AHS Theater

Alya Elhassan (on-screen) was the narrator for the spring production. Below, Mary McManus (left) played the Sun and Avery Durbin (right) played the moon.

After months of planning, staging, producing and pivoting to a virtual platform, the Arcadia High theater program took to the stage with both virtual and in-person performances of their spring production, “And We Will Share the Sky.”

“Scottsdale Unified School District allowed us a small live audience carefully spaced out, so we had a mix of live and virtual,” Richard Fairchild, the head of Arcadia’s theater department, said. “While we’ve missed live audiences all year, it’s been a good challenge exploring new acting techniques.”

The play explores the myths about the relationship between the moon and the sun. Fairchild chose the play because he wanted something his students could modify to a live-streaming performance. The play’s publisher was able to change the license to make it easier for schools to stream their shows. 

Although the virtual performances helped increase the student’s adaptability, the move wasn’t easy. 

The performances have been a blend of live and virtual all year, so in-person students had the challenge of rehearsing lines and staging scenes with other students that were working from home and projected on a screen. 

Fairchild said, “It hasn’t been ideal, but it’s given them a unique challenge in theater and forced them to solve problems new to the performing world.”

The technical theater students also had to adjust to these changes. Some of the biggest challenges they faced were learning how to transition lighting, audio, set construction and the rest of the foundational elements of a live theater performance to a virtual one. 

While the theater students and Fairchild look forward to their performances returning to normal, their willingness to learn, experiment and adapt has its benefits.

“It’s been a challenge, but honestly, the students have shown a huge effort this year,” Fairchild said. “Some of my hardest working performers are joining via Zoom, and I’m working hard to keep our theater family together. We have had a few students drop because they weren’t interested in the virtual format, but also plenty of new and enthusiastic members.”

Arcadia High has a long tradition of theatrical performances that keeps the department thriving through even through the worst of times. 

“I’ve been here for 17 years, and we’ve done a variety of performances,” Fairchild said. “We’ve had a great history of experimentation, including several student-written musicals and participation in community events like the Rock n’ Roll Marathon.”

For the rest of the school year, the department will focus on student-written short plays, streamed virtually and available to a limited in-person audience.