Senior channels passion to support theater club through distance learning

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Elliott Taylor

Senior Elena Stern, production manager for U-High’s rendition of “Alice Down the Rabbit Hole.”

Lucia Kouri, Editor-in-Chief

From her freshman year as an ensemble member of the “Pippin” musical, to her senior year as the production manager for U-High’s rendition of “Alice Down the Rabbit Hole” — theater has always been a driving force in Elena Stern’s life. Though her distance learning experiences have not always been easy, theater continues to teach Elena about herself and the people around her, providing experiences that will guide her later in life. 

In the past year, the typical collaborative environment of theater has shifted drastically, as all rehearsals and productions have been virtual. This shift, according to Elena, was initially very noticeable. 

“Generally when we’re in normal times, people come to the theater every day — we’re just constantly rehearsing,” Elena said. “We don’t really have that right now. People just show up when they’re called and they think that they don’t necessarily need to come every day.”

As production manager in charge of facilitating communication when it comes to music, Elena’s job has been particularly challenging to balance in this distance learning environment.

“Choir and theater and May project and, like, trying to squeeze in my family,” Elena said, “that’s a lot right now.” 

According to Inga Domenick, a junior involved in facilitating scheduling for actors, Elena has risen to the challenge.

“She fits very well in a leadership role,” Inga said. “I would be lost without her help with the music. There have been difficulties communicating between directors, yet she has continued to work hard.”

These are not the first challenges that Elena has faced when it comes to theater. 

“There’s been multiple moments throughout high school where I’m like, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t audition, I have too much work, I have too much homework, I have choir, I have all these things in my life. It’s just too much,’” Elena said, “and then I get to the final day of auditions, and I’m like, ‘I have to do it — I can’t live without it.’”

According to Elena, time has taught her that theater is important not just because of work itself, but because of what she has gained from it, and the ways in which it has shaped her. 

It’s a really great way to express myself and to get out all in any of the feelings that I’ve been having and it just gives me energy and it gives me life.”

— Elena Stern

“It’s a really great way to express myself and to get out all in any of the feelings that I’ve been having and it just gives me energy and it gives me life,” Elena said. “I think a lot of times when people think about me, they think about my involvement in theater, or in choir or things like that — that’s because it’s who I am.”

Continuing to choose theater, even when she doesn’t have to, is what has allowed Elena and other theater members to push through these unusual times and make the most out of virtual theater. 

“People have chosen to get acclimated, and I’ve gotten used to it, and, you know, now we’re using Zoom as an advantage,” Elena said. “It’s been a challenge but you know, I think we all really want to have a good show and I think that really is what guides us.” 

Elena’s love for theater has had a long term positive impact on fellow peers, according to Inga. 

“She has made my experience in theater better and is such an important person,” Inga said. “I am so sad to see her leaving.”

Though it takes some extra work to feel connected to the rest of the theater community, Elena continues to be reminded of why she chooses to do what she does. 

“When we can sneak in those moments where we’re just like talking, it is really great because you really just get to learn from each other and teach each other,” Elena said, “not only about theater, but about the real world.”