Western club Plays4Us performed their quarterly production this past Saturday, May 23. This quarter, all auditions and rehearsals have been virtual, as was the show.
Plays4Us is a student theatre group that prides themselves on creating a low-stress environment to give students the opportunity to try parts of theatre that they’ve never tried before. Their productions are student written, directed, produced and performed.
This quarter is different for Plays4Us, as they’ve moved to the virtual world to continue their production. Auditions were held through video submissions instead of their normal cold reading session, with rehearsals following suit.
“While going back over those scripts I'm having to reorient my thinking from ‘how can I do this on stage’ to ‘how can I make this interesting on screen,’” artistic director Kaylyn Ledvina said.
The board consists of three Western students, technical director Gypsy Stefens, artistic director Ledvina and publicity and sound officer Clara King.
During fall productions, the group normally has 15-20 members, but the group gets a little smaller as the winter and spring shows approach, Ledvina said.
Ledvina said she is having fun using Zoom functions like soundsharing and backgrounds to add variation to the performances. She said the biggest learning curve has been patience with the internet, as connections can be unreliable and hearing others can be difficult.
Nathan Winney is a second-year at Western and is a returning Plays4Us member. Winney said that the Zoom aspect is interesting because in one of his shows the cast is performing as if they were all in the same space while the other play acts as if the show were actually hosted on Zoom.
Performing over a Zoom call is a challenge he never thought he’d have to face, but Winney said he wasn’t worried about it because of his amazing team and their efforts.
The board usually draws from a pool of scripts to determine their shows. This quarter, all of the scripts being used were written by graduating seniors.
Western fifth-year Luke Dooley is a playwright who submitted scripts to Plays4Us. This quarter was his third piece put on by them.
“I enjoy being able to see my scripts taken off the page and realized,” Dooley said. “Seeing how other creators change and better what I’ve written is always a treat to me.”
Dooley said his script featured a symbolic representation of the various effects of mental health.
Since starting his first year at Western, Winney has been in five performances, directed two and written one.
“I come back to P4U because the plays that people submit are so funky and weird that whatever I’m a part of is guaranteed to be unlike anything I’ve done before,” Winney said.
Winney said that he missed the pre-performance games and warm ups that Plays4Us usually does in person to get everyone loose and energetic. He said the absence of the stage environment and connections to people made this a very different experience than one he’s ever had before.
Nonetheless, Winney said he was still excited to perform.
“There may not be a budget, and the rehearsal process may only be two weeks, but it’s pure theatre and pure love. That’s why I keep coming back, and why I always will,” Winney said.