The Theater and COVID-19: What Part Will the Virus Play?


Dillon Fondren

Marcus Greco ’23 operates the camera in the early trials of this year’s “play” production

Charlotte Ray and Dillon Fondren

Even with all the challenges that the coronavirus has added to the 2020-2021 school year, another is now coming into focus: How will the traditional plays be performed while following social distancing guidelines, mask mandates, and other regulations?

Rather than an in-person performance this year, the play will be videotaped scene by scene and compiled into a film to be shared with the community. The script has been created by the members of the play production elective. Arsenic and Old Lace (the play originally scheduled for Spring 2020) will be postponed but brought back as soon as possible. 

The current script is almost finished and official casting is almost complete. Similar to previous Falmouth Academy productions, conversations about sets, props, and costumes have already started. But with the filming aspect, a whole new set of variables are under consideration for the performance. Now camera angles, editing, and masks have become a priority, giving the production a larger margin for creativity and a more welcoming environment for actors’ mistakes: when filming, an infinite number of retakes can be done, ensuring the perfect performance, while in-person plays rely on the live experience.

The main goal of this year’s project was to “write a play – a film – about communication,” said Mrs. Elisabeth Ledwell, the head of the drama department and director of this ‘play,’ whose story spans “over four different generations.”  The plot follows a girl, Chloe, and her adventure discovering and piecing together her family’s past. 

“We are getting ready to film next week,” said Mrs. Ledwell. “Our plan is to film over the winter and have the finished product by the end of the second trimester.” 

Marcus Greco 24’ was in his first Falmouth Academy production last year but has acted in many Falmouth Theatre Guild plays before that. He was planning to act in this year’s play, but when the role of cameraman opened up, Marcus knew that he could become the videographer and have fun doing it.

“For the past two months we have been focusing on writing a script for the play because we had to create our own play to fit within COVID-19 guidelines,” Marcus said.  

Mrs. Ledwell and the members of the play production elective are working on coming up with camera angles that work around the actors’ masks. From over the shoulder and distanced shots, to filming at home, to taking advantage of the weather and outside spaces, decisions are still being made as to how the camera will be set up to suggest the idea that the story takes place in a time where the virus is non-existent, while still monitoring distancing and safety measures on set. 

Marcus noted that with a film, files could get lost or ruined, and technical hiccups could have major repercussions. Marcus has never acted without a live audience, but he has been in live plays that were recorded for people to watch later. He has mostly taught himself by filming YouTube videos and through real-world experience. Ultimately, he’s very excited about the play. 

“While we can’t see you in person we are confident that the 2020 Falmouth Academy Fall/Winter Play will delight you all!”