Screenshot from virtual rehearsal on YouTube | Stay-at-home directives have forced the creators of “Lear 1984” to collaborate remotely on producing the miniseries
By Nick Pecora ’21
Although there is no way for any members of the Brophy community to safely attend a play due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Brophy’s theater program will still be remotely performing “Lear 1984.”
Directed by Ms. Carolyn Wright, the production is set in 1980s-era Scottsdale and draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
Originally, the theater department had been planning to put on a “Shakespeare in the Park” performance on Brophy’s campus but changed their plans once it became evident that such a performance would not be possible.
Once in-person classes and activities at Brophy were canceled and “Shakespeare in the Park” was no longer a possibility, the team had to quickly shift gears to a different project that could be produced remotely.
Christopher Dorado ’20, a member of the “Lear 1984” cast, said that work immediately began on constructing a new project as soon as school was canceled. “I could tell that [Ms. Wright] started working pretty much right away,” Dorado said.
“Prior to teaching at Brophy, I had a career in theater and film in Los Angeles,” Ms. Wright said. “My experience in screenwriting and producing came in handy while I adjusted the ‘Lear 1984’ from stage to screen,” Ms. Wright said.
Spencer Blanchard ’20, who portrays the Earl of Kent in the production, said the team’s way of thinking remained constant through all the unexpected developments.
“The show will go on, however it has to,” Blanchard said.
The selection of “King Lear” as the play that would inspire Brophy’s production was especially fitting, as it was initially written by William Shakespeare while he was quarantined during a 17th-century outbreak of the black plague.
Though it may seem like this connection may have been a factor in the selection of “King Lear,” this parallel was unbeknownst to the production team when “King Lear” was chosen as the inspiration for the spring production.
“Totally coincidental,” said Blanchard. “It’s funny because in ‘Little Women,’ the Xavier performance that finished earlier [this year], they actually mentioned that Shakespeare wrote ‘King Lear’ in quarantine, and then quarantine happened.”
Since they have been unable to meet in person, the cast and crew have had to rehearse, film, and edit the play remotely, using video conferencing to communicate when necessary.
“It’s definitely an adjustment to not be with everyone and do warmups and stuff,” Dorado said of having to rehearse in a virtual space.
Much of the filming has been independent, with actors being assigned certain shots that they must get of themselves for the production.
The cast and crew have also been maintaining a production website, where they and director Ms. Wright provide short videos containing behind the scenes footage and updates on how far along the production is.
“Our seniors wanted to create a capstone experience to share the work somehow since they would miss an opportunity to do so in person,” Ms. Wright said of the decision to create the website.
Given the current circumstances, Ms. Wright hopes that the production will serve as more than just an entertaining series.
“I hope that a message of hope and an invitation to connect through this story reaches anybody who needs that reminder,” Ms. Wright said.
The project consists of five episodes, which will be released on a weekly basis on Youtube starting in June. At the time of this writing, principal photography for the series is underway.