Inside the Actor's Studio

a senior performing arts elective

How can I bring my character to life, Tristan wondered. This is the actor’s job. In Tristan’s case, his character was a nameless, nearly expressionless bear—the lead in “I Want My Hat Back,” a picture book by Jon Klassen.

Tristan and classmates Riley Bryggman, Joelle Sacks, Scott Weinstein, Caroline Weiss and Casey Wilcox were preparing for The Actors Studio’s annual performance of children’s books for district elementary schools during PARP, a March celebration of reading.

Each year, students in the senior performing arts elective choose and adapt children’s books to perform. This year, an added wrinkle was that the actors would perform via Zoom.

"I want my hat back"

delivering joy and happiness

turning challenges into advantages

Tristian decided he could use Zoom to his advantage. “I used the virtual background feature of Zoom to display a picture of the bear taken directly from the book while ducking out of view,” he explained. “It made it seem as if the bear was the one doing the speaking.” An unintentional glitch caused his character to appear shadowy; on further inspection, Tristian found it worked, even making the play more visually interesting.

Scott Weinstein, who plays the deer in the story, also saw Zoom as a creative lever, citing the interesting and fun elements students could use, including sound effects, visual affectations and virtual backgrounds.

a district tradition

The second book featured this year was "Pinkalicious," a picture book from Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. Caroline Weiss played the title role—a little girl who loves all things pink. Pink, red and green Zoom backgrounds amplify the characters’ emotions and add extra fun for the students viewing.

The high school’s annual PARP performance is a district tradition that stays strong because of the impression it makes on younger students who in seven short years are suddenly seniors. “I vividly remember the tall high school seniors coming to Lewisboro Elementary School with big set pieces and bringing some of my favorite children’s books to life,” said Scott. “We sent these Zoom PARP plays to the elementary schools to deliver happiness and joy while also getting to continue acting with each other.”