Milton’s performing arts faculty and students found creative solutions to bridge distances and time zones to offer a full slate of performances this fall, including the plays Macbeth, The Illustrated Bradbury, and this weekend’s Class IV play, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Performing Arts Department faculty member Eleza Kort, who directed the Class IV play, said about one-third of the 15 cast members are international students, so meetings and rehearsals were scheduled to accommodate different time zones. Each student received a green screen and filmed themselves performing in front of it. Faculty member Shane Fuller edited the scenes together to look as if the actors were in the same place. The show opens Thursday, October 29. Details about accessing the performances are below.
“The students have been amazing, and I’m really proud of them. Performing remotely is challenging—this is the world we’re living in right now,” Kort said. “We really wanted this to be the best experience it could be for our incoming freshmen. They deserve that and we wanted them to feel special, and to meet each other. A lot of them were thankful for the shared experience.”
All the fall performances are recorded, instead of live. This approach, while a challenge to coordinate, provided many learning opportunities for faculty and students as they adapted to creating engaging shows during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Macbeth, director Peter Parisi and production manager Evan DelGaudio split Shakespeare’s tragedy into six separate episodes. Middle School music teacher Alan Rodi provided an original score. The first episode was posted to a Vimeo page last week and new episodes will be added weekly. On Friday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the play will end with a final, live online event.
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is a series of vignettes based on the bestselling book by Robert Fulghum. The show features funny and serious stories about the themes we learn as little kids.
“We learn these values in kindergarten like sharing, and being kind, and they kind of go by the wayside as we become adults,” Kort said. “There are stories about childhood and about older people, so it’s a whole range. It’s a really sweet play.”
People can watch All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten beginning Thursday, October 29 through Saturday, October 31. Links to each performance are available on the Performing Arts Department’s Eventbrite page. Once registered for an event, viewers will receive a link and a password to access their selected performance. Links are open on the day of production for 24 hours from 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. Eastern Time the following day. Additionally, students will have access to a live watch party through their CampusGroups accounts, which will be held on Friday, October 30 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. This is an opportunity for students to watch and support the performers together.
The Illustrated Bradbury, a series of 10 stories by the author Ray Bradbury, runs online from November 12 through November 14. The play is narrated by Bradbury’s famous character “The Illustrated Man” and features the author’s signature blend of fantasy and science fiction. Director Darlene Anastas went above and beyond to include student cast members from around the world, waking up at 4 a.m. to direct a student filming in Saudi Arabia as well as doing her own filming on campus, said Performing Arts Department Chair Kelli Edwards.
Fuller, as a theater designer and filmmaker, has been an invaluable resource to help translate theater productions to film, Edwards said.
“Our goal this year was to create a situation where anyone who wanted to participate could, no matter where they were, both in performing and in tech,” Edwards said. “It means that everything we’re doing, at least for the fall, is filmed. We’re using a lot of different platforms depending on what the shows need. It’s been really complicated, but we’re doing it.”
Tickets for The Illustrated Bradbury will be available on the Eventbrite page during its run from November 12 through November 14.
Milton athletes are working hard this fall season, practicing both remotely and on campus, despite the absence of regular team competition. As all fall teams began the season remotely, coaches had to think of creative ways to keep athletes moving and connected to each other.
Boys’ cross country coach Scott Bosworth said the team “approached this strange season with the same commitment and determination as in past seasons. We had active and engaging Zoom meetings where we talked about the challenges we face with the pandemic, motivational tools to get us through, and the need to stay together and be supportive of each other. We watched videos about Wilma Rudolph and Billy Mills, two athletes who overcame huge obstacles—physical, economic, racial, and substance abuse—to become Olympic gold medalists, and we had lively discussions afterward.”
“The soccer season has been great thus far in spite of the different forms it has been taking,” said Boys’ soccer coach Chris Kane. “We have a large and passionate group of soccer players and we used the remote learning period to build connections across students across the various levels of our program.”
When day students returned to campus in October, head football coach Kevin MacDonald said the players who were on campus focused on the “fundamentals of the game. We practice on the game field, but we are not running plays and not wearing equipment. And it’s gone great. Our philosophy is to make them better players.”
Britney Carr, assistant director of athletics and field hockey coach, said while it is a “challenging time for sports, we have been trying our best to make it fun.”
Kane said, “With the return of day students, we took on a hybrid model, which includes Zoom workouts and yoga sessions as well as in-person practices. We are thrilled to have this time to work together and the coaches have appreciated the awesome energy and enthusiasm that students have brought every day.”
Bosworth said, “Now that we are partially in-person, the team has experienced a bit of normalcy as we can train as we have in the past, albeit with masks. We have conducted two time trials so far and have two more planned. These are a good way to assess fitness, set goals, and create a bit of competitive energy. Our remote student athletes run by themselves on their own home route. As coach, I am very proud of the way the team has adapted to the situation and applaud their commitment, drive, and desire to be their best.”
Comfort food is having a moment and science faculty member Heather Zimmer is showing students how to make it at home on a weekly cooking show. It’s part of the new Opt-In Program, where faculty host casual and fun Zoom sessions such as trivia nights and current event discussions.
The Opt-In Program started earlier in the semester after a few faculty members and student head monitors Eliza Dunn ’21 and Garvin McLaughlin ’21 thought about ways to keep the strong sense of community at Milton while in a remote/hybrid environment.
Zimmer said she and her husband, the head chef at 2nd Street Café in Cambridge, loved cooking with students when they lived in Norris House and this is a fun way to replicate that experience. On their first episode, they taught students to make mac and cheese from scratch.
“First, we taught everyone to make a comfort-food-style cheddar and then helped students customize based on what they wanted to eat that night,” she said. “One particularly tempting version, made by Luke Witkowski ’24, had cheddar, bacon, and scallions!”
The Zimmers provide the recipe in advance so people can cook along with them if they wish. “We also welcome anyone who just wants to hang out and chat about their favorite foods while we cook,” said Zimmer.
Last week, a group made snickerdoodle cookies, and next week they plan to make a “hearty chili as well as a quick dish of Rice Krispies treats with candy to celebrate Halloween.”
“We are planning to continue through the semester if there is interest, with a few special sessions between Thanksgiving and Winter Break that will focus on making holiday candy and cookies from scratch,” she said “Anyone who has ideas on what we should cook just needs to reach out to me, and I will do my best to incorporate it into a future event!”