“Encore!” is Forced to Adapt to a New Reality

From new show formats to the musical coming second semester, Encore!’s 2020-2021 year will be very different.

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Encore! has a meeting on Zoom to discuss the virtual variety show. (Photo by Caden Moe)

Caden Moe, Opinion Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a massive impact on just about every aspect of our regular lives. Many activities that cannot be safely performed are either being cancelled or reworked to get around the issue. GCHS’s theatre program, Encore!, is almost completely altering their show lineup for the year.

For the past five years, Encore! consistently performed their yearly musical in the first semester and their shows for the IHSA CPGI competition and the senior directed one-acts in the second semester. However, concerns about the safety of performing at this stage of the pandemic led to this year’s musical, The Theory of Relativity, being pushed to second semester.

“We opted to move the musical; that was the first big shift,” said Encore! sponsor Maureen Ritter. “We are hopeful that the spring will be a little bit safer. Musicals are a high velocity activity that requires a lot of breath. So […] we’re hopeful that maybe it’s a little bit less unsafe [in the spring].”

This is not to say that Encore! is not doing any shows during the first semester. As a matter of fact, they have two brand new formats they are trying out–the virtual variety shows and the ABC shows.

The main thing that sets the virtual variety shows apart from Encore!’s usual brand is that, as the name implies, they will be done entirely virtually. The shows will consist of a variety of different acts, including skits, musical numbers, monologues, and more.

“The cool part is that most of it is going to be led by the students,” said senior and Encore! executive board member Colby Staral. “So students are going to write, direct, and act for the virtual variety shows.”

Meanwhile, the ABC shows are a group of three one-acts designed to go along with the hybrid learning schedule.

“Assuming that the hybrid schedule stays the same, there will be a one-act for each day, and rehearsals and tech calls would occur on that day,” said Staral. “So each day there’s a third of the students in the school, and that third of the company is the one performing their respective ABC show.”

With the lean towards a virtual format for the shows, many new opportunities are being brought about for enhancing them, the virtual variety shows in particular. Normally, plays are restricted by what can be performed on stage, but a lot of potential is brought about through the ability to edit.

“We’ve started exploring some ideas like using virtual backgrounds to create scenery and doing video manipulation so that we can edit in different things,” said head of tech Sean Evans. “Perhaps things that are recorded in different places and different times can get edited together seamlessly.”

Despite the stressful time students are currently living through, Encore! is working to keep things fun for those who participate.

“I think it’s no surprise like anybody who’s done Encore! knows being in a show is really stressful,” said Ritter. “But I think that with all of the other things that are going on in the world, school is kind of chaotic. We don’t want theater to be something where people feel stressed out. We just want to explore new, fun, things and have as many opportunities to get new faces in.”