COVID brings new changes to Perry Theatre


Cast of Perry Theatre after production of Peter and the Starcatcher

With the return to in-person learning, theatre programs throughout CUSD have made many different changes to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis. CDC guidelines, such as social distancing, have been a template for most of these recent changes. Some high school theatre programs have been hosting virtual productions over Zoom, which helps reduce the risk of COVID spreading. As Perry begins its transition to in-person learning, its theatre program has been exploring new ways of producing and performing plays in a post-COVID world.

Changes to Tech Theatre

Technical Theatre has been a very important part of Perry’s Theatre program, but with the pandemic and the challenges brought with it, some students find themselves confused about how much of an impact tech will have in the upcoming months.

Junior Margaret Harsen has been one of the many students wondering how Technical Theatre will be impacted as we return to campus, “As a student in tech, I’m incredibly confused about the future of our program.” 

With new systems being implemented in other schools, students are trying to understand their new place in Theatre. “Since the idea of a play performed over Google meets is being explored I find it difficult for some technical jobs to be done. Shifting, Lighting, and Sound techs might find themselves with nothing to do during performances,” Harsen states, “I think finding a job for the techies to do during performances is going to be difficult.”

Former tech student and junior Adia Harsen also has concerns as a fan of Theatre; “Online it’s impossible to use the shop to begin designing a set. So far there are no solid plans but we could be looking at an online play for this year. I am kind of bummed about it but safety is most important.”

Changes to the classroom

As we transition to in-person learning, changes in both Tech and Theatre classrooms will be introduced. Theatre teacher Shawna Marquis highlights some of these new protocols; “We have tables & desks that are spread out in the classroom. We will be using our space to spread out as much as possible for rehearsals, even rehearsing outside. Masks will be worn at all times as it is extremely difficult to maintain a safe distance with what we do.”

New sanitation procedures will also be implemented to help reduce the spread of COVID. “When working in the scene shop, all tools will be sanitized between use,” Marquis states, “The main difference is that any item that is used will also need to be sanitized before anyone else can use it. No sharing of props, costumes, wigs, etc.”

Changes to performances

In a post-COVID world, changes to performances will be applied to keep actors and attendees safe. Marquis goes on to say, “We will probably work on incorporating masks into performances and make it part of their [actor’s] costume. If microphones are used, there is to be no sharing. If we have an audience, the capacity is limited, like with sports. 25% capacity. Seating in the auditorium is specifically marked to keep audience members at a safe distance. Masks must be worn. Also, no cash. We will be moving to a completely cashless system for tickets and concessions.”

These new requirements being introduced to Theatre will help limit contact which can help reduce the spreading of the virus. Theatre is working hard to create, direct, and perform even more award-winning productions all while keeping students and staff safe. Theatre, as well as the rest of the school, will officially be returning to in-person learning on Oct. 13th.