With Episcopal’s shift to hybrid learning, Theater Director Mallory Nonnemaker faced the challenge of producing a fall play, building a tight-knit cast and crew, and ensuring that everyone would contribute, including those participating remotely. Nonnemaker devised a creative solution, designing a production that will incorporate both live and virtual elements and feature contributions from students on The Holy Hill but also as far away as China — something that’s never been done before at EHS.
The play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is adapted from a novel by Mark Haddon. It follows the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, as he discovers the body of a neighborhood dog and attempts to solve the mystery of its killing. The story, narrated from Christopher’s perspective, takes the reader inside the mind of the protagonist as he puzzles out what happened.
Because of its first-person narration, the play was the perfect choice for a hybrid performance incorporating virtual and recorded aspects. “So much of the play occurs within the main character’s mind and from his perspective,” she says. “We thought that video could be a great way to illustrate the narration and thoughts that occur inside his head.”
Of the 10 participants in this year’s fall theater afternoon option, six (four actors and two tech crew members) are on campus, two are virtual and participating synchronously, and two are international students attending EHS from home and participating asynchronously.
The performances, which take place Nov. 12-14, will include live and recorded elements, Nonnemaker explains. “We will pre-record some of the parts on Zoom this week with our international students, using backgrounds designed by our tech crew, which will then be projected for the live performance. Some of the scenes will be fully recorded — like a movie — where both actors are projected, and some will involve a live actor responding to a recording.”
Chris Kim ’21, who plays Christopher, says, “The play has so many technical elements that help the audience envision Christopher's world, so that works very well with the virtual elements we are trying to incorporate.”
Led by Chris and fellow seniors, Eli Wilcox and Tabitha Cahan, the student-actors and tech crew have been very enthusiastic about the innovative approach. “It’s a creative challenge for all of us,” Nonnemaker says, “and I am always happy to showcase the students’ creativity. They’ve been working really hard and I’ve been so impressed with their willingness to do something so different.”
Kim says of his experience working with his virtual castmates: “I have always loved acting, mainly because of the community and partnerships that we develop with our castmates. Especially now, seeing how everyone is still very dedicated to their craft is very inspiring.”
Cast List: Christopher John Francis Boone: Chris Kim ’21 Mr. Ed Boone: Eli Wilcox ’21 Mrs. Judy Boone/Voice Four and Six: Banks Krause ’23 Siobhan: Annabelle Baird ’22 Voice One and Three /Mrs. Shears/ Mrs. Wise/ Mrs. Gascoyne/ Woman on Train/ Shopkeeper/ Station Guard: Taylor Ballinger ’22 Roger Shears: Baker Zhan ’24 Voice Two and Five/ Mrs. Alexander/ All other policewomen: Tabitha Cahan ’21 Information: Grace Ouyang ’24 Rev. Peters: Rev. Richmond Jones