Geneva High School Troupe 3141 in Geneva, Ohio was devastated when they had to cancel their production of Disney’s Beauty a nd the Beast right before it opened last March. Troupe director, Robin Christopher, and her students struggled to find a silver lining. Robin reached out to the Educational Theatre Association in April for advice. “I just need some help–someone to talk us through this and figure out a solution. We are not ready to give up,” she declared.
This fall, Robin again reached out to EdTA, this time to share an inspiring update. After postponing their spring production multiple times, Robin listened to the stories her students were sharing about the personal impact COVID-19 had made on their lives and realized that these narratives needed to be captured and shared. “I took the stories they told me and spent three weekends writing the play, Changing Our Voices in Distress (acronym COVID) while the students rehearsed completed scenes,” Robin explained. “The no-contact, socially distanced play follows twelve students through nine months of living through the pandemic. The play captures funny moments of toilet paper hoarding and hybrid schedules while dealing with the tragedies of depression, illness, and death. The usual challenges teens face including relationships, the stress of school and family, and the need to belong are also addressed. The play unfolds through a series of phone calls and zoom meetings, making the show a safe option for the students. Changing Our Voices in Distress has provided the students with an opportunity to not only perform again, but to share their own struggles with COVID.”
Geneva theatre students maximized their reach by giving audience members three options for viewing their performance. They held three in person performances for a socially distanced and masked audience, livestreamed those performances for those who wanted to watch at home, and are currently wrapping up a Zoom version, to be released before Thanksgiving.
“I just wanted to let you know that, with this play, our theatre troupe has found some closure (although Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is not entirely off the table for March),” Robin concluded. “Thank you so much for your encouragement in the spring–and we are so happy that we have found a way to create theatre even in these difficult times.”
Click here to see a trailer of Geneva High School’s Zoom production of Changing Our Voices in Distress.
Would you like to help a school find a way to produce theatre in the midst of a pandemic? Consider a donation to the Educational Theatre Foundation.