Will approaching virtual S!NG 2021 measure up?

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This year, Townsend Harris High School’s annual S!NG production, a student run, grade-wide contest, will take place virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In years prior, S!NG has been a competition between the Freshiors, the freshmen and junior classes, and the Semores, the sophomore and senior classes. Earlier this school year, The Classic covered how the teams came together and ultimately decided to create a virtual S!NG showcase without the competition aspect. Now, with S!NG set to debut on February 11, The Classic revisited the teams to see what has developed since. 

Each team has put together a show consisting of plays and recordings based on this year’s theme: “Parallel Universe.” The Semores’ overall director Hannah Krayzman explains the focus of their plot as an “unfamiliar, endless darkness” where two characters “explore the complexities of life while escaping limbo.” “Our team’s story takes place in ‘the Inbetween,’ which exists beyond the conscious mind,” Hannah said. “Alex finds herself here with an individual named Cameron after getting in a car accident. Together, they navigate through the societies formed by those that occupy this world, all with different intentions for our protagonists. They must explore the complexities of their life—including their fears, memories, and desires—to escape this limbo.” 

As for the Freshiors, their plot includes at least one known and one unknown character, a Billie Eilish or P!NK song, and a concept or object does not exist in our own universe. Everyone involved in the production has been practicing since November via Zoom calls and staying connected through Google Classroom. Reflecting on the new process, Freshior overall director Lisa Felson said, “Directing S!NG virtually was definitely a challenge as was figuring out how our actors would interact with each other virtually. I’d say the hardest thing was making sure that everyone was communicating effectively, especially when we aren’t seeing each other in person every day.”  

“When I originally found out that S!NG would be held virtually, I was concerned about how the entire process would turn out and the smoothness of the performance,” said freshman Camila Estevez. “However, after becoming a part of the process and understanding the methods being used, I feel confident in the way it will work out.” 

“I feel that this is a change in S!NG history,” said sophomore Mace Choo. “Never before has video editing and syncing been required in a S!NG performance. This is going to involve a lot more work than previous years.” 

The inability to meet in person or perform live has particularly affected the costume, makeup and backstage departments. “As of now, Backstage does not have as many meetings as the other departments but when we do, we normally use them to give updates and answer questions,” backstage director junior Heather Bonilla said. With no way to style the actual actors, the costume and makeup department has been creating different styles and collage exhibitions of character outfits based on their scripted personality. 

While the other departments have had a sufficient amount of time to produce their videos, the backstage department is only now taking part in the production. Due to the fact this year’s S!NG competition will be showcased on websites, the department holds the essential role of gathering and assigning videos to each page on the website and, in addition to a separate group of video editors, will be assisting other departments in video editing if needed. The finalization of the website will serve as the last step before S!NG 2020 is set to debut. The backstage members are currently editing their videos together, with everyone having an assignment part. 

As the process is coming to an end, the teams have been designing their t-shirts, with suggestions from the students. Per usual, the customized S!NG t-shirts are a reminder of the cultivation of all the students’ hard work and dedication to the show. It’s a nostalgic remembrance for every participant and incorporates elements within the storyline into its design. 

The hip hop directors, juniors Lianne Solis and Sophia Zion, have created a finale dance that is open for anyone in S!NG to do as a good way to end the showcase and display everyone’s talent and dedication to S!NG this year. In previous years, the finale dance was done by everyone who participated in S!NG, creating a sense of family. 

While this virtual performance may limit the flexibility the directors usually have with physical performances, reaching out to participants, and applying stage additions such as props, costuming, and makeup, many anticipate finishing off strong. Camila said, “I am looking forward to the songs in the production and how they are put together under the specific circumstances that we are in.” Students and S!NG participants alike await the much anticipated final product. Freshman Wren Walston said, “I’m most looking forward to seeing everything come together. I’ve only seen my group’s art work and don’t exactly know what everyone else has been working on.”