By Press Times Staff
SUAMICO – During a time where theaters are shuttered across the globe, the two directors of Bay Port High School’s one act play were recognized for their achievements at the Monday, Feb. 15, Howard-Suamico school board meeting.
“The Pandemic That Didn’t Define Them,” was directed by Ryan Leland and co-directed by Meaghan Lynch, a pair of English language arts teachers.
The play earned an All-State award in the 2020 Wisconsin High School Virtual Theatre Festival, with students Sylvia VanDenPlas and Jaden Toole each earning an acting award.
“In the summer of 1606, the Globe Theatre was set to produce some its most well-known plays, including ‘King Lear’ and ‘Macbeth,’ then a pandemic hit London and closed the theaters,” Leland said. “Though there isn’t a lot of historical record for what happened, William Shakespeare came this close to contracting the plague and losing his life.”
He said this affected The Bard as his playwriting style changed afterwards with productions like “Winter’s Tale.”
“It probably ultimately forced him to retire, probably earlier than he expected, a few years later,” Leland said. “Fast forward 400 years and theater is shut down. Theater is not happening around the country and the world.”
He said this led to Bay Port entering the 2020 Wisconsin High School Virtual Theatre Festival.
Leland said the one act play choice was simple.
“We also picked a play that had as much to do with the times now as it did way back then, what happens when your life is upended,” he said.
Lynch said the students did a great job, even with virtual rehearsals.
“The students gave me a lot of encouragement, whether they know it or not,” she said. “In terms of trying to persevere… we do this for them. I want to thank them for taking the time to be a part of this group, because it was really meaningful for everyone involved.”
Superintendent Damian LaCroix called the production “a great real-time example of critical thinking and being a solutionist.”