Local high school drama club produces full-length film on COVID-19 hiatus

Local News

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The show must go on-line. That’s what a local high school’s drama club tells us.

Students at Harlem High School’s drama club didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from performing, instead adapting and filming a version of “Little Women.”

It took the students about 5 months to complete. They had to get in touch with their creative side and say despite the pandemic, nothing was going to stop them from proving the show must go on.

Instead of bringing a live production to an audience, the group of 15 made a movie.

“I was just surprised. Honestly, [I was told] ‘we’re doing this new format of a play instead of just doing it on stage.’ I was like ‘okay, let’s go with it see and what happens,'” said Anna Wheeler, a Harlem student actress.

“COVID has put these kids in different places psychologically emotionally they need these positive memories about high school and this era in their life and they can look back on this moment and say they overcame that challenge,” said English Teacher Christopher Engler.

Student director Olivia Frieden says there were challenges along the way.

“This was a totally different experience. I got to be on camera once or twice. I got to be on sound. I held the boom microphone–it was really heavy, but it was fun,” Frieden explained.

“We weren’t able to collaborate as one in one big time. We were just doing it separate in separate times you know but seeing the whole movie was really great,” said Wheeler.

While student actors missed being on stage, they made the most of it.

“I think it was really fun to do a film and it was completely a nice experience for all of us. So even though we didn’t get to do it live, I think it was still a lot of fun to put together a film,” said Zoe Juliano.

Harlem English Teacher Christopher Engler says he takes pride in the work his students produced.

“With the right support, we can help students achieve great things and that’s what we’ve done here even in these really dark times,” said Engler.

Students shot the 44 minute film at Tinker Swiss Cottage, Midway Village, and Rock Valley College.

The film will be available to the public for $15 on February 27th on Vimeo. All proceeds will go to the Harlem High School Performing Arts program to help fund future productions.

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