Groton Theater during Covid-19 – “The Wolves” 

An exciting kick-off to the winter term, the fall term theater team recently released their first and second episodes of “The Wolves,” an award-winning play written by Sarah DeLappe,, available for viewing via a YouTube link. The production is an accumulation of their efforts during a turbulent term. This is only the beginning for many students; the winter term is a time when students will have a chance to perform both inside and outside classrooms, and this year is no exception. As Ms. Sales and her team release the second episode, English teachers prepare for sonnet recitals and student-led plays within an academic setting.


The path to “The Wolves” was neither easy nor conventional. It was filled with challenges that tested the versatility of everyone involved. According to theater prefect Claire Holding ’21, the subtle nature of physical character interaction and facial expressions key to acting were hard to incorporate with masks concealing each performer’s face. During rehearsals and recordings, performers had to read lines socially distant to each other, greatly limiting the scope of their interactions. This impediment also compromised the forming of connections between actors. In theater rehearsals, warm-ups and team-building exercises were crucial for actors to understand one another and to help coordination, which could not be held this year due to social distancing rules.


For the final recording of “The Wolves,” Ms. Sales and her theater tech team arranged microphones inside the Pratt Rink for performers to record their lines on location. What we see today in the final format of the play is the result of weeks of hard work and numerous trials and errors. Finding a way to movingly portray a scene to an audience is quite a feat itself, let alone in a restricted format that is unexplored. For Ms. Sales, creating a pre-recorded play was an entirely new process, one very different to what she was accustomed to inside the CPAC. There is an element to in-person theater “that is theatricality, or the sense that when you sit in a room to watch a play, you know you’re not really in a classroom,” Ms. Sales commented. “Your job as an audience is to suspend your disbelief.” When showcasing a pre-recorded play, the audience is used to taking in what they see on the screen as reality, without having to “suspend their disbelief,” or imagine the scenery the actors try to simulate. Without the time or resources to craft accurate sets and locations, Ms. Sales decided that an audio-only recording of the actors was the best option. Videos were then added to on-site recordings of the actors to prompt audience members to imagine the scene occurring, helping to patch in the visceral imagery that was missing from the production.


Despite all the hardships, performers have returned from the experience with a brand-new scope on acting, and Ms. Sales is ready for another term of theater during quarantine. New Groton theater performer, Afrika Gaye ’24 says that “The Wolves” has taught her the importance of vocal techniques, and how taking the time to refine the voice of a character can show who they are without facial expressions. Her takeaways of delving deeper than usual into a character’s every behavior are shared with other members of the cast; Alex Kirchner ’22 says that acting in a new media format forced her into thinking more about how her character would act at home in a casual setting, rather than just within the moment captured in a scene. In the first few minutes of the play, the audience is shown videos of the characters getting ready in their bathrooms, a carefully selected moment where the performers could comfortably show their faces, in a rare glimpse behind the masks.


In various forms, Covid-19 has made a considerable impact on students and teachers alike. Although it has impeded the Groton theater community greatly, the cast and crew of the “The Wolves” have demonstrated just what it means to persevere through hard times. You can watch the latest episodes of the wolves here: