The Crusader Players Persist: by Eve Brown-Ryder

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many groups to step outside their comfort zones and run remotely. Memorial’s own Crusader Players Drama Team (CPDT) has had to do just that. Many peoples’ first thought would be “what is the point of a remote drama club?” To answer that question, Ruth Nice, the club’s director, was interviewed.

“We have a unique community based on our passion for theater and no reason to stop connecting with each other,” said Director Nice. “Drama people have unique [bits of] intelligence that can still be explored even though we are remote. This is a time period [where] we need to create opportunities to express ourselves and we drama people understand that need in a poignant sense.”

To make remote meetings worthwhile, the CPDT will be diving into Irena’s Vow. This is a play about a Polish housekeeper who risks everything to hide twelve Jewish people during the Holocaust. Exploring a play remotely, with no particular plan, allows the actors to “work on skills that often are given minimal exposure and practice with our CPDT group such as expressive voice, facial expressions, body language, character development, [and how to] creatively explore set, costume, and lighting possibilities as a drama group instead of me being driven by the calendar as we count down towards production dates and having to make many decisions myself. We can still rehearse safely and try out different characters with different [students].” Director Nice is looking forward to “an authentic collaborative effort by CPDT members.”

Although there is no production timeline, “there is a possibility that we can perform this play in some format before the end of the year.”

Irena’s Vow deals with some very serious, heavy subjects. Some may even argue that it is not appropriate for a high school group. Director Nice has some very solid arguments for why it is exactly the right play, though. “This play is naturally segmented and CPDT members can meet virtually and read lines. No political correctness is undermined, everyone is still allowed to keep the Nazis as public enemies. It is an example of how real people met incredible challenges, how the human spirit can soar, [and] it can keep COVID frustrations in perspective. Even if the worst-case scenario happens and we are not able to perform this year, this play is still a compelling script and a story worth being told over and over again.”

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