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Thespian Society President Allison Scorsone & Cast Member Fabian Hattem

“13 Ways To Screw Up Your College Interview” Pandemic Version

On October 25, 2021, Nutley High School Thespian Society president Allison Scorsone and cast member Fabian Hattem discussed the upcoming play “13 Ways To Screw Up Your College Interview.” They talked through dilemmas faced when dealing with putting on a production in a pandemic, and feelings on performing again. “It's a challenge, but a challenge we accept,” Scorsone and Hattem stated. 


Nutley High School is beginning their journey to start performing shows again. NHS had stopped their musicals, plays, and performances due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and ever since it has been a struggle to get back into the swing of things.


That was until this year. Allison Scorsone, president of The Thespian Society gathered her fellow colleagues and formed a plan to get a play into pursuit. Scorsone pondered a play idea that would be both comical and endearing. She then came across the play “13 Ways To Screw Up Your College Interview.”


A comedy centered around two college recruiters who are scrambling to fill a last spot, so they begin bringing in thirteen high school seniors for interviews but these interviews go south very quickly. When asked about the play details Scorsone states “These interviews go horribly wrong in as many ways as you can imagine.”


The play will take place sometime in early December and run 30 to 40 minutes long. In total there are 17 students in the cast as well as four students backstage, one director, and one assistant director. 


Another large factor in this is if the school could even have a play due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The school had to be aware of what the play entailed and give their synopsis if it could happen or not. When asked if it was difficult for the school to approve the play Scorsone stated, “It wasn't too difficult considering we were able to hold an in person musical this past spring. The only difficulty we faced was social distancing in the middle school choir room may be tough, not impossible though.” Scorsone has a positive outlook on the play and the precautions needed in order to perform.


Due to the virus' hard hitting effects the last show the high school was able to perform was Rock Of Ages, a musical in February of 2020.  NHS was able to perform one show during covid in April of 2021 called Edges: A Song Cycle. In Edges the cast and audience were required to wear face shields and or masks.


Every cast member had a two guest limit. To ensure everyone's safety the precautions being taken by the theatre department and NHS will be similar to the last show, all cast members and audience members must wear face shields or masks  at all times.


 “As of right now, everything is uncertain. There is still no telling how many people will be able to watch it in person. Each cast member will have a 2 guest limit. This would mean about 30-35 people,” Scorsone stated. Her hope is to have the play be indoors. “We are aiming to hold the show indoors inside of John H. Walker Middle School's choir room, like a black box theatre idea!” Scorsone states.


But, there are certain restrictions that were not permitted  for the cast “we can have people shaking hands.” Scorsone stated. She believes that this is another step in the right direction to getting everything back to normal.


This has been a challenge for Scorsone with certain precautions, and the hardships or running a play, but overall she enjoys every bit of it. “I am excited about bringing the fall play back to an in person experience. What I care most about is getting my classmates who truly love theater back together and in front of an audience. Even if things don’t end up exactly as planned, I know we will have a blast laughing with each other again.” Scorsone explains. Although it has been tough, Scorsone knows it will all be worth it in the end.


The cast of “13 Ways To Screw Up Your College Interview” is also facing mixed emotions about this year's play. Fabian Hattem, a cast member who plays Harold and Melvin in the play, is very excited and feels an adrenaline rush to begin performing again. “It feels really good to perform again, we only dreamed that we would get another opportunity to perform for others.” Hattem explained. Although the cast is excited the pressure builds up quickly.


The pressures of performing are very difficult and there are many different parts to learn. For this play the pressures are learning all the lines and pulling the part off. “ Just making sure that I have no other distractions that could affect my performance whether it’s school or home life, for learning my lines. I either never stop reading my lines until it’s fully memorized and work with whomever my scene is with, or I become really familiar with the scene so that I can improvise any parts I don’t know.” Hattem stated.


Some cast members have differing opinions on the idea of the play, but Hattem is enthusiastic about it. “I absolutely love the idea.  As a senior going through this now, it makes me laugh and wonder if any of these experiences within the show actually happen.”  Something that differs this play from many others that NHS  has done before is this is not a musical, it is just acting.


This is a change for some members of the cast, so there are mixed feelings. “I am more accustomed to musicals, but I've always wanted to step deeper into plays.” Hattem explained. Another change for the cast is having to wear a mask or face shield while performing.


Many may think this is a large barrier for the performers but it's only a challenge if you make it one.  “For the play it’s just  us talking and having a conversation so for this type of show it is not difficult.” Hattem stated, he believes the masks will not be a difficulty for him and his fellow cast members in this play. Overall The Thespian Society as a whole are overjoyed to go back to what they love even with extra precautions applied.