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The show must go on!

The stage may be dark, the seats may be empty, but our hearts are still filled with thoughts of the theater and the stories yet to be told …

The TA Players and many other areas of Thornton Academy were profoundly impacted by the pandemic that swept across the nation during the past year. The fall play, often a marquee moment during the semester, is now just one more victim of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The play entertained students, parents, teachers, and the general community for decades. David Hanright, the school’s drama club director, attributes the show’s importance to the “Mainer-kind-of-tradition for entertaining each other.”

With a deadpanned expression, he added, “I think it’s because the winters suck.”

But as with many other aspects of the school, the play has changed and become something different, something manageable during an outbreak. The upcoming fall production now consists of four radio shows, all written and produces by Hanright and the TA Players.

“I didn’t set out to write shows and have [the TA Players] perform them. I set out to do a fall play,” Hanright said.

Using a pre-written or professional show would have been difficult, if not impossible, given the logistical requirements.

Cast Members

The TA Players is the largest student club at Thornton Academy. Because of the sheer number of students involved, productions require compatible cast sizes.

The contract language often used when purchasing and licensing a professional show would mean that the cast and the school would have to set a specific show date and time to live-stream their production.

Online, independent, and original theater productions have opened up the opportunity for more shows and increased cast involvement.

The “Pandemic of Comedy” radio productions are Digger Man, At Home With The Schmankers, Alpha Gals, and Pacific Princess.

But as with many other aspects of school life today, it is not yet certain how the CDC’s recent green designation will affect the presentation of the final product.

“It’s proven to me that [theater] is way more important than people give it credit for,” Hanright said.

COVID-19 guidelines have prevented TA’s dramatists from gathering for rehearsal in person, but that hasn’t stopped them from virtually preparing their shows via Flipgrid and Zoom.

“I’m personally very curious to see what we can make out of this… I think a lot of people think, you know, “hey we have to find a way to get back to normal.” But, you know, I think this format has its own advantages, and I really want to see what we can do with it,” Jack Dumas ‘24 said.

Despite the capabilities of technology during this time, there is no denying that the TA Players miss their stage.

“The whole kind of draw for theater for a lot of people is the sense of community,” Aaron Bove ‘23 said.

This year’s “Pandemic of Comedy” will be released as a public recording later in the season, but a specific date has not been set. The TA Players hope their work will inspire their community.

“There’s a lot of people who come to watch the fall play every year, and so it will be kind of like a little bit of a reminder that things aren’t completely different, and they’re not going to stay different forever.” Logan New ‘23 said.

Madeline Darigan
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