As You Like It: Interviews With the Cast and Crew

by Giselle Wu

News

February 25, 2022

After nearly two years of performing on Zoom, Boston University Academy’s Drama Club has made an in-person return with the winter play! Directed by Mr. Gardiner, BUA’s winter play, William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, was performed in the Black Box Theater from January 21 to January 23, 2022. How was this in-person experience for our BUA cast and crew? The following are interviews with members of the BUA cast and crew of As You Like It.

What has it been like to return to doing drama in person? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

It’s been exciting, scary and a relief. I was trained in theater and for me that’s in-person interaction with an audience. We did some performances on Zoom in the past two years, and I was very proud of them, but it’s really a different medium than live theater. It is great to finally be in the same space with my actors and students and return to a way of working that feels more comfortable for me. On the other hand, it’s a struggle to try to rebuild a program after such disruption Covid brought. At the same time, I learned from the ways I had to adapt the program for online or hybrid learning.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

I’m so glad we got to do it in person! Personally, I love the rush and excitement of the constantly moving parts—the quick changes, props, actor cues, etc. It was also great to see people able to perform in front of an audience and make use of the Black Box space.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

I participated in the winter play in my freshman year, and it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had doing drama ever. I found a community of people who were as passionate as me, and it was a new experience that I somehow lacked without knowing [it]. Then, after Covid began and my sophomore year started, I found myself less passionate about the drama exercises we did in class, and learning the winter play was going to be fully online, I [developed] this aversion entirely. I wanted to move my body to words and feel the material in a more sincere way. This year was incredible because I was able to truly explore my role in the winter play, and the emotions I felt at the center of a stage are unmatched.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

A return to drama in person was awesome! I think that audience participation is truly what makes theater a great work of art. From the point of view of an actor, we need the audience to give us feedback. I really enjoyed being able to have the freedom of acting on a stage again and interacting with the rest of the cast and audience!

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

It was wonderful. It felt good to feel the BUA sense of community return and even through all of the uncertainty with the Omicron spike, it still felt good to put on a show.

How have coronavirus protocols affected drama? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

Covid has affected drama in so many ways! Though I believe an actor needs to use the WHOLE body, it’s an adjustment to overcome how much we rely on facial cues, not only in acting but even in our day-to-day interactions with other people. On stage, we can’t see the actor’s face [when they’re masked], and neither can an actor see their partner and react appropriately to what is being given to them. I have confidence that my actors can rise to the occasion.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

Masks for the actors was definitely an ongoing question of “How will we make this work?” Basically what we did is use black and white masks to signify the family or “type” of person the actor was portraying. Honestly, for the actors who played multiple characters, and for the two who had characters pretend to be other people, I think the masks might have actually helped. It made it more obvious to the audience that there was a distinction between people. The other thing was the constant worry of having a cast member get Covid right before or during show week. I decided to make everyone get tested everyday for that week and a half, so that we could stay on top of things, had there been any cases. Luckily, there weren’t any during Tech Week or the show!

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

Wearing masks while acting was an experience that was manageable, but it changed the experience entirely. I couldn’t explore every aspect of my role as much as I wanted because of the fatigue I felt wearing a mask. I was sometimes overwhelmed with delivering lines, moving, and simply trying to breathe.

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

The Covid protocols that affected us most were the masking and the seating restriction. I know of many people who couldn’t attend the show because the time that worked for them was fully booked, which made me upset, but it was also understandable why they imposed this rule. The masking also affected us, as the show we were doing was Shakespeare, which is hard to understand even when the audience can see and hear the cast fully. This just imposed a small challenge to us, as actors, to make sure that everyone heard us and understood everything we said.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

Obviously being masked was annoying, but other than that not much changed. However, this definitely wouldn’t have been possible with last year’s distancing guidelines.

What was your favorite part of the winter play?

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager:

My favorite part of the play was the quick changes and the very organized chaos of everything—that’s why I love being stage manager. I also enjoyed greeting the actors once they came off stage and hyping them up in between scenes.

Condredge Currie ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part of the winter play would have to be the cast. We formed a strong bond, and it strengthened our experience overall. Being together and creating those memories and producing a work of art is a unique experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

Michael Bolgov ‘23, Actor:

My favorite part was the community we created in our cast. We all became really close friends throughout this show.

Theo Chitkushev ‘24, Actor:

I really liked seeing the BUA community come together and laugh in the audience, especially during the Friday show!

What are your plans for the spring musical? 

Mr. Gardiner, Director:

We are doing a new musical called ALiEN8. It was written by a group called Ignition Arts, based on interviews with teenagers about issues that resonate with them. It premiered at Drexel University in 2019 and hasn’t been performed since then. We’ll be the first group of high schoolers to present the piece. The action of the play takes place in a small town in the Midwest that has just recovered from a tornado. Out of the storm a mysterious stranger, named 8, appears. People aren’t sure about 8’s gender, backstory, or anything really except that 8 seems to be of high-school age. 8 teaches the students its language, which is based on movement or gesture. Learning the language opens up students and eventually the town to confronting how they dealt with a traumatic incident in the town’s recent history.

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