AUSTIN (KXAN) — The show must go on… –line.
It’s safe to say the students at Sycamore Springs Middle School forgot their worries and strife over not performing on stage and sought the bare necessities to carry on.
The Dripping Springs ISD school was set to perform “The Jungle Book” on their theater stage for Spring production, but then the COVID-19 outbreak happened and schools closed.
“We finished casting on Friday the 13th of March, which was the last day of classes,” theatre teacher Meg Steiner said. “We posted the cast list and then suddenly it was like the world just pivoted and everything was different.”
The district informed Steiner and the other theatre teachers, Taylor Rainbolt and Chris Young, along with the students they would not return to school after Spring Break.
That’s when Zoom entered stage right.
“We decided to use that platform because it was readily available to us through the district,” Rainbolt said. “Thankfully, they were able to get that out to all of the teachers and the students. We had that available for rehearsals. and for being able to communicate and see each other’s faces, and just being able to adapt it from a stage play to more of a film-style show.”
They stumbled initially.
“There were a lot of technical difficulties we encountered throughout the process. Sometimes your mic is not going to work with you that day, sometimes your internet connectivity isn’t working that great, so you’ll have people saying a line and it’ll come in delayed to the other person.”
It “was a struggle until the last moment” before showtime, Rainbolt said, but the teachers and students persevered.
“The spirit of theater is the show must go on,” Steiner said.
A few of the actors performed a section of the play for KXAN. You can view it below:
Some of students moving onto high school were happy to be able to still perform the show.
“When I found out we were doing it on Zoom I was pretty happy, cause I like, we still get to end the year right,” student Jones Willis, who played “Baloo,” said.
“I was kind of sad at first because I’m in eighth grade and this would’ve been my last show,” student Deacon Ivey, who played “Tabaqui” the Jackal, said.
A final show that gained more audiences members than expected.
“We had people streaming from all over the world,” Steiner said.
Including relatives of the actors, who might not have normally seen the play.
“People needed this to keep them sane,” Charli Squire, who played “Bagheera” the Panther, said. “A bunch of my family from across country were so excited because they’re older and can’t really travel, but they were able to see it and they loved it and were really excited that we took something so small and made it such a big thing.”
A production that touched their teachers.
I was so happy so much of the cast stuck with us even though we were doing all of these changes. They trusted us enough. It wasn’t easy for any of us. I think there were several times where we all thought this was just gonna bomb, and just be so weird and so technically messy, but I don’t know, I think when people come together and feel passionate and just work together to problem-solve, magic really happens. Theatre is magic, and it doesn’t really matter where your stage is or how you get there, but it happened, we got it, and the show went on.Steiner said.
But Steiner admits in the end she would love to return to a normal stage.
“This was fun, we laughed a lot, I feel like this was really great for us to connect here and go through the creative process. It worked. Do I want to do this forever? Absolutely not. I’m really hoping we can get back to school and see each other in person because theatre at its essence is an exchange of energy and collaboration and being on stage.”
Their production ran from May 7-9. If you didn’t get a chance to see one of their Zoom school plays live, you can find recorded performances on YouTube by searching “SSMS Live Stream.” Each is labeled by the day.