By Isabel Sinnott
The Hammond Dramastics group had its most recent performance two weeks ago on March 17. They performed on Zoom; the new virtual format providing new difficulties and challenges from how it used to be performed in person.
Dramastics is an improv group that any student at Hammond can audition for where a group of students plays fun improv games for the audience. There are a variety of games that they play, from guessing games to versions of charades to games that require participation from the audience.
Switching from in person performances to virtual ones have greatly changed the way that the Dramastics performances have gone– Sydney Finger, a senior on the Dramastics team said that, “Being virtual has, from what I’ve noticed, made interactions between characters the focus of scenes. For most of the scenes there is less room to include movement due to the limited camera and physical interaction with other actors, not allowing scenes to be created with movement to different parts of the stage.”
Another difficulty with virtual performances is technical difficulties– Danielle Gilbert, the Captain of the Dramastics team said that, “It’s hard enough to act scenes out when you can’t physically interact with the other person, but it’s also hard when you can’t see or hear the audience’s reactions. Also, involving the audience is a key part of our shows, and it’s been difficult to find games that allow us to really connect with them.”
Sophomore Julie Steinberg added that, “A lot of our games and exercises have to change too because we can’t have too many people talking at once and it’s hard to do things together. We’re forced to be more creative.”
A variety of games are played during the performances, which are about an hour and a half long, including some that have been played in the past and some new ones designed for a virtual setting. Due to the limitations of the virtual format, the games have become largely dialogue focused instead of incorporating much movement; many rely on quick storytelling or pantomiming– acting something out using exaggerated gestures. One new game for Zoom is “Lines from the Chat”, where the performers use suggestions typed into the chat and include them as lines in the various scenes.
The Dramastics performances are extremely fun to watch– they are always engaging and the variety of styles of games with all the members of the group makes it always a fun show to watch. The fun that the members of the group have is definitely reflected in the performance; Sydney Finger stated that, “My favorite thing about being in Dramastics is the fun the group has together and how well we work together…It’s a place I can test out my creativity and theatre skills as well as having great fun with my friends,” and Julia Steinberg said pretty much the same thing, “We have such a fun time and everyone is so supportive and creative. We all encourage each other to grow both as performers and people.”
Danielle Gilbert summed up how the Dramastics team has come together to create these improv shows; “Despite these unusual circumstances, everyone has been really positive, engaged and open to trying new things. It’s been such a pleasure watching everyone have fun together, even if it’s just on a computer screen. I think I speak for all my teammates when I say that Dramastics has been a great support system for us throughout quarantine, and it’s important to stay connected and do something fun while we’re all stuck at home. I cannot express how grateful I am to have all of them in my life.”