CLC Theatre wears the Zoom challenge well with ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’

Leylani Vasquez

“Lights. Camera. Action!” For most actors, these are the words they hear before their big performance. 

Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 and the world we live in, the new words actors hear are “we are now live.” 

CLC performers are no exception, and they met the challenges of a Zoom new world with their latest production.

Adapting to new changes is difficult, but the College of Lake County theater department continues to put on a show. 

Their latest production, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” took place Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, and it was free. 

Instead of performing on a stage with all the seats occupied, the performance went live on Zoom.  

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of every single member involved in the CLC Theatre Department, the show went on. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, was published in 1837. 

This vain Emperor ignores the cries from his people to spend his money on unnecessary fine clothing. 

Instead of discussing the needs of his kingdom, he asks the ministers for their opinion of his clothing. 

The emperor is fooled into dancing naked through the streets to “show off” his new magical and invisible robes. 

Due to his own vanity, he believes the lie created by the “weavers” that the invisible robes are real. 

Alicia Hall, the director of this comedy explained the relevant theme of the play.

  “This clever play reminds us of the dangers of self-deception and the importance of truth and justice — that we must keep exposing the Emperors of our day and age to show everyone just who they really are,” she said.

In discussing this play and its adaptation with Hall, she spoke about a lot of behind-the-scenes work that went into this show. Shifting the entire performance over to Zoom has created obstacles and opportunities. 

“The obstacles we have faced have been mainly regarding integrating the technology necessary to be able to create the best product we can,” she said. “Our design team has been fantastic at foreseeing potential problems and troubleshooting any issues that arise.” 

She added that to create a memorable performance, the entire team had to plan for everything that could happen. 

The dedication of the actors also played a tremendous part in this performance. 

Hall said “this whole adventure will be memorable” because of their hard work. 

Hall elaborated on the challenge for actors performing via Zoom.

“The actors are alone in their own spaces, and it has been my focus to help create a product that gives the audience the feeling that the cast is all sharing the same space,” she said. “They must memorize where their fellow actor is ‘on stage’ with them, which might be the opposite of what they see on their screen scene by scene. It gets very technical. The actors must do that while at the same time creating fun, dynamic characters, and telling the story of the play.” 

Photo via CLC Theatre Department

Photo via CLC Theatre Department

“The amount of technical work that goes into this production is incredible, and knowing about it makes me appreciate the play even more. All of them have embraced the process and are bringing their ‘A’ game. I’m very impressed by the work they are all doing.”.  

A lot of us are now familiar with the thumbs up, high five, and smiley faces reactions on Zoom. 

Since the actors are not able to get a physical response, like in a theater, Hall said she was looking forward to talkbacks they are going to have with audiences after each performance. 

She added that the talkback should provide an opportunity for audiences to show some love to the cast. The response from the audience is meaningful to the actors and crew.   

“The CLC Theatre Department wants to encourage potential audiences to come out and support theater,” Hall said. “Theater has had to go dark, stop putting on plays, due to COVID 19. This has caused many companies all over the world to have had to make the painful decision of closing for good, as audience attendance is their main source of income. This has led to layoffs and terminations of theater teachers and staff. We felt an obligation to give back to our community here in Lake County to make this performance free for schools and families to attend.”  

Hall said her big message is to support theater and the people who make it possible.

“The theater industry in this country contributes over $800 billion, yes billion, annually to the U.S. economy. Theater makers, including educational theater, have been hit hard this year, and many will not recover to keep producing. Theater is truly impactful and transformational because it is a live and shared event. It is so important to support the connectivity that live performing arts can provide. The message of the show itself is that truth matters. By speaking truth to power, people have a voice. That voice can be fun and entertaining even while exposing people taking advantage of those less fortunate.”