Gahanna Lincoln theater troupe overcomes challenges with 'Holding it Together'

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Lincoln Live instructor Mark Lowrie and Gahanna Lincoln High School junior Gabriella Fabrizio collaborate to film “Holding it Together” on Jan. 23. Fabrizio aspires to be a filmmaker and edited most of the production.

The community is invited to a football Friday night via “Holding It Together,” an original piece written for Gahanna Lincoln High School Theatre that premieres online March 5-14. 

Director Cindi Macioce said the show is a collection of short vignettes about community and what that means and looks like in different situations. 

“The setting is a football Friday night in the Lincoln High School stadium,” she said.

Macioce said the original piece was written for the department by local writer Grace Ellis.

“Initially, I was thinking we could use one of her pieces and adapt it for a virtual performance,” Macioce said. “She suggested that she write something specifically for us. That is how ‘Holding It Together’ was born.”

Senior Colin Smith said when he and his classmates first heard the show was going to be a kind of movie, it was challenging to some, but everyone gave it a shot and had a blast.

“The show is essentially about a football game and what goes on in the bleachers,” he said. “It explores the story of student life. The scenes were divided up into groups of no more than four, and we stayed 6 feet apart during rehearsals.” 

Smith said performing this year has been anything but normal, but the theater program has been trying its best to provide a fun, safe and professional experience. 

Macioce said the show started as the fall play, which ended up being the winter play.

She said the theater department faced many roadblocks while filming. 

“We started in distance learning with all virtual rehearsals in October and then began rehearsals in very small hybrid groups at the beginning of November,” Macioce said. “As we were getting ready to film in person, we were told we would be back in distance learning so filming would have to wait until after the first of the year. We resumed in-person rehearsals when we came back to school in the hybrid model and were able to finally film the show Jan. 23 in the football stadium.”

The schedule was made as the show progressed, so everyone had to be pretty flexible, according to Smith.

“Most of the rehearsals took place online, and notes were given afterwards to help us with the choices we made during the scenes,” he said. “For in-person rehearsals, everyone would sit 6 feet apart in the grouping of their scene. We were then called into the rehearsal room in scene order.”

Smith said the blocking in the show was different because of social distancing, and that made it a little bit more difficult to connect with a partner. 

“Even with these difficulties, we overcame the obstacles,” he said. “Producing a show during a pandemic seemed impossible, but we were successful, and we are all glad that it happened.”

(From left) “Holding it Together” technical director Chris Wagner, director Cindi Macioce and playwright Grace Ellis take a selfie  Jan.  23 in the Gahanna Lincoln High School football stadium in below-freezing temperatures.

Macioce said her department collaborated with the high school TV program for filming.

“We have a student editor, Gabriella Fabrizio, with (Lincoln Live, Intro to TV and speech instructor) Mark Lowrie assisting and mentoring,” she said. 

When the show was filmed in the football stadium on a 28-degree night, Lowrie said, it took about four hours to shoot.

“I shot it with junior Gabriella Fabrizio, who will be my stepdaughter in July,” he said. “She wants to be a filmmaker, and she really wanted to do the project, so we agreed to tackle it together. She is doing most of the editing. It's been a nice collaboration.”

Macioce said it truly was a collaborative effort from the playwright and directors on down the line. 

“Grace was at almost every rehearsal,” she said. “It is very unusual to have the playwright in attendance when a show is being rehearsed. We were able to make the changes/additions in real time because she was with us all the way.”

Another big challenge in the performing arts has been the absence of a live audience because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Macioce said.

“Theater is such a connective art,” she said. “That immediate response and energy of a live audience is something that actors and the crew need so badly right now. We all miss the human connection.”

Lori Whipple wrote on the Gahanna Lincoln High School Theatre Facebook page, facebook.com/Gahanna-Lincoln-High-School-Theatre-212254652124495, that she has thought so much about the performing-arts programs and the students who so desperately want to share their talents.

“Even though it may look different this year, I am thrilled to see some creative alternatives for the community to enjoy,” she said. “(I’m) looking forward to them, and supporting the GLHS Theater Program.”

Tickets for the show will be on sale beginning March 5 and will be available online at locallevelevents.com/events/home. The cost is by donation. The patron will receive a password-protected code for access. All proceeds will benefit the high school theatre program. 

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla