Usually, the annual senior theater production at Cambridge South Dorchester is a pretty upbeat affair. Students and their theatre teachers are quick to select musicals or comedies that match the general mood of soon-to-be high school graduates. But that was before COVID.
These days, everything has changed for both students and teachers. And while the Cambridge South Dorchester High senior show will indeed “go on,” its newly appointed theater instructor, Talley Wilford, had to program around the challenging requirement that his performers would need to wear masks the entire time.
For Wilford, who has created a significant reputation for himself on the Mid-Shore for directing musicals of all types for the last ten years, the mask requirement was a first for him. Not only was singing out of the question, which ruled out Broadway crowd-pleasers but even delivering and understanding regular dialogue would require an entirely new strategy for Talley and his student performers.
Wilford made two significant decisions to respond to these problematic restrictions. The first was to ask his students to perform 1984, the George Orwell classic, which seemed so relevant as young people start to comprehend the level of surveillance that co-exists with their social media accounts and the dangers of social conformity.
The other decision was to have his actors pre-record their lines rather than risk dialogue being muffled out by the required masks.
Both experiments will be tested next month when 1984 is performed in the high school’s auditorium, built to seat approximately 1,200 but will be limited to 250 theater-goers for this production.
In his Spy interview, Talley talks candidly about these remarkable circumstances and how his students have grown to appreciate Orwell’s important warning while also enjoying how cast members can use their masks to reinforce the author’s themes.
This video is approximately four minutes in length.
Cambridge South Dorchester High School Auditorium
April 29, 30, May 1 @ 7pm
May 2nd @ 3pm
All tix $10.00
Advance Tickets: 410.228.9224 ext 1707