A 'TikTok generation' fall production
While the pandemic-ravaged year of 2020 has crimped everything from dining to schooling to simple social gatherings, one group of local students leveraged those challenges into an unprecedented project.
The product of that creativity will be available for everyone to view on YouTube beginning Friday.
Woodburn High School Theatre parlayed remote learning into a video project, creating their own script and characters in the process, and will present "Today is Enough" as the group's fall production.
Director Caleb Thurston described the work as a hybrid; a cross between a film and a stage show. The theme will portray students negotiating high school during a pandemic. In some ways the creative process was an expedient one, simply doing what the group had to in order to realize a fall production.
"I think it just came down to the obstacles we were facing," Thurston said. "We knew we couldn't have rehearsals in the traditional, face-to-face way. We knew that getting the rights to stream a play online was going to be challenging. So with the obstacles given, we knew we needed to create our own play."
There was one other stipulation in the mix.
"Not doing it (fall production) was not an option," Thurston said. "There was so much energy there with the students wanting to put something together, one thing we could not do was nothing."
The students embraced the challenge of telling stories in unconventional ways, piecing together the script over the past six weeks with students filming their own lines in their own homes. In that respect, Thurston's tasks this year have been more akin to a film editor than a director.
"This is the TikTok generation; they are incredibly creative about creating these artful videos just using what they have in their own homes," Thurston said. "It is not what we wanted to do, necessarily, but the possibilities are really exciting."
The story follows three Woodburn High School seniors — played by actors Lesly Arroyo, Valerie Cottrell and Caleb Larson — as they navigate the realities of living during a pandemic. Thurston noted that the characters deal with obstacles such as choosing a college, being honest with your crush and overcoming social anxiety all under the cloud of pandemic.
It's a quick-paced mix of heavy and humorous moments. The production has some adult language and is recommended for middle school students and older.
"We knew we wanted it to be related to the pandemic, but we didn't want it to be a total downer," Thurston said, adding that the process has been ongoing via Zoom video since September. "We discussed what students in our age need to hear. What does the community need to hear?"
Through the process characters surfaced and were fleshed out.
Each Zoom rehearsal would pose a different challenge. For example, one assignment was to work in a small group and create a short story about what love looks like during a pandemic. They created and filmed scenes, some of which worked better than others.
"We played a lot with windows and mirrors as visual inspiration," Thurston said. "You will see even in the final product several scenes that feature windows and mirrors: window moments are like looking at someone else's life; mirror moments are like looking into our own lives."
From that emerged one character who is a daydreamer, always looking out the window, while another character looks in the mirror constantly and is very self-conscious.
"I think it's important that people know that it is definitely a hybrid between a film and a stage show," he added. "It's not a Hollywood film; we don't have a budget for that. We have seven or eight kids filming their own lives in their own homes and I've been piecing it together."
The YouTube link will be posted on the Woodburn High School Theatre website and through its various social media sites.
A YouTube link to Woodburn High School Theatre's fall production, "Today is Enough" will be posted Nov. 20 at https://tinyurl.com/woodburntheatre or on the group's various social media sites.
Virtual Devised Play Project
"Today is Enough"
Lesly Arroyo (team lead/actor/writer) "Elena"
Jasmine Chapman Macrum (actor/writer) "Jessica"
Haley Chaides (actor/writer) "Ms. Prune"
Val Cottrell (team lead/actor/writer) "Catherine"
Carmen Elsasser (actor/writer) "Catherine's Mom"
Kimberly Herrera (actor/writer) "Gabi"
Caleb Larson (actor/writer) "Richard"
Adrianna Lyman (actor/writer) "Alexandra"
Emily Granados (makeup designer/writer)
Shabryna Herrera (costume designer/writer)
Alexis Ortiz (environments designer/tech/writer)
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.