A Pandemic, a Play, and a Performance

Ainsley Swenson

This October, DeForest Area School District students returned to the high school’s Performing Arts Center to put on a thirty-minute show (one-act) of John Cariani’s play, Almost Maine, to enter in a statewide competition.


This play has eight actors and includes a selection of short scenes that discuss love, loss, and finding one’s self. This show also has all stories ending with the magical appearance of the northern lights.



You may wonder how this is possible. Aren’t plays viewed by an audience? How can you have an audience in the middle of a pandemic?


The answer to these questions is, the play is being recorded and submitted to different rounds of a statewide one-act competition. A new round starts about every two weeks, with the first one beginning this week. After each round, the group receives feedback and is told if they have been selected to move forward in the competition.


Since the one-act is recorded, the show can be put on while meeting all COVID-19 regulations. There are only ever ten people in the PAC at a time, along with two people in the tech booth (this is a different room and is therefore still meets COVID-19 regulations).


Even though regulations are being followed, there is still the question of if the participants feel safe going to school right now. 


Junior stage crew member, Camden Benish, said that since we only have a few people participating that he would say “it is pretty safe, just for us” but he went on to say that he would not feel safe if we were to go back to in-person classes. 



Although, it is not just people from the stage crew who feel safe at rehearsals. Senior actor, Clare O’Connor, said that “people are doing a good job of protecting themselves and others so far” and that as long as the cast and crew “keep it up” everyone should stay safe.


When speaking on what motivated him to participate in this year’s competition one-act, Benish also said that he “really did just want to come back [and] see some of the people [he] know[s], some of [his] friends.” He also stated that he wanted to “help out the drama department.”


According to members of both the cast and crew, the one-act has been a really safe experience. As O’Connell said, if everyone “keeps [s] it up” then they should be safe for the rest of the competition season.