By Caris Mann, ’22
After an unexpected year that provided many plot twists and turns, HHS Drama is ready to present its newest one-act play: 4 AM. The play by Jonathan Dorf is a “dramedy,” meaning that there are some dramatic and comedic moments throughout the piece with a varied cast of characters. There’s Frankie, the radio DJ, and Jane, the girl writing a letter to a knife company about why their product has failed her. There are two pairs of friends at sleepovers: Anne and Monica and Simon and Hale. The Monster Under the Bed runs into trouble with some Police Officers who storm a sleeping kid’s bedroom. The play also has a kid who witnesses a fire and a teen out for a morning jog. To top it all off, there’s Romeo and Juliet, two teenagers in love with each other but are afraid to make the wrong move. However, this odd group of characters all have one thing in common and that is the fact that they are all awake at the dreaded hour of 4 am. The play provides insight into how different people lead their lives during that last hour of darkness before sunrise and it does so with many comedic and heartfelt moments along the way.
The play will be entered in the annual Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Fest. This year, with COVID guidelines, the Drama Fest had to be conducted differently. The process began with Zoom auditions and callbacks in January. This was quite different from the in-person auditions of the past. Students had to select a scene or a monologue to read and perform it over Zoom. After the cast list was announced, rehearsals began the following week — once again on Zoom. For a month, rehearsals were conducted via Zoom as it was the safest way to practice. Then, in March, it was announced that rehearsals could be conducted in-person and in the auditorium. This was a huge step forward because now the actors could have a space to work in and be able to interact with each other. However, guidelines were still implemented with actors having to work within their own set boxes on the stage and remain six feet apart. Google forms were also filled out for contact tracing before every rehearsal. In addition, the entire cast was not able to be in the theater together so different groups of actors were brought in at different rehearsals to work on specific scenes. For two months, rehearsals continued in person, with the cast unsure whether the final performance would be in-person or virtual. In the end, Drama Fest officials decided upon virtual performances, and cast members performed separate scenes that were filmed and then edited together. With the hard work of the cast, crew, and HHS Drama Teacher Mr. Fahey, recordings ended on May 12th with the video set to premiere next week.
By far, this has been the craziest year in HHS Drama. But even though this has been a long and unusual process, the end result is something to look forward to. This has been the first production in over a year, which is truly something to celebrate.
“At the beginning of the year, we were all missing the element of performing as a group,” said Stage Manager Maggie Godin, a senior. “Getting to come in every day and seeing people in the theater again, building sets after school, and rehearsing scenes together has been really great.”
Mr. Fahey shares the excitement, noting that many school drama programs were unable to perform at all this year. Pulling off 4 AM, though, took a huge commitment from everyone involved. While in typical years the Drama Fest one-act play comes together in about a month, this one took five months.
“We have spent this extra time creatively trying to figure out what to do and hitting roadblocks and trying to adjust,” he said. “We have also spent this time nitpicking every scene which is extremely important in theater. I am excited for the community to see it and I think that those who are involved are excited and believe 4 AM to have been a good experience.”
However, 4 AM is a bittersweet moment for some in the cast such as senior Elise Falvey because this is her last show. “I’m extremely grateful that we were able to at least put on one show this year, even though it’s being done in a more nontraditional or unconventional way than usual,” she said. “I’ve had so much fun rehearsing and I’m really happy to finish senior year out with such an incredible and touching show.”
Make sure you tune in to watch 4 AM when it streams on Youtube!