This year’s Festival of Plays was a stark deviation from years past, what did the actors think?

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Ethan Thomas, Staff Writer

With Covid-19 running through our country, it appears obvious that we should not have large gatherings of people. Without large gathering, what about our performing arts? Who would they perform to? Limitations are on the amount of people that can gather together. Meaning there is no way the Jenison Thespians can perform for an audience.

Challenges faced by the Cast

The Festival of Plays is a series of brief play productions written, directed, and performed by the Jenison Thespians. So the thespians faced the issue head on. With video calls and messages taking front and center stage in this pandemic, the Jenison thespians decided that they would have to record the performance beforehand and post it online. However, while many felt that it was necessary, not all saw it as a good change. Some Jenison thespians say that performing in front of a crowd is better than just recording it. “It’s easier performing in front of a live audience because the actors get their energy off of the audience. Performing for a camera was most definitely a challenge.” says Izzy Krzewski, a member of the cast of the Festival of Plays. However, it just was not possible to host an audience for the Festival of Plays this year. 

The thespians feel that while the situation with the festival is not ideal, they did their best and are proud of the work that they put out. “I feel it went as well as it possibly could have under the given circumstances. I’m proud of how all the shows turned out!” says Connor Vachon, director of this year’s play 12 Angry Jurors. The thespians did the best they could, given the dilemmas of  this year, something that we’ve all had to do given these trying times. No one expected our year to turn out like this, so it is understandable that this year’s plays would be harder to produce. 

Possible Improvements

The thespians are proud of their work, but also feel that there could’ve been improvements to this year’s festival. One noted issue was the quality of the video and audio. “I feel like our video quality could have improved a little bit.” says Izzy Krzewski. Another thespian, Maddy Steinbeck states, “Our play (9 worst breakups) was not edited as well as the others and JCA staff would not do lights for us/ would not stop talking while we filmed.” Clear improvements could be made, and could be kept in mind for the future should a situation in which it must be done online arises. It could also be kept in mind for the possibility recording the live show to put it online for future years.

Many thespians are happy with the overall quality of this year’s festival. However, as Connor Vachon says, “Of course it would have been nice to have a live audience, I think we all could have used some more time to film and edit to perfect our tapes. However, live theatre is full of mistakes, so I feel the minor mistakes in the recordings reflect that live theatre feeling we were going for.”

Thank You

For those who want to watch this year’s Festival of Plays, it can be found here at https://youtu.be/siOj-7tgUYI?list=PLUhoxxxeM5hBayldy_Dvq6j3zZvETT2px. It certainly is not the best situation for our Jenison Thespians. However, they made the best of the current events to produce a wonderful series of plays this year. Thank you to all the Jenison thespians that wrote, directed, and performed in this year’s Festival of Plays!