Students Shine in Take Care: An Innovative Production in the Age of COVID-19

Take Care is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before … it’s a new reality for Dwight and a new reality for theater everywhere,” says cast member Gui Sequeira ’24 about this year’s Mainstage Theater production, which is also a film. His description couldn’t be more apt. 

Alumna and Teacher on the Same Playing Field
As our students were unable to rehearse and perform a play in person due to the pandemic, Terry Christgau, Head of Upper School Theater Productions and the Master Theater Program, turned to former student — and now creative collaborator — Sophia Conger ’14 to help devise an alternative. 

The two had recently worked together on a TV pilot that Sophia wrote, directed, and produced; she cast Mr. C (as his theater students call him) in an acting role, turning the tables! Sophia, who had shared her talents as an actress and singer in numerous performances at Dwight under Mr. Christgau’s direction, first caught the movie bug when Dwight launched an IB Film course in 2012. Mid-way through her high school career, Sophia switched from studying theater to film because she thought she was better suited to being behind the camera, and went on to major in film at Ithaca College.
 
A New Play within a Movie

The creative COVID-19 work-around turned out to be a film of students’ performances, which posed unique challenges: every actor, once they had prepared mostly virtually, had to film themselves at home. To ensure continuity, each received a black background to shoot against and guidance from Sophia about where to position the camera and how to light their scenes to make it look as though students were in the same space before she edited them together.

Students also had a significant additional challenge of not being able to be present with fellow actors and feed off of one another in scenes they share, nor were they able to feel the energy that comes from performing in front of a live audience. With numerous limitations, the demands for ingenuity were great. Yet our student-actors faced these challenges with Lion-sized grit and talent — and the result says Ava Goldfarb ’21, “is a testament to how durable and creative our Theater Department is and how flexible students are.” We couldn’t agree more!

An Idea Takes Shape  

Take Care itself as a concept is also unique; it’s a tapestry of scenes from different plays, which Mr. Christgau selected to weave together around the theme that “we are all responsible for the well-being of one another, which is more important now during COVID-19 than ever before in my lifetime,” he asserts. The scenes embody this theme with positive, powerful, and endearing messages. In some, we see what happens when people take care of each other; in others, we see what happens when they don’t. 

The scenes were excerpted from: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and Happy Journey to Camden and Trenton by Thornton Wilder; The Time of Your Life, Beautiful People, and The Human Comedy by William Saroyan; Painted Rain by Janet Malia Allard; Execution of Justice by Emily Mann; All My Sons by Arthur Miller; and The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertholt Brecht.

Prior to the premiere of Take Care, Mr. Christgau explained: “We intercut their scenes, one into another, rather than laying them out in a linear fashion. Also with a selection of scenes, the audience will not see these plays in full, but hopefully, if we do our job well, we will end up with an interconnected piece of fabric or something akin to a jazz piece.” Indeed they did and it was wonderful! For more behind-the-scenes insights, click here.

Bravo to the cast, who enjoyed being on the “red carpet” for a socially distanced cast viewing in the Quad the night before the premiere:  

Ava Goldfarb ’21
Carol Arap ’22
Jane Barbero ’22
Isis Boelens ’22
Laureline Costa ’22
Leia Immanuel ’22
Faatima Khan ’22
Rory Paltridge ’22
Elexis Perls ’22
Bernardo Sequeira ’22
Rebecca Woldenberg ’22
Emma Brandon ’23

Adam Kaplan ’23
Ava Kimmel ’23
Natalie Martell ’23
Avery Meer ’23
Lily Ventura ’23
Erick Hernandez Lopez ’24
Hayden Lucas ’24
Olivia Mitchell-Burrell ’24
Brooke Radosevich ’24
Guilherme Sequeira ’24
Maysa Souri ’24

We want to send a special shout-out to Lily, Erick, Olivia, and Maysa, who are all new to Dwight this year and for whom Take Care was their introduction to our Mainstage Theater program!

To watch Take Care, click here — and grab some popcorn before you do! 

Everyone will have a favorite scene … when you decide which one is yours, let the actors know with an email or high-five in class!

  • COVID-19
  • Theater