Venice High’s Theater Department is already kicking their productions into high gear for the 2019-2020 season. The department plans to launch an “immersive” theater experience, which Theater Director Traci Nichols-Thrasher describes as “an [experience] where the audience moves from room to room, following the action of the play, a lá Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. It’s where the audience gets to experience the show both in an improvisational way and in a way that’s scripted.”
Last year was chock-full of hits, including the “I’m Getting Murdered in the Morning” dinner theater and the dramatic production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” With both productions receiving glowing reviews from the Oarsman, it’s apparent that the department is on track to have a standout year, especially with the implementation of this new experience.
For the past few production seasons, the Venice High Theater Department has had to make some drastic adjustments to compensate for the closure of the auditorium, which was a result of deteriorating crown molding on the walls and ceiling and the implementation of new air conditioners that shook the already decaying interior wallpaper loose. From holding plays in the student cafeteria to borrowing Mark Twain Middle School’s auditorium, the department has had to get creative about its plays’ venues.
“It’s stressful having our auditorium out of commission,” says Ms. Nichols-Thrasher. “With this kind of experience, we have to figure out a place where too many people aren’t in one space, so where we’re holding [this fall’s play] isn’t set in stone yet.”
Non-Thespians are encouraged to get involved as well; auditions for this fall’s play are set to be announced in the coming weeks and anyone is encouraged to try out. Students can also get involved by volunteering to be part of the backstage crew, handling lighting and other mechanics.
Although this fall’s play is, in many ways, different from what’s been done before, the audition process will be the same as all other years. When asked about what she looks for in a potential actor, Ms. Nichols-Thrasher says, “It’s all about who’s able to fit into the role best. I don’t choose a person because they’re my student, I don’t choose a person because I know them. I choose a person because they fit [the role] better than anyone else that tried out.”
The inconvenience of having an auditorium that is out of use is impacting this fall’s production more so than it has in previous years — arguably in a way that is more innovative than ever before.