When the last student’s Zoom window opens in her gallery view, Lindsay Brustein officially begins rehearsal. She leads the young players through a variety of full-body stretches and enunciation exercises. Even though their performance of “A Christmas Carol” will be prerecorded and streamed for audiences, Brustein knows from years of teaching theatre that clarity is key.
“Your voice is in the back of your throat; shoot it out there — straight like a dart,” she advised her students via her computer.
Throughout October and November, the actors and crew rehearsed every scene. When Brustein felt they were ready, she asked them to retreat to their home recording studios — often a small closet — and preserve their best take for the performance.
“The actors each uploaded their individual recordings and then our sound editors mixed them into one final recorded audio file,” Brustein explained. “Once we had all the takes and retakes we needed, the tech team edited the sound and added sound effects and music to complete the radio show.”
Although prepping a performance while engaging remotely has proven challenging, the experience has enabled Upper School theatre students to try something new. “The format allows us to follow best safety protocols, plus it is the most inclusive of all of our students,” she said. “Recording the play online has enabled us to cast actors living all over the world. Two of our cast members participated from their homes in China.
“Another benefit of the radio play structure is that we could listen to early takes of our recordings and learn from them,” Brustein added. “The actors were really thoughtful about what they wanted to work on based on those early takes, and we largely based the last few weeks of rehearsal on their feedback.”
Brustein's pride in her students is evident. “I have been so impressed with the resilience and flexibility our students have shown throughout this process,” she said. “Despite the fatigue of going to school all day in a hybrid model, our students hopped online for an additional two hours every day for rehearsals and gave it their all. It has been such a blessing to work with them on this project.”
The Upper School production of “A Christmas Carol” radio play will be audio-streamed on YouTube on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 12 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m. You can access the performance on those days and times via the links below: