The Big Eleven Fills the Screen

When the School’s gleaming, state-of-the art Kaye Theatre had to remain empty last fall – not usable given State restrictions on physical distancing and the size of indoor gatherings – Middlesex’s Performing Arts Department responded accordingly: Instead of staging one production in person, two would be presented online in the first semester.

Director of Technical Theatre and Design Ryan DuBray took on the first play, The Big Eleven, Stephen LaConte’s humorous look at “the chaotic world of nine juniors who are about to make the most important decision of their lives…or so they’re told.” Faced with an eccentric guidance counselor, pushy parents, and the stress of achieving impressive test scores and transcripts, the student characters navigate the college search process as best they can, providing plenty of entertainment along the way.

In having to use a dozen campus classrooms for sets in lieu of the complex ones that he would typically build on stage, Ryan was free to put his directorial skills to work. He held rehearsals over Zoom three evenings a week with the cast of 12, many of whom were first-time performers at Middlesex. After six weeks, they were ready for the live show (also via Zoom) on November 14. Here, Ryan’s technical expertise was key, as he assured that actors’ screen appearances for their scenes were flawlessly coordinated online. With great wit and timing, the performers gave all those who tuned in a welcome bit of comedy – and successfully carried out a resourceful solution to creating theatre, even in constrained circumstances.