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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The 2023 fall play adopts unconventional staging

Actors perform in the house during dress rehearsal. The actors stand in the center aisle, preparing to fight. The performing area is decorated with small set pieces and scarves hung on the feature walls. “For the show that we’re doing, it really does suit the plot and the characters. It really works with the show, and I’m excited to see how audiences react to it,” said Sydney Becker (‘24), an actor in the fall play.

Webb’s theatre department is the epitome of unbounded; it repeatedly pushes the boundaries of putting on a production. From the lively audience participation in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to blood spurting all over the stage in Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, you might think that you have seen all there is to offer.  

Allow me to prove you wrong. In this year’s fall play, The Suppliant Women, the performers do not even go on stage.  

The fall play adopts a “theater in the round” structure, where the performance takes place in the middle of the house (regular audience area) and the audience sits on both the stage and in the upper part of the house.  

“[This staging] forces our audience to a shift perspective, but it also mimics an ancient Greek amphitheater in which the audience sits around the performers and looks down upon them. It also emphasizes the trapped nature of the suppliant women,” said Stefanie Plumley, Director and Fine Arts Department Chair.  

Such staging allowed the production to bring a modern and creative twist to Webb as well as stay true to its form by mirroring the Greek amphitheater. Given that this is the first time Webb has ever experimented with staging, it also brought complexities and challenges to both performance and tech of the production.   

In a traditional production, theatre technicians hang lights from catwalks that are pointed to the stage, suspend hanging microphones above the stage, and create big set pieces that act as the backdrops actors can interact with. However, with the performance being in the house, many elements were altered to fit the performance.  

Hanging microphones are now in the house, and set pieces include a myriad of boxes and staircases to create levels in the performance area. As a member of the lights crew, I had to redirect and reorganize most of the lights in the catwalks to create space to hang lights for the opposite direction. 

“The most difficult part was lighting because none of our theatrical lighting is designed to light up the audience area where our performers are going to be, so we had to get creative with light positions and put lights in spots that we’ve never done before,.” said Chad Smith, Technical Director.  

From the actors’ perspectives, there were also major changes and considerations that impacted the way they performed and presented to the audience. Now, not only is there an audience looking from both sides, but the actors are also in very close proximity to the audience.  

“We constantly need to be aware of spacing and who’s where,” Sydney Becker (‘24) said. “We also need to consider what sightlines are so that people can actually see us and not all of us have our backs facing one audience.” 

In addition to all these aspects that members of the cast and crew already need to consider, the center of the house area is also slanted with many seats filling space, complicating the use of levels in the theatre.  

“For example, in the opening scene where the women all the come in, we have some women sitting down in the chairs,” said Olivia Silva, Assistant Director and Humanities department faculty, “Danielle, for example, falls asleep in one of the chairs. We’re also able to hide behind the aisles. During the dance, the women go, they go down, and then they pop back up.” 

With the fresh twist that this staging gives the production, it is no doubt that Webbies should look forward to this performance. The fall play will take place in Liu Cheung Theater from November 2nd to 4th at 7pm.  

“It is one of the oldest plays ever written, yet it is incredibly relevant to what is going on in the world today,” said Ms. Plumley, “I would invite the audience to really embrace what the staging is trying to do. It’s not normal, but it is exciting – so get really involved in the action of the play!” 

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Stephanie Ma
Stephanie Ma, Co-Editor of Opinion
Meet Stephanie “Steph” Ma ('25), a harmonious force within the Webb Canyon Chronicle and Webb Community. This past summer Steph leisurely sojourned in Korea, where she indulged in delicious street foods such as fish cakes and tteokbokki. She continued her summer melodiously with visits to Boston College and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, where she immersed herself in the world of music, recorded her own songs, and had her soul serenaded by Masie Peters while visiting her brother in Canada. Looking through her Spotify, you are sure to find the ballads of Taylor Swift and Joshua Bassett. A talented instrumentalist, she plays a multitude of instruments such as the violin, guitar, and ukulele, yet her compositions extend beyond melodies. At Webb, the humanities strike a chord in her heart, especially classes conducted by Ms. MacPhee. As a maestro of leadership, Steph serves on the VWS Honor Cabinet When writing for the WCC Steph meticulously pieces together articles, most notably her compelling piece on the UC strikes. Finishing with a crescendo we can all look forward to seeing Steph thrive during her third year at Webb, while we take delight in her enlightened and empathetic articles during her second year at the Chronicle.  Favorite Song: "Cool About It" by Boygenius

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