Common Threads - April 22 - May 02, 2021

Holy Names Academy


The process of creating the first ever HNA Original Production was a true labor of love and endurance. It all began back in September as we returned to school fully online and longed to be interacting in person and on the stage. Students were both skeptical and excited about the daunting project of creating an original New Work, especially a full length musical. There was also the heartbreak, especially for our seniors, of not having the traditional production schedule. After a pretty intense search and the hiring of a professional new works facilitator and composer, we set to work. We were thrilled to be able to support local artists during such a challenging time when art is quite literally helping us to survive and yet so many of our talented artists are struggling. Students met twice a week, for two plus hours at a time to connect, brainstorm, explore, engage, learn, and challenge themselves from September until December. We narrowed down the issues we wanted to highlight in our show and contemplated the story we wanted to tell. We also enjoyed an inspiring play/screenwriting workshop from the incomparable playwright, Cheryl West, Home - Cheryl L. West. All of this was adult lead, but completely student driven. After the ideas were formulated and solidified, a core group of writers, musicians and lyricists stayed on board the first three weeks of January to officially create the show. Hours and hours went into crafting the production, constantly revisiting the themes students had highlighted as important. Students were particularly interested in creating a show that showcased social justice issues and were also focused on making the show fully accessible, to include researching how to do closed captioning and pricing the show so that it was affordable. In addition, the cast and crew wanted to donate a portion of ticket sales to a good cause. Students nominated causes they were in favor of supporting and then voted on a favorite. As a result, a portion of anything above our suggested ticket price will be donated to a local chapter of the organization Days for Girls International, which "advances menstrual equity, health, dignity and opportunity for all."

Once the script and music were written, we cast the show and got to work as an even bigger group. Rehearsals and preparation looked much different than in the traditional theatre we are all used to. Zoom calls, more expectations on actors to do scene work on their own while we prepped for filming days and tried to piece together costumes, makeup, permits, COVID protocols, equipment, and more. Our stage managers became set managers and tech students learned whole new skillsets in sound equipment, slating, and on-set script supervising. Then commenced filming for three, very cold, wet, stormy weekends in Discovery Park. Zoom filming, music recording, shadow puppet creation and filming was next, before all of the footage was sent off to our editor extraordinaire and our composer for final tracks and orchestration. It was a feat! And there were definitely times along the way when some, if not all of us, wondered if we could really make it happen. Lead by our student directors, who were champions in every way, we made it. 

Our final day of filming, as we were lugging equipment back to the cars, cold and wet, and so ready to be home, one of our student directors turned to me and said "Ms. Wahlen, back in September when you told us we were going to do all of this I was sure that we would get to January and scrap it for an already published musical. And here we are, on our last day of filming and we actually did it. I'm so proud of us."  

Sigh....a director's heart is full.

Thank you to ALL involved, big and small. You have a lot to be proud of indeed. 




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