Plays During Covid

Kevin Travers

Despite the pandemic shutting down most of the school run programs, seniors Ella Hardie and Ruby Cumming have written their own play,“Homecoming,” a story about high school friends who meet up after college, but soon realize things are much different than they had planned. 


I had the opportunity of interviewing both playwrights to learn more about the play, its storyline, the overall process of writing the play, and their  vision of how they are going to make the play viewable to the public..


When talking to them about how they came up with the story idea, they spoke about how In this time of transition when seniors are thinking alot about their life that served as a springboard for the play that they wrote. 

“We were interested in how friend group dynamics would shift after college and the idea that some people are only meant to be in your life for a specific period of time.” said Hardie. “But that doesn’t make them any less significant!”  


Cummings went into more depth about the story.

 “We decided we wanted it to be set in a car, for no particular reason we just liked the idea! So we brainstormed ways to have it set in a car and decided on a road trip!” said Cummings. “We wanted to have a climax/fight of some kind to build tension in the car, and we came up with some old friends visiting each other after their first year of college and a LOT has changed.”


I wanted to get an idea of the overall experience that the viewer is going to have while watching this play and possibly even something that they can learn or take away from it. 

“We’re hoping people will get kind of a cathartic experience from this production,” said Hardie.  


“It isn’t super plot-driven but we hope it’ll make people feel something! It’s fun doing a new play because the whole cast will get the originate their roles, which is unique from the shows we me how her friends had a chance to read through the actual script, she said “We recently did a read through of the script with some friends to hear how it flows and make sure everything sounded good,” said Cummings. “Our friends said it left them feeling a lot of emotions, especially melancholy. That’s exactly what we were going for with the show. It ends in a bit of a bittersweet way which leaves you thinking. It will probably hit close to home for a lot of people and we think there’s a character that everyone can relate to in some way which makes the show very impactful.”


The writing process for a play can be very difficult, scripts are long and it’s easy to lose motivation while running into the imaginary writing block.

“The writing process was challenging at times because the plot is extremely simple and there’s a LOT of dialogue. Finding the voices of the characters and making them sound like actual people instead of stereotypical teenagers was pretty hard to do because the story relies so heavily on the characters,” said Hardie. 

“In playwriting, there’s a lot of ‘show, not tell’ so we had to find a way not to be too on the nose about the character’s backstories and emotions. We wanted the dialogue to be compelling and engaging so people wouldn’t get bored listening to people talk for an hour, which I think we managed to pull off!” said Hardie. 


Cummings added on to this saying,”We found ourselves getting writer’s block quite a lot throughout the process but found a lot of inspiration through different things. Whenever we were stuck we’d go out to try and get inspiration, and we even set up some zoom calls with alumni to get their perspectives and stories to help us out! It was a super hard process but so much fun.”


 The play is an original, although you can see hints of inspiration from a coming-of-age film it is interesting to watch an unfamiliar storyline. Hardie, when talking about inspiration for the story, said, “We didn’t really take inspiration from other plays, but I thought a lot about coming-of-age films throughout the writing process and we actively tried to subvert some of the stereotypes found in a lot of films in that genre.” said Hardie. “For inspiration, we interviewed several Lakeridge alumni about their lives after high school and their relationships with people from high school. Those were definitely beneficial to us writing an authentic story.” 


Cummings echoed Hardie by saying, “I haven’t really heard of any play similar to ours which makes me super excited to see it come together! however we did take some inspiration from your typical coming of age films as well as our own experiences and some friends of ours who are around the same age as our characters!”


Chemistry between directors is crucial for writing a great script, Cummings and Hardie have been friends for a while and have done similar work to this in the past which makes them a great duo. 


When asked about what it was like working with each other, Hardie said, “I LOVED working with Ruby! She’s one of my best friends and we both had similar visions of what we wanted this show to be so that made it super easy! We’ve written a couple short films together and we were in the middle of directing one before COVID hit, so we’ve worked together for a while! Ruby’s a super creative, funny, open-minded person and she has a ton of experience in theatre, so working with her was a hoot!” 


When asking Cummings about her experience working with Hardie, she talked about past work they have done,“This actually wasn’t Ella and I’s first time working on a project like this together, we started making a short film last spring that unfortunately was cut short due to the pandemic, but during that we learned that we work super well together. We have similar visions of what we want and together we figure out the best ways to execute them. this past weekend we went on a little writing retreat to finish up some final touches and come up with our plan of action for starting rehearsals and it was such a blast! Ella is one of my absolute favorite people and I look forward to continuing to work with her as a partner as well!”


Due to the pandemic it is hard for plays and other big productions to get out to the community as well as the audition process. I asked how the audition process was going and how they planned to get the production out to the community, Ella said, “The audition process is definitely a little weird this year, but after Senior One-Acts this winter we’ve found that having people self-tape monologues and sending them through Google Classroom is easy and flexible! We’re hoping to wait until the Spring to see how covid is looking, but having a live audience isn’t looking likely, which is very sad!!” said Hardie. “We’re either going to have people self-tape their lines and edit it more like a film or hopefully be able to safely film in person! Regardless, there will be a recorded version of the show! We did an ‘Opening Night’ event over Zoom for Senior One-Acts that was super fun and successful, so we’ll probably do another one of those just so people can all watch the show together.” 


“I mean typically we’d be in the black box with a line outside the door and a clipboard taking notes so it’s a little different now, as people are sending in videos of themselves performing monologues,” said Cummings. “The hardest part about the audition process being at home is simply just getting people to find the motivation to audition in the first place, we understand that since things are a little different now it’s harder for them to want to participate in a production like this, but we have reassured them that just because the future is unknown doesn’t mean the show will be any less fun or successful! As of right now the auditions are rolling in a lot more and we’re excited for the casting process!


Senior Cory Brown auditioned for “Homecoming” and shared some of his thoughts on how covid has affected the overall auditioning process as well as performances. 

“Covid affects the fact that we can’t have shows in person, so auditioning is also affected by the fact we can’t do it in person,” said Brown. “We don’t have the opportunity to truly perform live theater nor truly perform a live audition.”


The process of auditioning online is drastically different from in person simply because of the lack of adrenaline rush the performers get. 

“The hardest part about auditioning online is getting the enthusiasm built up to do so,” said Brown. “The main focus about performing is doing it in person, the thrill and rush of a live show. The same goes for auditioning, the adrenaline kicks in when the audition occurs, online it’s just hard to get the same feeling.” 

Many performers feel that the pressure and overall atmosphere of the audition is what causes a feeling of hype and excitement, but in many ways online auditions can be easier.

“I would say from a practicality standpoint it’s easier online,” said Brown. “There’s not as much to worry about and you can choose your best audition. Not to mention that you can record your audition as many times as you want until you find just what’s right for you.”


Although there isn’t a set date for when this play will be accessible to the public, when this play does come out it will for sure be a must see.