Play preview: “The Twilight Zone”

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Laurel Seidensticker

When asked what words they would use to describe “The Twilight Zone”, these are some that the castmates used.

A 6-year-old child with godlike mental powers threatens a township and has everybody under his rule. A hydrogen bomb demolishes an entire city, killing everyone except a man that had locked himself inside a bank vault to read his book. A gremlin tampers with an aircraft’s wiring and makes one of the passengers question her sanity. This is The Twilight Zone, a television series that aired from 1959-1964. But now, it will be a radio show performed by the KH Players’ freshmen and sophomores.

Three episodes of the original series, “It’s a Good Life,” “Time Enough At Last” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” featuring only freshmen and sophomores, will be streamable online from Mar. 12-26. Audiences can either listen to the show as if it were a traditional radio show, hearing just the voices of the actors, or view a recorded version of the show, filmed in black-and-white as if the performers were voice actors in a mid-twentieth century recording studio. In both cases, during filming, the performers remained primarily stationary and practiced social distancing. Due to this, they had to rely heavily on their voices and facial expressions to act, which many of the cast members said was completely new to them.

“This was my first time [doing a radio show],” Clare Schulte, sophomore, said. “I usually use a lot of body language [when I’m acting], so the first time we went through [the show] I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to just stand here?’ It was just really awkward.”

The first time we went through [the show] I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to just stand here?’”

— Clare Schulte

Gray Campbell, freshman, said they were really interested in the radio show concept. They said it was nothing like anything they’ve ever done before. 

“[The radio show] was an interesting experience,” Campbell said. “It made me feel like I was a TV or movie star instead of a theatre person. I had cameras up close in my face and they were like, ‘Let’s do your close up now’ and I was like, ‘Close up? Woah, that’s so cool.’”

On top of social distancing precautions, everybody involved in the production was required to wear a mask; the actors wore transparent masks that showcased their facial expressions. Only half of the rehearsals were in-person, while the other half were held on Zoom. Due to these precautions, Schulte said it was difficult to get to know her castmates during the process.

“[My castmates and I] didn’t really talk much because of the masks and [the Zoom rehearsals],” Schulte said. “It was definitely awkward at first… we didn’t really know each other. [There was] a lot of awkward silence when we weren’t rehearsing.”

It made me feel like I was a TV or movie star instead of a theatre person.”

— Gray Campbell

Despite the initial awkwardness, Schulte said she was happy to have something to do during the pandemic. Gracie McCoy, freshman cast member, said having something to do was especially important for the freshmen in the show, since they haven’t been given many opportunities to get involved at school.

“It’s been pretty hard [to get involved at school],” McCoy said. “I wouldn’t have even known about this show if my sophomore friend hadn’t told me about it, [and] this show has been the first [opportunity] for theatre I’ve seen [in the community].”

For some other cast members, COVID-19 has opened up their schedules, giving them enough time to participate in theatre when they may have been otherwise too busy. Lily Deck, sophomore, said she was excited to be able to enjoy theatre this year, since she has nothing else going on.

This year, since everything else is [canceled], I had the opportunity to enjoy theatre at KHS… It was just fun to have something to look forward to.

— Lily Deck

“I am a competitive dancer, so last year when COVID-19 wasn’t here, I had a bunch of competitions and shows,” Deck said. “This year, since everything else is [canceled], I had the opportunity to enjoy theatre at KHS… It was just fun to have something to look forward to.”

Even before the pandemic struck, the freshman/sophomore play had been  part of the KH Players’ season every year. McCoy said she enjoyed having this opportunity to only work with people her age.

“Usually when I do theatre, it’s with 6 to 18-year-olds, so [doing a show] with just people my age was really weird,” McCoy said. “But it was also really nice not having all the older kids, because they always get the main roles.”

Despite all of the abnormalities and setbacks in the production of the show, those involved said they were really excited for audiences to see the production. Campbell specifically said they were excited for a real audience to see the show, since the show has, as of now, only been performed for the production’s crew when it was recorded.

“A really big bonus of live theatre is having that audience to laugh at the jokes and feel the emotion with you, so it was kind of odd [recording] without them,” Campbell said. “I’m just really excited for [the audience] to see theatre in general, because people haven’t been able to see it in a while… I loved it a lot, and I think it’s going to be really nice for the audience to see.”

More information about the production, including ticket information, can be found here.