This fall, The Hun School’s Performing Arts department certainly found themselves in new territory when they were met with the challenge of piecing together a completely virtual production. And this past weekend, the Janus Players met that challenge with finesse as they presented a historic radio production of Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors!
The student performers spent their days leading up to the pre-recorded show learning lines, practicing scenes, and rehearsing over Zoom. With no in-person interaction, physical props, costumes, or set to perform on, the Janus Players were forced to focus on the art of voice acting, ambiance, and sound effects to enhance the dialogue of the show.
Bill Esher, theatre director, notes that since the Janus Players weren’t able to rely on a physical set and performance, it was the perfect opportunity to hone their theatrical voices.
“Since this was a radio show, it is all voice acting,” he said. “The audience doesn’t get to see your face or physical gestures to support the dialogue; the student performers had to really focus on the use of their voice to conjure up the images that the audience would normally see, in their mind’s eye. Not to mention, to accurately portray their characters, they all needed to master specific accents.”
Daniel Brugger ’22, who played the role of Doctor Westfeldt, said that although rehearsals came with their fair share of technical difficulties, doing a virtual show was the educational experience that he needed to become a better performer.
“The most difficult part of the production was dealing with technical obstacles, since we rehearsed scenes over Zoom it was sometimes hard to deal with the occasional lag and people freezing,” he said. “But, this experience definitely made me more comfortable performing over video and I learned that you don’t have to be in-person to put on a great show.”
Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors! was the first production The Janus Players put on since last winter, and collectively, the students were elated to work together again and add a virtual production to their repertoire.