ADAPT’s artists and performers were able to showcase their creativity through their most recent production of “On Metamorphoses.” The play was adapted from Ovid’s Poem, Metamorphoses by ADAPT’s theater specialists Gabrielle Grenell and Camila Kann. The performance brought together a plethora of creativity with art, music, and innovative performances, all while social distancing during COVID-19. It enabled people supported to use their gifts, talents, and imagination while communicating their art to a public audience.
The Community Outreach Department pulled together a performance that did not disappoint despite the new online format by incorporating artwork and music as we traveled back in time to Ancient Greece. Gabrielle and Camila chose five of the stories from the original work and adapted them for our actors and audience. Angel N who attends Day Hab at 5030 Broadway was the dramaturg, who served as a consultant and literary editor with Camila and Gabrielle. They were able to modernize the stories and language to better connect with the times. He was very involved in the research behind the play and loved the experience. He was happy to be a part of the show and looks forward to being involved again in the future. Markia C. from Elmwood and Kathleen A from 137th St. were audition who supported the audition progress with Camila and Gabrielle by helping to choose the professional actors for the production. There were over 100 applications from professional actors to audition for this production, which is a testament to the growing esteem and success of ADAPT’s theater program.
The premise of the production, metamorphosis, spoke volumes in a time of so much change and transformation. It served as symbolism for the growth and development everyone has seen throughout the pandemic. The play was initially created to be a live performance, but as circumstances unfolded in mid-March, Camilla and Gabrielle realized that the format would need to be adapted so that the production could go on. As time progressed, the focus shifted from a full performance to a dramatic reading. They started to consider how technology could aid in the production and were able to pull off the transition seamlessly. The production was live-streamed on a Zoom Webinar, which included American Sign Language interpretation and closed captioning so anyone who wanted to could enjoy the performance.
Throughout the process, they found innovative solutions for the challenges that came up due to rehearsing remotely. They figured out the best way to coordinate practice for actors coming from many different locations. The most considerable struggle was technology. They worked with each actor to ensure they found the best time to join rehearsals and figured out the best way to connect with folks remotely. Despite the hardship, ADAPT’s actors were enthusiastic. They were excited about their characters and the story itself. It was easy to get everyone on board and see the importance of keeping the play going remotely. “They were all fully committed and so excited to work with professional actors,” stated Gabrielle. “It really brought everyone together and brought comfort to many during a time of so many unknowns,” stated Camila.
It took three weeks to record each scene separately. They then stitched together for the final production with video editing software with additional support from Media Arts Specialist Adewale Raji. They supplemented the performance with artwork created by artists at ADAPT. They were made on canvas or paper done at our residences with Art Specialist Mercy Weiss. The artists also created myth-based digital art with Art Specialist Natalie Reichel. In her sessions, she discussed the background of the play and described was about, which inspired the artist to develop such incredible pieces.
In line with the production theme, there were a lot of benefits realized through the process. “The use of technology allowed for great attendance rates during rehearsals. Given that folks could join remotely, there were no issues coordinating rides. Since the performance was recorded, there was a lot less pressure on the actors to be perfect,” said Camila.
One of the biggest highlights for the cast was the cast party a week after the performance. “Everyone spoke about how proud they were of the production and their work. They were happy that they could be a part of something so unique and were appreciative of the amount of effort and talent within the cast. They could really see all the pieces together and how it all tied together within the production,” stated Gabrielle.
In case you missed it, you can see the Virtual Dramatic Reading of On Metamorphoses with Q&A with the actors on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu4XCMTULl0