Sean Pergola, Contributing Photographer
This spring, the Yale Dramatic Association — also known as the Dramat — presented four plays that were staffed, crewed and starred by first year students.
Every year, the Dramat hosts the FroShowCase, a theatre tradition specific to Yale for first year students. It is typically a large-scale production produced, directed and performed all by first years in a theatre on campus. In year’s past the FroShow has presented plays such as “Lost Girl” — a modern take on Peter Pan — and “Radium Girls,” a historical science piece. Due to social distancing requirements, this year’s format was altered to consist of four smaller-scale, remote pieces — “Love and Information,” “St. Valentine’s Home for the Forgetful,” “Among the Roses” and “Desire Above All Else.” All of the plays were staged on Zoom and ranged from comedy and murder mystery to historical love stories.
“There is so much to be gained in Zoom theater,” Lauren Marut ’25, director of “Love and Information,” told the News. “One huge advantage is a forced perspective that gives freedom to precisely shape how the audience sees the performers and perceives the scene in general.”
The transition to a virtual format allowed producers to imagine new ways to present their stories. For example, “Love and Information” consisted of 57 short vignettes featuring over 100 characters played by a cast of eight actors. Each scene depicted a different moment in the current world of mass information.
This new format also allowed more student playwrights the opportunity to showcase their work.
Sebastian Duque ’24, who wrote “Among the Roses,” was inspired by stories he heard from his grandmother about the 1950s Colombian conflict known as La Violencia. He eventually applied to the FroShowCase as a playwright, where he was encouraged by the Dramat to write an original play.
“Over winter break, I went to go visit my grandma in Columbia and we spent a lot of time together, and she told me a lot of stories from her [youth] and they were just really interesting to me,” Duque said. “I started using my time to write some short stories about the things that she had told me, obviously with a new depth of drama to them.”
For many first-year students, the FroShowCase marks their theatre debut at Yale. Joseph Bennett ’24, the stage manager for “Among the Roses” said that the virtual format made it easier to “ease into” his role without excess pressure. Beza Tessema ’24, the show’s producer, agreed and said the play’s status as a “workshop piece” also relieved pressure and allowed them to dive into the production process.
Samantha Fisher ’24, playwright of “St. Valentine’s Home for the Forgetful and Lost,” told the News that she was “a little apprehensive” starting the production process due to the theatre’s history as a live art form. Despite this, the play’s crew focused on aspects of theatre independent of the stage, with Carter King ’24, the show’s costume designer, hand making some of the cast’s outfits.
David Foster ’24, who attended the virtual production of “Among the Roses,” described the theatre experience as “very powerful.”
“I think the fact that it is student written is really wonderful,” Foster told the News. “I think it’s particularly impressive that this was first-years … I really look forward to seeing more plays over the next [three] years with these actors and directors and writers.”
The Dramat was founded in 1900.