SLHS Theatre Presents ‘The Election’

Southern+Lehigh+poster+advertising+%E2%80%9CThe+Election%E2%80%9D+1962+political+satire+set+within+a+high-stakes+high+school+election.

SLHS Theater

Southern Lehigh poster advertising “The Election” 1962 political satire set within a high-stakes high school election.

Aisha Durrani, Staff Reporter

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot about how students participate in school activities. Despite the inability to put on a traditional live fall play, students in Southern Lehigh’s theater program overcame social distancing challenges to rehearse, record, and stream “The Election” to audiences in their homes on October 29. 

“The Election” is a 1962 political satire set within a high-stakes high school election. Mark Davenport (played by junior Grant Neff) and Christy Martin (played by senior Ava Scattergood), compete for the title of school president. What initially seemed like a fair election quickly descended into chaos through Martin’s vicious attack ads and dancing rhetoric. Mark is forced to play her game as well, enlisting the help of a shady campaign manager (played by senior Nicholas Cullen) who ends up deceiving more than the voters. 

“Although the play was written a little while ago, it’s pretty relevant in our current day with the election,” Neff said. “Mr. Wehr did a pretty good job picking it at this time.”

While the performance was both successful and hilarious, the production was not without its challenges. Due to the pandemic, students were required to wear masks during rehearsal, only removing them to record, in order to maximize safety. The play was presented to viewers on streaming app “Broadway on Demand” for secure access. 

“We recorded it in sets of two, so we did two recordings of the first act on Wednesday, and then we did two recordings of the second act on Thursday,” said senior Abbey Zanders, who played an (allegedly) undecided voter. “While recording, we had to look at our space more like a movie set rather than an actual stage.”

Obviously, this transition into a new style of theater wasn’t easy. Since students had to wear masks covering the lower half of their faces during practice, there was more effort needed to convey emotions through facial expressions and body language.

“This was such a learning curve for everyone, and something that we haven’t done before,” senior Ava Scattergood said. “Everyone definitely had to learn patience to try to figure out what we were doing, but everyone was really great with that.”

The theatre students aren’t the only group that experienced new adjustments. Theater director Mr. Matt Wehr compared the experience to educators learning to teach online, a challenge most had never encountered before.

“It’s like going back to step one,” Mr. Wehr said, “because there’s a significant amount of planning on our end before we go in front of the audience.” 

After watching “The Election” from the comfort of my own living room, I can confidently say that in spite of the circumstances, the hilarity of the show was undeniable. For the seniors, whose future in theater is especially uncertain, their final fall play was especially bittersweet. But in spite of everything, the cast and crew seemed to agree that despite the odds, theatre persists.

“This meant more to me than any of our other shows that we’ve done because it’s my last one,” senior Bailey Sietz said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to put the show on with.”