By Sophia Lewis (V)
This year, the Pingry Drama Department put on a successful Fall production, albeit in a different format due to COVID-19. Almost, Maine, by John Cariani, was picked for this year because of its format of nine small vignettes, which allowed for socially distant rehearsals. A play “for romantics, not for sentimentalists,” each of the segments is about love in its many different and sometimes comedic forms. All nine scenes take place in the town of Almost, Maine at 9:00 PM. Themes such as new love, marriage, and even the ending of a relationship are explored. Because of COVID-19, the stage directions calling for kissing, hugging, and handholding were off limits. So, throughout the play, the cast sought to answer a crucial question: How do we show love for someone during a pandemic?
Many other changes were made due to pandemic restrictions. For example, rehearsals were done primarily outside with masks on and with a limited number of people. Additionally, scenes were filmed before the dates of the live performances in the event that the school had to go remote. Unfortunately, the actual play was not on the Macrae Stage, but was instead performed outside in the middle of the Student Village. The set and tech crew had to assemble the set outside and then manage the tech equipment while protecting it from the elements. This included cold and rainy weather, with the stage freezing over halfway through opening night.
Despite the restrictions, the experience was still an enjoyable one for everyone involved. Cast member Grace Stowe (IV) stated that “doing Almost, Maine was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year- it was so wonderful to be able to connect with people during the pandemic.” Ronan McGurn (IV) agreed, saying: “It was pretty poggers [slang for amazing].” Student Director Anna Stowe (V) said that she was “beyond happy to be working with everyone because everyone worked so hard and never gave up hope even when we didn’t know if school would stay open.”
Thankfully, Almost, Maine was able to go forward as an in-person performance, and ended up a huge success. One audience member remarked, “I was blown away with the amount of commitment it took from both students and faculty to produce such a thought provoking show during a pandemic” and that “it was very enjoyable to watch as an audience member.” Not only was it a success, it was also COVID-safe; not a single member of the cast tested positive for or was contact traced for COVID-19 during the duration of rehearsals and performances. Senior class member Lily Arrom (VI) said that “even though I missed performing in Macrae, doing the show outside was actually really enjoyable, and I will definitely cherish my time spent performing at Pingry.”