After more than a year of performing over Zoom, Masque & Gown, Bowdoin’s student-run theater company, will hold in-person auditions for its fall production next week, while the Bowdoin Theater Department will continue its rehearsals for “The Wolves.”
Masque & Gown Board Member Sinclaire Ledahl ’23 is working with the group’s other board members to select a show for their fall production and to begin rehearsals in the coming weeks. Although Masque & Gown typically holds auditions earlier in the semester, Ledahl is confident that the group will be able to put on a main-stage production by mid-November.
“We’re talking to at least one potential director right now who’s putting together a proposal for us, but we’re hoping to be able to turn around on that pretty quickly,” Ledahl said. “Then [we will] be able to release what we’re planning to do for our major fall show by the middle of this week and have auditions this weekend.”
While Masque & Gown has not yet announced its fall show, the group is hoping to cast more actors than usual. Masque & Gown’s Technical Director Lorenzo Hess ’23 recalled that casts in previous years typically consisted of three to seven actors, but the group is hoping to make use of in-person rehearsals with a larger group.
“We’re looking for a comedy with about 10 people in the cast,” Hess said. “I think it’s on the larger side, [and] we want to involve more people just because there’s so many new [members].”
Although Masque & Gown will continue to hold three yearly performances—two main-stage productions with a festival of one-act plays in between—Ledahl predicts that the group will put on less intricate performances while pandemic restrictions remain.
“I think the highlight last year for me … was doing an in-person play reading in the spring, which was really low maintenance,” Ledahl said. “It was two days of rehearsals, and I think we are seeing that kind of thing as something we can do again … low commitment in-person projects.”
Fortunately for Hess and the group’s stage crew, the technical aspects of the show—including lighting, sound and set—do not necessitate as many safety precautions as the performance aspect. The show’s reduced set elements will further simplify Hess’s work.
“There’s nothing in building the set or lighting that requires people to stay super close together for long periods of time, so even if we’re supposed to be distancing, I think we’ll be able to get everything done,” Hess said. “Unless the restrictions actually give us less time to do things, I don’t think there will be much of an impact, unless we have to be outside or on Zoom in which case there will be much less to do.”
Following a surge in positive COVID-19 cases on campus, Ledahl has begun to prepare for the possibility of the pandemic affecting the work of Masque & Gown. With auditions approaching, the group is actively determining the safest way to conduct them.
“We’re hoping to hold auditions this weekend, and we’ll see what that can look like for us—it might be doing things outside, it might be meeting people inside with masks, it might unfortunately be over Zoom,” Ledahl said.
This kind of flexibility will likely be necessary throughout the semester as the rehearsal process gets underway.
“I can foresee a future where we do a show and someone in the cast tests positive or is a close contact and that we sort of have to rapidly change things and adapt to people’s situations changing,” Ledahl said.
While Masque & Gown hopes to hold its performances in Wish Theater or Pickard Theater, Ledahl believes that the group will have to be adaptable to meet changes in safety protocol.
“The worst case scenario for us is that we’d have to go back on Zoom because we’ve been on Zoom for a long time, and we’re really hoping to be able to do theater in person,” Ledahl said. “We’re trying to stay as adaptable as possible as we plan for the worst, but [we] are hopeful.”
Aside from Masque & Gown, the Bowdoin Theater Department will also be holding a production of Sarah Delappe’s “The Wolves,” a show about teenage soccer players. Performances of the show will take place over Bowdoin’s Family Weekend, October 22-25, in Wish Theater.
According to cast member Catherine Crouch ’23, rehearsals for “The Wolves” have been more fast-paced than past shows with Family Weekend quickly approaching. While she has had to learn blocking and memorization at a faster pace than usual, Crouch said that she has enjoyed being able to rehearse alongside other actors.
“We have indoor rehearsals that are masked, and it’s great to just be together indoors and get to rehearse in the same room,” Crouch said in an email to The Orient. “I was in a Masque & Gown one-act festival in the spring that was entirely virtual, so it is just great to all be together in person again.”