In the town of Llareggub, a fictional Welsh town, lie the lives of extraordinary yet ordinary people. This is the chosen play for the drama department’s online production this year.
The COVID-19 restrictions did not burn out the limelight of the aspiring cast and crew of Under Milk Wood, Greystone Theatre’s first show of the school year. Met with the hardships of the pandemic in the music and arts scene, the cast and crew planned for a possible virtual show right from the beginning. The play ran from Feb. 11 to 13, using YouTube as the online platform where audiences tuned in.
Part of planning was finding the right medium and learning new digital programs, says fourth-year theatrical design student Milaine Curé.
“Although it was really challenging, it was also really rewarding,” Curé said.
For third-year drama design student Jill Jeffrey, what was challenging about her video editing role was not being in the same room actively collaborating with the actors. She says that the actors had to send their own videos of scenes since they could not do it in person.
“I might have something pictured in my mind where I’d like this angle with this sort of lighting with this length and time, and then what they sent me was completely different,” Jeffrey said. “At the same time, it was also nice because then I can see what they were visualizing.”
Kei Tanaka, fourth-year studio arts student, says that communicating her vision to the team was challenging. This is because it was all done virtually, where she had to hold her work up close to the camera for all to see as opposed to gesturing to the pictures in person.
The 3D-model background of the play was created by Tanaka. It showed a depiction of Llareggub, which means “bugger all” if you are to read it backwards. Tanaka says that it was important for the background to be relatable to the actors to make up the absence of a real stage.
“I had to make my art into a world that the actors can be like, ‘Oh, yes, that one’s my house.’ I tried to make the houses different from each other, so it could be someone’s personality,” Tanaka said.
The billowy strokes of paint in Tanaka’s creation of the town, paired with the soothing voice of English master’s student Emily Pickett in her role as First Voice, introduced the play with a mysterious and curious tone.
Another notable moment was fourth-year acting student Maxwell Folk in his depiction of Captain Cat, especially in the first scenes with his castmates Ashton Turner, Ian Kimpton, Jonny Macpherson, Xander Scribante and Liam Johnston, where they looked like floating heads in the sea. If the show had a poster, it would show this scene.
The whole cast did a marvelous job crafting their skills to fit the current model of today’s virtual theatrical stage. Curé says that the actors didn’t actually know what was going on in their online surroundings during the performance.
“If you think about it, you’re basically doing a monologue and you are standing in your bedroom and trying to get into character,” Curé said.
Greystone’s version of Under Milk Wood was most momentous and worthy of a crown. Despite the trials, the cast and crew produced a play that was extraordinarily executed. It was a feat to remember for many because even with barriers, the show went on.
“This is a really interesting and unique opportunity that we … never intended on doing,” Jeffrey said. “I think it’s been a unique opportunity for us to learn some skills that can definitely be used later in our careers.”