It almost feels cliche to say it, but this year’s fall play at Summit High School had to be put on a little differently amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The production of “One Stoplight Town” does not feature a live stage performance in front of an audience. Instead, it was recorded by some of the school’s video production students and debuted on the high school’s website at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18.
Caroline Hesford, the play’s producer and a music and drama teacher at Summit High School, is used to working around the challenges associated with putting on a play, but the pandemic added additional layers to the endeavor.
“It’s been quite the challenge,” she said. “But it’s done, and I’m proud of it.”
Hesford had secured the rights to the play over the summer. She connected with the play’s author, Tracy Wells, through a group on Facebook when the author offered to release the play to teachers before it went to a publishing company.
By buying the rights directly from the author, Hesford was able to secure permission to make some changes to the play, such as adjusting scenes and casting requirements. It also allowed them to distribute the play online, something that is often expensive to do when purchasing the rights from a conventional publishing company.
The production got underway in late September, and the play’s 10 scenes were filmed over the course of six weeks.
Filming was occasionally complicated by different cast members going into quarantine along with the health rules that were put in place to allow the cast to film scenes without masks. The actors were allowed to go mask-free for no more than 15 minutes before they had to stop, open the doors and run the ventilation system for 30 minutes before they resumed filming.
In addition to the difficulties associated with putting on a production during a pandemic, there also was an additional challenge of filming a play, which had not been done before at the high school. Stage lighting is very different from video lighting, and oftentimes the film and stage crews “had to adjust extemporaneously” said Paul Koslovsky, who teaches English and video production as a part of the school’s Career and Technical Education program.
Ultimately, Koslovsky said he’s very happy with the work his video crew did, which included filming the same scene consecutively from different positions on the stage and splicing different angles together — similar to the 2020 filmed release of the Tony Award-winning Broadway play “Hamilton.”
“We had ’Hamilton’ on our minds. And it’s not ’Hamilton,’ but we tried,” said Koslovsky, who emphasized how proud he was about the dedication of his film crew.
“One Stoplight Town” is a play set in a small town “somewhere in America” and begins on the day the town’s first stoplight is installed. The play reflects on how this change affects the lives of the residents who, according to the play’s news release, “may seek the simple life, but whose lives are anything but simple.”
The play was directed by junior Mikaela Clark, assistant directed by junior Victoria Uglyar, with script supervision and editing by senior Ellyn Lew. It is available to watch on the school’s website at SHS.SummitK12.org and on YouTube at YouTu.be/ATh3y257ttA. There are no paid tickets for the play, but donations can be mailed to Summit High School, with “Performing Arts Dept.” in the memo, at P.O. Box 7, Frisco, CO 80443.