Unfix the Stars
By Keith Taylor
Assistant directing Mary Baldwin’s fall production, Unfix the Stars, was as exciting as working on a show during a global pandemic can get. The process was fast paced, three weeks of writing followed by two weeks of rehearsal and a final week with some tech and 5 performances, all via zoom. The extraordinary ruthlessness of those short weeks, particularly the final week of script editing and eventually tech rehearsals, were an impossible thrill. Being separated from the production team and cast, each manning our zoom stations as we count down to start the show and launch into the unknown– I felt like an astronaut. When you’re in person, there’s so much more assurance that things are going to work. With a cast member waiting in the wing, you can know they are going to enter. There’s no way for that cast member’s hungry cat to knock over a glass of water and short-circuit their entrance. Via zoom, that could happen at any minute! Frequently, it feels like it’s happening every minute. Always, it feels like a moonwalk with no tether. And, when you get that feeling, isn’t that the best theatre making?
This was an undertaking of amateurs, for all of us, in some way or another. None of us had participated in a full-length zoom show before, a lot had never tried to write a script of any kind, and some members of the team had never even been in a play before. Guiding and working with such a new group of people was what the show needed to be a novel, fun, and unpredictable experience. Attached below is my AD note shared in the program:
This play is a confluence of unlikelihoods: written and performed (on zoom) inthe space of six weeks by a collection of college students, some experienced in theatre and others not, amidst a global pandemic and series of civil crisesthat have crippled the social systems that these young people are maturing into. In the midst of these unlikelihoods and tragedies, let it not be forgotten that Unfix the Stars is funny. The humor in Unfix the Stars is a testament to the skill and will of our cast to make something beautiful during the worst time of most of our lives. An even greater testament to the quality of the cast is the through-line of hope and cooperation and the show expresses, a small expression of the immeasurable hope that this group of young people has for a cooperative future.