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Wilsonville High theatre department will present play about alien invasion May 29-31

COURTESY PHOTO: WILSONVILLE HIGH THEATRE - The Wilsonville High theatre department is performing the play 'Crush' online via Zoom.

Reminiscent of both cinema and video conferencing calls with friends, the Wilsonville theatre department is preparing a production unlike any of its predecessors.

With restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus barring it from hosting a traditional spring play, the Wildcat program decided to venture into the virtual realm to bring theatre to the community.

The department is hosting online viewings of its play "Crush," which is about teenagers' attempt to rescue the planet from an alien invasion, online at 7 p.m. May 29-31. The performances are free to watch but the department is accepting donations.

Director Jason Katz began the audition process for the play in March, unaware that the coronavirus crisis would put the production in jeopardy. The following week, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District announced the closure of schools.

"I would never have been able to do it if we hadn't had auditions," Katz said. "It would have been impossible."

Despite not knowing whether the play would ever be performed, Katz told actors to stay ready. And about a month later, the district told teachers they could conduct Zoom meetings with students, thus providing the opportunity for rehearsals.

Since then, actors have logged into Zoom to practice their parts in preparation for the performances.

"What is making it work well is that the dialogue is well written, relationships are clear and characters are fun and interesting," Katz said. "It's really working on Zoom. The drama of the play is there even if the visual stuff that would be on stage is not there."

One unique aspect of the show, which also might be a stress reliever for actors, is that it won't be performed live. Instead, Katz will record scenes, edit them, add a few special effects like alien and spaceship sounds, and then post the final product online.

"It's a little bit like a movie with really neutral sets," Katz said.

The Zoom application features the person who is speaking prominently, so the scenes will include back-and-forth dialogue between actors. They also at times make physical gestures to indicate that the characters are supposed to be in the same room.

"When we started out the kids were sitting down at their desks when we were doing Zoom calls. Really quickly it became clear they had to stand up," Katz said. "We need to be able to see their chest up, half their body, so they can act out the characters and use their physicality. If they're just sitting it would be boring."

Donations collected will go toward expenses related to putting on future plays. Katz hopes people will consider supporting the department if they can.

And, regardless, Katz thinks locals will enjoy the show.

"Hopefully they will get out of it that theatre and doing creative work is really important to kids and it helps motivate them and that it's fun even if school isn't in session," he said.

For more information on the play, visit https://wildcatdrama.com.


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