physical movement at the climax of the show, but how are you supposed to portray that over Zoom?”
In addition, Gelber noted the challenges of the virtual acting itself, saying, “there’s only so much acting that can come from sitting in one spot…It feels like those 1920s silent films where the acting is very dramatic because you…can’t physicalize, so there’s less to critique. Instead, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we try to pitch our voices differently? How can you throw up your arms a different way?’”
Despite this, the directors have all found different ways to interpret the plays they are producing. According to Colvin, Just Be Frank is “a comedy and a lighthearted drama. [It’s about] the levels of friendship and relationship between an office and that dynamic.” What originally attracted her to the play was “its lightheartedness…I thought [this play] had the same level of humor as The Office, my favorite TV show,” she explained.
Co-director of The Spot Li described her play’s “characters [as] bombastic and satirical. [The play] mocks political campaigns and the insincerity of politicians…a lot of the characters [exhibit] the message that people are not as earnest or honest as you think.”
For DiVincenzo, co-director of Groves of Academe, “what initially drew [her] to the play was how the professor essentially [acts as] a parent to the college student. It reminded me of how we sometimes grow incredibly emotionally attached to the teachers at Lawrenceville.”
Her co-director, Lekakis, agreed, “there is something about the play that makes you think, ‘This is sweet. This is a moment I want people to see.’”
Reflecting on the overall process, Colvin said, “While I definitely wish we were in person...we really got to create something special together with the actors [over Zoom]. It’s brought a light to virtual learning that I hadn’t experienced last spring.”
Wen and Colvin both emphasized the experience they had working together. “It’s been really fun…getting to work with so many different people and learning about the technicalities of how to direct a show,” Wen mentioned.
Other directors shared similar sentiments, with DiVincenzo reflecting, “I was pleasantly surprised with how it went. I hate Zoom with a burning passion, but there’s a really good dynamic [between] our actors. We always have a good time.”
Lefakis added, “when it’s not tech week or when we’re not on edge it’s pretty fun. It’s definitely been tiring but also a surprisingly good time.”
Despite the challenges, Gelber also noted that “Zoom, for all its faults, allowed me to take the risk [of directing]. This year [has] been so different and strange that I decided I might as well try. WinterFest is my favorite part of the year and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Li continued, remarking, “I’ve always wanted to direct a play, so being able to successfully execute this is a dream come true.”